Ark Housing Trust was established early in 2016 to provide supported housing for vulnerable adults in the Buxton and Matlock areas of Derbyshire, and in April became a registered charity. It was formed from the combined experiences of two housing providers and property managers, Simon Graham and Jason Worrall. Between them they have over 20 years of experience providing housing to working professionals, students, and vulnerable people.
This experience has highlighted to them the fact that vulnerable people need more than just a roof over their head, they also need support, and Ark Housing Trust has been established to enable this. We believe we have developed a financial model that will enable the provision of supported care and housing, using only the statutory allowances paid by the Government. At present, this takes the form of accommodation in shared housing, with support provided through trained and experienced support workers, and a qualified and experienced counsellor. Our support workers meet regularly and engage with the many different issues that are facing the vulnerable tenants – issues of addiction, mental health, ex-offenders, risk of homelessness. The support Ark provides encourages our tenants to:
access all the services they are entitled to
engage with other tenants to collaboratively work towards supporting one another
identify their interests and talents, and access appropriate community groups to nurture and develop their self-esteem and build a positive self-image
Our hope is to see vulnerable adults taking positive steps towards actively engaging with their communities, and over time playing as full a part of their wider communities as they are able to.
Within our charity’s purpose we have the following objectives:
To provide accommodation and support to vulnerable tenants aged 16 and over
To promote physical and mental wellbeing
To promote a therapeutic approach to addiction and mental health
To prevent the cycle of homelessness and maintain accommodation effectively
To support tenants in making a positive contribution including crime prevention
We want to see vulnerable adults living as full members of their communities, active participants in their world, with their views valued and listened to. We want to see:
ex-offenders given a positive sense of purpose enabling them to turn their back on crime
the post-institutionalised supported to learn the basics of independent life
marginalised and overlooked adults having the opportunities to express their views in a meaningful and positive way
those with mental health issues accessing appropriate support
people struggling with addiction understanding a sense of purpose and value in their lives
We believe we have created a model that will enable all this and more.
Vulnerable adults are often overlooked by society, housed but not cared for, accommodated but not appreciated, a silent voice crying out for attention to which no-one is listening. Many landlords do not want to make their housing available to vulnerable adults, fearful of costs they may incur and issues that may arise from allowing people with complicated life-stories or reduced mental capabilities into their housing.
Ark has created a financial model that we believe will enable us, and others to provide managed housing with the required care these tenants need. Currently we have capacity to support 122 vulnerable adults in the Buxton and Matlock area of Derbyshire, and Stoke, Staffordshire. We have demonstrated the viability of the financial model, and are keen to expand to other areas where there is a need for the supported housing Ark provides.
Whether we call them vulnerable, or marginalised. Whether or not we label their condition with a term such as ex-offender or addict. Whether we see them as a risk, a threat, or as people to be avoided. They are still people. And all people, regardless of circumstances of life, have potential.
We want to discover the potential inside this community. We want to provide opportunities for them to take steps to realising and fulfilling this potential. They cannot do it alone, at least not initially. They need somebody holding their hand, encouraging them, picking them up when they fall and pointing them in the right direction. Our society will be so much richer if we can learn to value the contribution of all its members, and to begin to do that we first need to value the people who are overlooked, marginalised, and ignored.