New flats offer ‘hope of a brighter future’ - FitzRoy
Man in grey jumper hands keys over to woman in beige jumper who's holding a tenancy agreement up to the camera

New flats offer ‘hope of a brighter future’

Author: Paul Williamson
Published: March 28, 2024

It feels like it’s been a very long time coming, but earlier this month we welcomed the first residents to their new flats in our supported living service in Nottingham for people with complex mental health needs. Quite apart from all the snagging issues that come with a new-build, setting up a brand new service presents a unique challenge: working out how all the new tenants might get along with each other.

We’ve been working in partnership with Nottingham City Council and various other professionals including community mental health teams and social workers. We had meetings with all the prospective tenants before they visited the service to see if it was right for them. This gave us a good overview of the mix of characters involved. Once we knew who was definitely moving in, we carefully worked out who would go in which of the ten flats. We felt some people would probably prefer being in the quieter part of the service, so we put them in a group of flats together. Hopefully we’ve got it right – we certainly put plenty of thought into it!

When they came to view their flats, one person in particular seemed really down when he got here, but when he saw the flat that we’d earmarked for him, he just absolutely lit up. The difference in him was incredible – his whole posture and demeanour completely changed, right down to the speed he was talking at. It was amazing to see how the realisation that he really was going to have a new home here, after quite a troubled past, gave him the hope of a brighter future.

All the people who are moving in here are supported through a transitional period, to help them get to know the staff and the building first. We can help them with getting their tenancies drawn up, for instance, and we really get to know them, their history, and details of anything they might need support with before they even move in. Together, we draw up their support plan, so they know exactly what they can expect from FitzRoy when they move into their new home and, more importantly, we know exactly what they want from us.

Getting to know everyone before they move in has really made a difference, especially as many of these people have had really traumatic experiences in the past. We’ve already seen the positive impact of that several times. One person found herself in crisis before she moved in, but she’d built enough of a bond with us that I was the one she called when she didn’t know what to do.

I think that phone call was the best thing that’s happened since I started at FitzRoy – knowing that she already trusted us enough to turn to us for help when she was in a really bad place was incredible. We supported her to deal with the police and social workers, and made sure she was found a room so she was safe and didn’t have to spend the night on the street. What would have happened if she hadn’t felt able to call us?

Another person we support had a very upsetting message from someone from her past a week after she moved in. Understandably, she found herself on the verge of returning to some old coping methods which are, let’s say, not very healthy. However, even though she’d only been here a very short time, she already trusted us enough to call someone up to her flat to support her. The staff member found out what was going on, suggested they have a cup of tea together, and sat and talked with her for as long as she needed them. That calm, trusted presence was enough to support her through what would otherwise have become a very destructive spiral. She was also able to reflect on her reaction herself the following day, which is hugely positive in itself.

We’ve got two new residents moving in each week until everyone’s here, to help make the transition as manageable as possible. Moving house is a big deal for anyone after all, so having all ten people move in at once would have been stressful for everyone involved. Setting up a new service is definitely quite a challenge, but my manager Louise has been really supportive throughout and it’s great to see how the staff have gelled as a team already. We’re still working with those of our residents who are moving in later, so hopefully they can build as successful a bond with our team as the first few people have.

We’re really looking forward to seeing them all progress here and supporting them towards a much brighter future.