Accommodation for Work

Click here to visit the BIG Lottery Fund WebsiteOvercoming unemployment can be a big challenge, particularly if you are homeless.

BHT’s Accommodation for Work project aims to help homeless people off the streets and into employment and independent accommodation.

accommodation-for-work-01_W300Working with people who feel they are ready to make a positive change and move their lives forward, the project offers temporary shared accommodation and support with work and learning.

Each resident has a keyworker, who works with them to develop an individual employment plan which focuses on skills, training requirements and employment goals. Residents use their time at the project to engage in paid or voluntary work, training courses, or work placements.

How to apply

accommodation-for-work-03_W300We don’t generally take self-referrals. If you need more details about the project and referral routes please contact the team.

Contact details
By telephone

01273 645440

By email

Click here to email the staff team at Accommodation for Work

Case Study

Mohammed came to the UK in February 2009 when he was 23 years old, after fleeing the Darfur region of Sudan.

He was placed in NASS (National Asylum Support Service) accommodation for 15 months whilst the authorities were considering his asylum application. During this time he was not allowed to apply for benefits or work. Mohammed was eventually granted refugee status and had to leave NASS.

Mohammed rented a flat for a year but couldn’t afford to stay there when housing benefit cuts for under-35 year olds came into effect. He became homeless. He lingered at his mosque in the evenings until midnight, but had to walk the streets until it opened again at 4am. He went to BHT Housing Advice and was referred to the Accommodation for Work Project.

Mohammed faced barriers to working as he had never worked in the UK and his English was very limited. His support worker made an employment plan with him and helped him access an English as a Second Language course. He studied for 6 months and achieved Entry Level 2 and 3 qualifications, which gave him more confidence to apply for jobs and attend interviews.

To address his lack of work experience we referred him to Business Action on Homelessness and he completed a three week work placement at Marks & Spencer. M&S were so impressed they offered him paid work for three months over the Christmas holiday period.

When he finished his contract Mohammed kept himself busy with courses and training. The project referred him to do an Emergency First Aid at Work course and he also studied to gain a CSCS card, which would enable him to work in the construction industry.

Mohammed was offered work as a security officer working at different supermarkets around the city.

Mohammed was really happy to have a job, but found that starting work had additional challenges. He didn’t have the proper clothes for work and couldn’t afford to buy them, so the project helped him with that and some of his initial travel costs so that he was able to accept the job. He struggled when he was increasingly assigned to work outside the city. He found it difficult to afford travel costs and many of his shifts ended after the buses had finished.

His keyworker provided in-work support by helping him contact the agency and request that he be based in Brighton, which was agreed. He was also on a zero hour contract which made it very difficult for him to budget as his income changed every week. Again, his keyworker supported him to speak to the agency and explain the problems the zero hour contact created. They were able to offer him set hours, which meant he could manage his income well. His keyworker also supported him to apply for working tax credits.

Now that he was in stable employment and managing his finances, Mohammed’s keyworker helped him prepare for moving on from the project and having his own tenancy again. In May 2013 he moved to a BHT general needs flat. He’s still in the same job and is enjoying having his own flat.

He said that being in the project improved his confidence and self-esteem and having help with applying for college and work were the best bits.

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Richardson’s Yard Interviews – Phoenix

Can you start off by telling me how you have found the last six months since moving into Richardson’s Yard?

Yes, its been really good, its was quite challenging to adjust to to start with. When we first moved in, the furniture was still being put together.

The space is so unique that it was a bit difficult to try and figure out where the bedroom would go etc. I have settled in really well now. It has been a bit cold, because I guess, at the end of the day, I am living in a 40 ft. square box and it can be a bit cold. We have had some problems with the heating and so I have bought a new heater with a timer. It’s also taken some time to get used to the electricity because it was running out really quickly. Its just lots of tweaks and adjustments. But living up in the 5th floor is amazing, the light comes through so that heats this flat up really well. Everyone is really friendly here, we don’t talk as much as we probably should but we have that neighbourhood thing where everyone says hello. I think there were some problems at the start where people were having parties but yeah, it has gone really well.

Did you have any reservations about moving into Richardson’s Yard?

I was a little concerned but also excited.

I was concerned because it seemed to be taking a long time to get them finished and the moving date was moved. I was wondering what I was coming into. I knew fairly early on that I would be living on the top floor and that was great because I don’t think I would want to be any further down. I like being up high and having the quiet. I knew we would get a lot of interest from the press and I had some reservations about the slant that the media used that Richardson’s Yard was a place for the homeless. It seemed to have a negative slant and it seemed that local residents were a bit adverse to it. But now it seems to be the complete opposite and people are really positive about it, it’s been a really good experience.

Where were you living before Richardson’s Yard?

I was in a private housing association in Kemptown which was interesting and challenging in its own way because the people you live with came with problems of their own.

I was there for 10 months. There were support workers on hand to help us. It’s nice now to have my own space because in the old place we shared a kitchen and a bathroom which I found difficult.

You can stay at Richardson’s Yard for up to two years. Its early days but do you have plans for life after Richardson’s Yard?

The ultimate plan is to save a deposit and a months rent so that I can move into my own place. The centre of Brighton is too expensive so I plan to move to the fringes of town.

Because I work, the rent here is more expensive than I anticipated and I am finding it quite hard to budget but it’s good to have the two years here so I don’t feel like I have to panic. As long as I am putting away little bits then I will be fine.

Since you have been here, has Richardson’s Yard made a difference to your life?

Yes, I think having my own space has been amazing.

I have suffered with generalised anxiety for most of my life and I get very nervous in situations and I think being here and having my own space and having the sun beaming through my windows has really helped to relieve the tension and the stress which has branched out into other areas of my life like my work life and my relationship with my mum. Its like a ripple effect, this has been the pebble and the ripples have come into other areas of my life.

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Richardson’s Yard Interviews – Tristan

How have you found the last six months since moving into Richardson’s Yard?

It’s been really good.

It’s been nice being able to pick herbs from out of the front and put it in your cooking in the evening. I have met some nice people; I had my neighbour over for dinner last night. The location is great and you can get to everywhere easily. Town is just a short walk away and the train station. The space is really big and I can have my daughter in here and even if it is lashing down with rain she can tear around and its not too noisy. I like it.

Before you came to Richardson’s Yard did you have any reservations?

I thought it would be more community spirited than it is, I thought it would happen naturally but actually I think you have to make it happen.

Everyone says hello to each other but I thought people would help each other out more and be more thoughtful. I hoped there would be book clubs and things like that but I think this will happen in time. I think a lot of people are getting into the gardening idea that is happening here and hopefully that will bring people together more.

Where were you before Richardson’s yard?

I lived in Hove with a landlord and I assumed I had the same rights as a tenant but it turns out that because I lived with the landlord as a lodger I had less rights and I could be evicted without any notice or reason.

I went to Brighton Housing Trust about it and they said I had no rights but they had places available here at Richardson’s Yard. I stayed with a friend for a few months while I attended their (BHT) workshops and built up my portfolio and then managed to secure a place here.

You can stay here for up to two years but you said that you weren’t planning to stay for that long. What are your plans?

The flat is lovely and it is a lot better than staying on someone’s sofa.

You aren’t encroaching on anybody and you have all the essentials you need to get by such as a bed and a sink, central heating and a fridge but it’s not a home. You couldn’t turn this into a home where you could have lots of friends over, there isn’t enough space and you only have one worktop for draining and cooking and prep. It’s a great idea because you don’t want people to stay for too long. It’s a short term solution and its great for that. I will use this and get the best out of it but it also gives me a reason to plan my next move. I want to move into a housing coop where the rent is cheap and everyone works together as a community.

Do you think living at Richardson’s Yard has helped you in anyway?

I have never lived on my own since leaving my parents home before so that has been quite an experience.

I have always been quite sociable and lived in shared houses. Living on your own has been quite isolating but that is good in its own way. It has encouraged me to meet my neighbours. Living at Richardson’s Yard has been a really great experience, I have really enjoyed it.

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Richardson’s Yard Interviews – Alan

How have you found the last four months at Richardson’s Yard?

Brilliant but also a bit weird.

I have come from supported housing so the things that I enjoy such as living independently are also a bit weird because I am used to lots of people being around and it’s hard to adjust to being on my own, that’s the strange part of being here. I am used to having seven or eight people around, sort of barging in and making a nuisance of themselves which I had got used to but now I don’t I really like it and I am enjoying the space but it is strange. So far it’s brilliant, touch wood!

Before you moved in did you have any reservations about living at Richardson’s Yard?

Yes definitely. I hated the idea if living in a shipping container.

As soon as the idea was mentioned to me and there was the possibility of me being put forward to live here I thought there is no way you are putting me in a box and it took ages to come around to the idea. I don’t think it was until the second workshop that Steve Coulson ran that I started to think hang on a minute, this is pretty good. I started to look at the plans and on the internet at projects in Holland and my enthusiasm really grew.

You can stay her for up to two years, do you have any plans for what you will do after Richardson’s Yard?

I am going to reapply for the council and hopefully get a band B.

In the mean time I am playing off my debts and saving for private accommodation in case I can’t get housed by the council.

Has being at Richardson’s Yard helped you with your plans for the future?

Yes. Anyone who has been homeless or in supported housing or hostels knows that you just want your own space.

Often people in this position aren’t actually ready for their own space and I wasn’t, but at the time it is all you want. When they said it would be a two year stop gap period I wasn’t that keen but having thought about it, it’s actually a good opportunity to get myself sorted and to pay my debts off. I can save up, I can start living properly without all this weight on my shoulders. Hopefully, once I have saved enough, I will have a year to find somewhere new to live.

Has your life improved since being at Richardson’s Yard?

I have depression and post traumatic distress disorder and I realise they really need sorting out.

I was drinking heavily before I came here and I have stopped that now but living on your own, sitting with my own thoughts without any distractions can be challenging so on a personal level I realise I need help in those areas. On a housing level everything is OK, everything is pretty cool.

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