We have a network of hosts in Norfolk and Suffolk who are trained and supported by us to look after a person in their own home. The hosts not only provide a bedroom, but support and understanding to young people who are potentially facing homelessness. It is somewhere young people can start to learn important life skills to help them on their way to independence, which helps to prevent the local homelessness problem from growing.
David* has been a host with Heart and Home for twelve months. After moving to a new area and having a change in family circumstances, he was considering renting out a spare room in his house when he stumbled across Heart and Home. After learning more about the service he realised that he could do something substantial to help change the life of a young person.
“Heart and Home is a great project – I was sold on it after the initial conversation with The Benjamin Foundation and it was an easy decision for me to make.” He explains.
With weekly support payments easing any financial implications, David knew he could meet his needs while making a difference. “The two things just flowed together.” He says.
With training and opportunities for support from a Heart and Home Support Worker, David felt confident about moving forward.
“The relationship with the Heart and Home team was key. I really valued their support and insights.”
He trusted his instincts when he and his Heart and Home Support Worker met with a young person and he felt comfortable with the connection they made. He went to great lengths to ensure the young person had his own space and felt welcome and at home.
“Of course there have been ups and downs.” He continues.
“Relationships can be tested at times as some young people have come from backgrounds that we just can’t comprehend. I have tried to find the right balance of understanding and being reasonably relaxed and accepting of what comes with the role.”
“Understanding behaviours is an incredible thing. Whatever happens I try to respond with a level of forgiveness and tolerance because I have made a commitment to that young person.” David continues.
I've intervened to try to change one person's life. If everybody did that it would make a profound difference.
Heart and Home Host
His feelings about the issue of youth homelessness are quite strong and he discusses how society and culture seems to have changed over recent years.
“It’s incredible how far or how quickly people can fall into vulnerability. It’s not about whether they’re deserving or undeserving; everybody should have the opportunity for support and protection for their vulnerability.”
He is humble about the role he plays but says friends and colleagues believe he is doing an amazing thing.
“People need stability to progress, thrive and flourish. On a personal level, I’ve intervened to try to change one person’s life. If everybody did that it would make a profound difference.”
David acknowledges that being a Heart and Home Host isn’t for everybody – there can be some challenges, but with support from The Benjamin Foundation’s Heart and Home team there will be some people who thrive in the role and can give local young people an opportunity in life that could stay with them forever.
“There are some amazing young people out there. If you are able to approach the role of a Heart and Home host with generosity of spirit and provide a young person with time, space, and stability to give them an opportunity to flourish, you will feel that you’ve done a really good thing.”
The young person who David has supported will soon be moving on and has some great opportunities ahead.
“It has worked because of him.” David says. “The impact of Heart and Home has actually enabled both of us to grow. It has been a successful outcome for him and the door to his future is now open.”
*Name has been changed.
Steven Newing House opened its doors in May 2003. Since then it has accommodated nearly 200 young people.