Conversation with Matty, one of our residents

We met with Matty, a very talented poet who has been living with Threshold for over 18 months and is about to make his big move into his own accommodation.

Tell us briefly how you became homeless?

"My dad died in prison when I was 15 and then my mum met another fella and we didn’t really get on. I think it was when I was 16 and they kicked me out because it was getting too much. We kept fighting and that is how I became homeless really.  I spent about 4 years on the streets from there."

How did you learn about Threshold?

"I knew about Culvery Court but didn’t know it was run by Threshold.  I found out about Threshold through CGL, when I last became homeless. They told me about the Old Apple Yard, which was at the time a Substance Misuse Rehabilitation project so they referred me to Threshold about 2 years ago. After the Old Apple Yard, I moved in one of the Move-on Project."

I have been told by the Resettlement team that you are doing great and that you are leaving soon?

"Yes I am leaving shortly to move into my own flat so I am thrilled."

How are you feeling about it?

"Apprehensive, I think it’s only because of all the formalities, you know getting all my benefits sorted out, the Waterboard, the electric so I am a bit apprehensive about all that stuff.  I am not so much worried about furniture as I have got most of it now.  I need to get my white goods carpets mainly and that’s it, everything else I am almost done."

What would you say that you have taken away from Threshold…What have you learned?

"Mostly what I have taken away from Threshold is time to recuperate, time to gather my thoughts, get my bearings straight.  My recovery had to come first, you know what I mean, and the Old Apple Yard was the foundation for that.  I think once I had done the Apple Yard and moved into a Move-on project, I had already grown.  I took quite a bit from the GOAL's* .  I gained confidence, I have been able to do my poetry standing up in front of people and that took some balls."

*Gaining Opportunities and Living Skills

What do you see your future to be?

"Still at this moment, I still don’t know, because until I have surgery on my knee done, I am not going to be able to do anything. I do want to work in the drug recovery field.  I am not too sure when that is going to happen or how it’s going to happen.  Maybe through CGL but with some voluntary work or maybe even do a Health and Safety course first, just to see how things go."

 We are wishing Matty all the best for the future! 



Catching Up with Rachael, 4 Months After Moving to Her Home!

It’s a Thursday morning, walking down to Rachael’s 1 bed house, I reminisce on how few months ago, meeting Rachael in the morning would have been at our head office and more often later than 11am. It seemed to me like yesterday that Rachael moved from Mullane House, our youth project to the Women’s house, one of our Move-On project. She completed the Resettlement program and got herself a place to call “home sweet home”.

It is 10.30am and I am the one that's late, rushing around.  She welcomed me into a very beautiful, comfy living room. She's made it her own, very homely. I am looking around and notice few additions since the last time I visited. She tells me how excited she is to have her own washing machine and a hoover (she hoovers twice a day, not that the carpet needs it!). She is very house proud!

She offers me a cup of coffee and we sit down in her sofa for a chat and here is what we talked about:

Rachael, how you feeling now, after 4 months living in your own property?

I feel really good. I have been getting on with it and enjoying it. I have been able to budget properly. Yeah, it’s been going really well. I have been decorating and made myself at home.

Do you find that it gets easier now that you are here in your own accommodation?

Definitely! I think without the help of Threshold, it probably would not have gone as smoothly as it did but I really eased into it. I definitely respect people that live on their own now. I understand how stressful it can be, having to think of loads of different things that are going on. You have to keep everything on the forefront of your mind.

Did Threshold prepare you well to live on your own?

Yes, definitely, yes! Staff helped me a lot and I do think that without the financial preparation, the letter writing and searching for jobs and anything really, I would not have known what I was doing to be honest. They have helped me a lot, by teaching me how to look in the right direction.

Do you think you have settled well? Are you feeling at home?

There is still a bit of decorating to do but already I feel like I have been here for 4 years instead of 4 months! It feels really good. I feel really settled in, just a bit of carpet down the stairs and the bedroom and I’ll be alright I think!

That’s great to hear! What have you got in for the future?

I would like to get a job as some point but I think when I do that, the first thing I will be saving up for is driving and then I think I would be fully independent, without having to rely on public transport.

So I remembered talking about an apprenticeship with you few months back, is it still something you are interested in?

I still consider it. Obviously it depends on the financial situation but I think just for the training aspect and doing something that I actually want to do, it would be great.

What sort of apprenticeship are you looking into?

Accounting apprenticeships, hopefully. I have already got some qualifications in maths and I am looking to extend my knowledge in this area.

It was a pleasure to see Rachael again and I think I can talk for all of us at Threshold to say that we are all very proud of how far she has come. We wish you all the best and can’t wait to meet you again!



Client 2

Outreach workers came across a gentleman not known to them as he was begging in an alleyway in the Old Town area. He was unkempt and in need of a shower. Outreach stopped to speak to him. He did not have a local connection and his benefits were in middle of being processed.

He was given a shower token, informed of where he could get something to eat and given a Threshold Survival Guide. He was also advised of Hostels and Night shelters in the town. By the start of the following week he was attending the Breakfast Club and Day Centre on a regular basis for advice and support. Outreach is aiming to work with this gentleman over a few weeks to establish his claim and secure private rented accommodation for him.

Sean Weeks - His own words

The stigma of being homeless and/or unemployed is nearly as hard to take than actually being in the situation itself! Whether self inflicted or unavoidable it’s a very, very hard position to be in!

The few days I was on the street before getting some accommodation was only made bearable by the help and aid of “Outreach Programme” and fellow companions I have met in a similar position to myself.

The service I have received has been nothing short of excellent because, not only does the programme supply a full breakfast 6 days a week (which, for most, is the only hot meal if not the only meal available) as well as lunch 3 days a week and a “soup run” drop, they also provide knowledgeable and very helpful advice when needed without prying or being intrusive. Incidentally, the accommodation was only made available to me due to the staff from the Outreach Programme.

In short, before being put in this position, the people in this programme, and others similar, as well as this organisation, is and are overlooked by so many people who do not know they even exist.... and why should they, they have never been in the position where they need their help but I would like to thank them because without these people not only would I still be in the gutter but so would many people before me and the many that will follow after me.

Thank you Outreach Programme from the bottom of my heart

In all we all have stories to tell and some of the most eye opening and interesting that can be told today, have done before and will do in the future, are due to the people and organisations like these as most would not be alive to tell them otherwise.

Client 1

A 40 year old gentleman, known to Threshold over many years, was released from prison and made his way to the charity’s offices looking for Outreach to help with calls to the DWP with regards to his claim.

He had spent 3 weeks in prison and during this time his claim had been closed down. This meant he had to make a new claim for Employment Support Allowance and Disability Living Allowance.

This gentleman is alcohol dependant and has a substance misuse issue. This has, in the past, had a negative impact on his long term resettlement in that he was unable to sustain supported accommodation due to ‘dry house’ hostel rules.

It was not possible to make this claim over the phone and so we had to wait for forms to be sent out via the post. This gentleman has difficulties with literacy so Outreach helped him fill out the forms when they arrived. Within a few weeks his benefit was up and running.

This particular gentleman is a prolific offender and would resort to crime to get instant cash. The delay in making a claim for benefits posed the risk that this gentleman would go down the path that offers the least resistance.

Had the gentleman spent a longer period of time in prison, the prison service would help him set up a claim before he was released.

Client 3

A 54 year old gentleman presented at Culvery Court from Bristol, stating that he was homeless and fleeing violence. He was extremely distressed and obviously frightened.

During the booking in process Outreach workers were able to put him more at ease, assuring him that he was safe and would have somewhere to stay. He had boarded a train earlier that day for Swindon as he had family on the traveller site here, so had a brief knowledge of the area.

When questioned as to the reason for not going to his family instead of the hostel he became agitated once more, informing Outreach the family would take advantage of him and use him for cheap labour. He had been subjected to this in the past.

The gentleman informed us that he had literacy issues and had suffered with mental health problems.

The reason he gave for leaving his home was that he was being bullied, intimidated and financially abused by an individual known to him.

Over the period of time that the gentleman was at Culvery Court, Outreach was able build on mutual trust. He disclosed that he had been working with the mental health team and produced a contact name along with a number. Permission was granted by him for Outreach to make contact, with the aim of finding as much information as possible to help his case.

On making contact it emerged that he was living in mental health accommodation in Bristol prior to arriving in Swindon and that there was indeed a case of financial abuse against the gentleman which was being investigated by Avon and Somerset police. It was arranged that his CPN and the manager of his accommodation would come to the hostel for a three way meeting. Outreach was also to attend.

It was agreed, with his consent, that returning to Bristol was the best option as he had support and accommodation there.

Paul Gaff - His Own Words

I came to Culvery Court in the summer of 2013 as I was made homeless after my relationship with my girlfriend broke down. We have three children together, who I see once a week at a contact centre.

I first used drugs (solvents/glue) at the age of 6, this was nothing to do with peer pressure, I was going through a bad time so I picked up a used glue bag after the older kids had left the park.
Since then I progressed onto every other drug and used them to try to cover up my problems (past and present). I have now learned that drugs don’t deal with my problems, they just cover them up for the time being.

I am now on a D.R.R. for 6 months, five days a week and get prescription medication to substitute the street drugs I was using. I’m doing well now and hope to live life drug free and eventually have my own flat where my children can spend the weekends and holidays.

I feel that all of this is possible and if I take all the help that is being offered to me from C.R.I, Probation and Threshold then I will make it.

Swindon // 1 John Street // SN1 1RT