We are offering affordable housing for local young people following the completion of a unique renovation project. The houses in Norfolk have been made possible thanks to the ‘Future Builders’ project which is funded by OVO Energy’s charity arm, OVO Foundation. The renovation has also received funding from LandAid, is part of the End Youth Homelessness national programme and is supported by several other organisations. The Future Builders project has given local young people, many who have previously been vulnerably housed, the opportunity to gain valuable on-site skills and experience while renovating the semi-derelict houses. Now, it’s time for the houses to be homes as the first tenants prepare to move in:

“I’m Cara*, I’m twenty one years old and the first tenant of one of the homes in Norfolk renovated by The Benjamin Foundation, thanks to the Future Builders project supported and funded by End Youth Homelessness and The OVO Foundation.

For twenty one years I have lived at home with my mum, dad, and younger siblings. The last two years have been the hardest years of my entire life; I’ve experienced the worst and the best of what life has to offer. I have struggled with Depression, Anxiety and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of an abusive relationship.

I’ve always been close with my family and they have loved and supported me throughout the good and the bad. My mum especially; she has helped me to find myself when I was lost in the darkest of times, and she has helped me to blossom into the person I am today. This August, I felt as though It was time to leave the nest and find out what the big wide world has to offer. I was scared to move out alone, but at the time I thought that this was my only option, so was very discouraged to actually take the big step and leave home. I knew that I’d still need support and help with managing my emotions, socialising and living independently – and that’s when I came across The Benjamin Foundation.

I was scrolling through social media and an article about the homes appeared on my timeline. I quickly clicked the link and followed it to an article written in the local newspaper. My mum sent me the link too! The article stated that these homes were newly renovated, local to me, and offered support to young individuals who found life a little tough. I was very anxious at first, but soon I plucked up the courage to contact The Benjamin Foundation about the properties. One of their Support Workers, Michala got back to me the next morning and arranged an interview with myself regarding the home. Not only was I an individual who sometimes struggled with life’s challenges but my current home also felt overcrowded with my large family so I hoped I was a suitable candidate for the property.

I arranged to meet Michala on a Monday morning. The interview process (although I was incredibly nervous) was simple, COVID-secure and took roughly an hour. I was welcomed and made to feel extremely comfortable. It involved questions about my experiences, my struggles, my current home life and whether I would need extra support whilst living in the property. Michala was amazingly understanding and settled my nerves instantly, I could tell right from the start that she was a lovely lady with a lot of experience in dealing with young people.

It was at this point that Michala discussed with me that we would have a Support Worker who visited the property weekly to help each tenant individually with areas of life that we may struggle in. This was perfect for me; I knew that I’d need support with social skills/activities, relationship building, and possibly a little bit of cooking. Michala told me that these were all things that my Support Worker could help me with.

By Tuesday afternoon I was informed that I had been accepted and that I was able to become the first tenant in the property. I was ecstatic! I was so proud of myself and the fact that I’d been able to pull off my interview and that I was suitable for the property, even if I was super anxious. I knew that by moving house and living more independently I was able to start the next chapter of my life, and move on from everything that had happened. The home and The Benjamin Foundation have not only given me freedom, they’ve given me independence – and what more is needed for a person to flourish?”

Thank you to Cara for telling her story.

If you are aged 18-25 and in training, education or employment and would like to enquire about living in one of the homes, contact Michala on 07976 851202.

*Name and image have been changed.

The Future Builders project is supported by OVO Foundation, LandAid, End Youth Homelessness, Victory Housing, Easy Bathrooms, RTB Roofing and Builders, Gasway, Nova Training, PTS Plumbing Trade Supplies and Vaillant.

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