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Tayfen House changed my life

How our Bury centre gives homeless people a future

Last winter, life seemed bleak indeed for James (not his real name). He was living in his car following a relationship breakdown, and was out of work as a forklift driver.

Understandably, his longstanding anxiety and depression had resurfaced, and he had tried to take his own life more than once.

Fast forward to summer 2020 and things have improved immeasurably for the 36-year-old, thanks to the shelter and support of Tayfen House in Bury St Edmunds.

He explained: “I found this place in November through the council, after I’d been living in my car for six months. Moving here was tough at first because my depression was quite bad. “I’m a very tense and pensive person, and I didn’t really know what Tayfen was or who would be here. But once I got in I realised it was really good; everything you need is here and I’ve made some friends.”

James added that the one-on-one support he has received has been invaluable. He said: “The staff have all been brilliant, especially my support worker Emma. She’s given me lots of help around my wellbeing and checks in on me once a week to make sure I’m all right. That used to be face to face but they had to switch to phone calls because of lockdown.”

When he is ready, the next step for James will be to relocate to one of Tayfen’s properties in the community which he will share with other residents as the next
step to independence. Ultimately, he hopes to secure his own home, and return to work. He said:

“Tayfen House has changed my life. I don’t think I would be here without it.”

Since September 1998, Tayfen House has been offering emergency and long-term accommodation for single homeless people aged between 18 and 65.

Emergency shelter comes in the form of two dormitory rooms where six people can be housed for up to 21 days at a time.

Meanwhile, there are 19 ensuite bedrooms for longer-term residents. They can stay for 18 months until they get back on their feet. In addition, Tayfen House also manages 32 units of supported accommodation in the community. Funding comes from Suffolk County Council.

Support Co-ordinator Nicola Boddey (pictured above left) manages a team of three support workers. She explained: “When someone is referred to us, they are assigned a support worker whom they meet with once a week to address any issues they may have.

“These could be to do with debts, mental health, alcohol and drugs problems, housing. We sign-post the residents to the agencies that are best placed to help them, and work closely with these agencies.”

The support workers are complimented by a team of project workers, led by Project Co-ordinator Steph Paterson (above right). She explained that the project workers are there on the ground to address any day-today issues that arise with the residents or the running of the building itself.

Steph said the Covid-19 crisis had called for huge change to the way in which the service operates.

“Instead of having around six staff members here each day, we have had one project worker on duty at a time since midMarch,” she said. “They each do an eight-hour shift, with three shifts per day, while the rest of the staff works from home.

“The staff have been really flexible and have adjusted brilliantly to the changes. “The residents have also been so understanding, especially as we have had to close the communal lounge. They’ve responded amazingly well.”

Alongside a number of her colleagues, Steph has worked at Tayfen House since it opened, and it’s clear to see why staff retention is so high at this life-changing centre. Nicola, who joined the team four years ago, said: “It is such a rewarding job. We had one guy in his late 30s come to us a few years ago. “He did really well with his support worker and moved on to one of our HMOs (houses of multiple occupation).

“He also started a course to become an electrician. He’s now in general needs housing and still sends me messages to let me know how well he’s doing. That’s a really lovely feeling.”

For more information about Tayfen House, click here.