July 25, 2024

A former merchant navy sailor said he has hit the ‘jackpot’ after ending ten years of rough sleeping.

Clive Bridge, 62, spent ten years on and off living on the streets before he engaged with Denbighshire County Council’s Homeless Prevention Team who found him a permanent home.

Mr Bridge, a former merchant seamen who worked for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary suppling ammunition to warships in the Gulf and the Falklands wars, found himself homeless after a serious accident which left him hospitalised for a significant period of time.

He has lived all of his life in Denbighshire and had previously struggled to stay in Council-provided accommodation for extended periods and has been sleeping rough and in night shelters for significant periods of time during the last decade.

After working with the Council’s Housing First pilot project, he has a home in Rhyl and is being supported to adjust to his new life with emotional and practical support such as help claiming benefits, paying bills and filling in forms and applications.

Mr Bridge who said he lived on his wits and survived ‘day by day’ while he was homeless, said:

“Being homeless became a way of life, I got used to it.  I was homeless for ten years, then I went into hospital for three weeks and when I came out I was put in touch with the team at the Council.

“I reported myself homeless and here I am. From my point of view it is like I’ve hit the jackpot.

“As long as I have a roof over my head, I am happy. The change for me has been dramatic, I couldn’t be happier. I’m training myself to get used to living in a house again. It is a massive change, but I feel settled and secure.”

Mr Bridge’s property is part of Denbighshire Housing’s council house stock.

The support offered to him is part of the Housing First pilot in Denbighshire which is funded through the Welsh Government and sits alongside the work carried out by the wider Homeless Prevention Team.

Housing First aims to ensure people are settled as quickly as possible into their own home and are provided with the support they need, at their own pace, and for as long as they need it, to sustain their tenancy.

There is an emerging evidence base to show this approach has the potential to deliver a sustainable exit from homelessness, improve health and well-being and enable social integration.

The team also spends time in the community actively engaging with any residents who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless and it can take months of work engaging with someone before they are ready to make the transition into permanent homes.

Cllr Bobby Feeley, Denbighshire’s Lead Member for Well-being and Independence, said:

‘It was lovely to meet Clive and see the fantastic progress he is making.

“Housing First works because it is a simple solution, providing a house ends homelessness and then the support is provided on a weekly basis to ensure that person is able to remain in their property. Once someone is housed, then they can start moving forward with their lives.

“Housing First is just one of the wide range of support we offer those who are homeless or are at risk of becoming homeless in the county.”

At the end of November there were 475 open applications in Denbighshire of people presenting as homeless, a mix of households at risk of becoming homelessness and those being accommodated in emergency (B&B) or temporary accommodation. In August the figure was 539.

Denbighshire County Council’s Homeless Prevention Team supports people 16 and over who live in Denbighshire and are homeless or at risk of losing their home.

The team aims to prevent homelessness wherever possible, working with the community and partners to identify and tackle its causes, and empower people to live as independently as possible.

Cllr Feeley said:

“This time of year it is important we think of those who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. The Council will be continuing its support for residents over the festive period.

“We know that homelessness can have a profound effect on health, education and job prospects and over recent years, the Council and our partners have been working on a wide range of initiatives to reduce homelessness and find longer-term solutions for individuals or families who may find themselves without a home. We have now brought all of our plans into our Homelessness and Housing Strategy and this is already having an impact.

“We are reducing the number of households living in emergency and temporary accommodation and we are working to ensure no household has to sleep rough and that homelessness is prevented whenever possible. We are working to reduce youth homelessness and increase the provision and range of accommodation options available to single homeless people.

“However, the number of homeless people is increasing nationally and that does pose an issue for local authorities, including Denbighshire. Our solutions include working with registered social landlords, as well as private property owners to provide quality housing options and the number of social housing and affordable homes is increasing in the county.”