Dad’s ‘downward spiral’ left him living in a hostel after losing his job

A man who became homeless after losing his job during the pandemic now has a home of his own.

Mr Omer, who only asked to be referred to by his surname, was working as an IT technician when the UK went into national lockdown in March 2020 and the business was forced to close.

The 44-year-old had separated from his wife the previous year and was unable to see his children for months at a stretch.

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After losing his job due to the pandemic, the father-of-two entered a downward spiral that saw him become homeless after he could no longer afford to pay his rent.

He told ECHO: “When [the business] close I had no money. The case disappeared and I lost my place and asked Liverpool City Council for help.

“Liverpool City Council, they helped me, they supported me in a hotel for a month or something, then I got a phone call from the hostel – Mandela House.”

After moving into the hostel in July 2020, Mr. Omer received support to help him get back on his feet and find permanent accommodation.

He moved into a house in Wavertree in September 2020, thanks to a new project launched by Liverpool City Council, housing associations and charities and homeless providers in the area.

The project saw all these organizations join forces and work together to move approximately 1,075 households, who were or were at risk of becoming homeless, into permanent accommodation under the ‘Everyone In’ scheme.

This included individuals, couples and families, who moved into vacant properties and received the appropriate support to help them get back on their feet.

Mr Omer said: “When I was staying at the hotel I didn’t know what was going to happen. I didn’t know what was going to happen because it was the first time I had become homeless.

“I had never been homeless before, never had problems like this.

“I thought ‘I’m not going to see my kids, I’m not going to have my kids.’ That’s what I thought – ‘it’s over, it’s over, I can’t help it, my hands are tied’.

“To be honest, social services got involved with my kids, I was distraught and scared I’d lose my kids and won’t be able to see them – but I’ve got it all wrong.

“The counseling department, nothing went wrong. They took care of us honestly and they did the best they could.”

The day he moved into his house, Mr Omer, who now has full custody of his children, said he burst into tears.

He said: “When I moved in there was furniture, rugs, all the kitchen equipment, forks, knives – everything. A washing machine, plates, cooker, canapes, everything, they provide everything.

“My children live with me now, I can watch them grow every day. I’m so grateful.”

Mr. Omer continued to receive support from the Homelessness Aid Project and returned to university to take several adult welfare courses.

He hopes to find a job in the health sector in the future and help people who are homeless or in difficult circumstances.

Bronwen Rapley, chief executive of Onward Homes and chair of the Liverpool City Region Housing Associations Group, said the scheme required a “collaborative effort” which followed support for individuals through the “Everyone In” scheme.

Ms Rapley said: “I think it’s been a really energizing project because we’ve seen how much we can do when we come together.

“And in a sense in a pandemic you can’t work like you used to, you have to be different and I think the level of collaboration that we’ve achieved and the goodwill, and the impact on the lives of people have been absolutely fantastic.

“I think it’s been really encouraging for our professionals who have worked there and I think it’s been life changing for a lot of the clients who have been a part of it and what’s not to love about something like that?”

Cllr Frazer Lake, Cabinet Member for Adults and Children, said: ‘When someone has lost their home there is always a complex set of circumstances that has led to this point, so getting people back on their feet the more often. , needs multiple partners working together to achieve the best result.

“The work that has been done during the pandemic now forms the basis of our new homelessness and homelessness strategy – the Liverpool scale.

“Our aim now is that if anyone loses their home in Liverpool it should be rare, brief and non-recurring. There is no doubt that is ambitious, but everyone has shown us that it is certainly not not impossible.

“The new strategy isn’t about moving people into housing – it’s about finding real homes for people, homes they want to live in, where they have the confidence to keep their tenancy and move on. their lives and be part of their community.

“Our partners have already shown the profound difference it has made to people’s lives at Liverpool and that is something we should all be optimistic about.”

Linda G. Ibarra