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"I hope to stay in this community for the rest of my life."

Over the last 12 months Orbit has joined housing providers across the UK in a national campaign to ensure every person who needs extra support has a home that meets their needs.

The Starts at Home campaign celebrates supported housing and shares stories of people who have previously faced challenges, but have gained independence or developed their confidence through the services provided.

Struggling to live alone after the death of his parents, Stephen Hodgson, 55, found a new lease of life after being offered a flat in Marler House, an Orbit Independent Living sheltered scheme in Bexley.

Stephen had been working as a road sweeper for 21 years before retiring due to his deteriorating health, which meant that he found it difficult to keep a tenancy and became increasingly isolated at a time when he was already struggling to live alone. 

Although he had lost touch with his family after the death of his parents, Stephen’s relatives contacted him to offer support when they heard about an operation he needed in 2010. While his niece looked into the benefits available to him, his nephew soon discovered that Stephen was living in a box room with mice. Appalled by his living conditions, Stephen’s nephew contacted social services, who offered him a flat in Marler House.

Stephen said: “I was very lucky as I didn’t match the criteria for the age group of 55 or over at the time, but my life is so much better now. I have my own flat with loads of new friends and my contact with my family has changed in so many ways, and there is always help at hand at the scheme.”

“Christmas is nearly here and I have never received so many Christmas cards in my life, which just shows how living in a place like this can make you feel like you are in a close community.”

“I am happier now with my condition and I’m able to deal with it better, so I hope to stay in this community for the rest of my life. I would like to also take this opportunity to thank all the residents at Marler House, past and present, and the warden who does so much for so many, you’re all bright and shiny stars.”

The funding system for supported housing is currently being reviewed by Government after which a new funding mechanism will be set up.

Vicky Harwood, director of Orbit Independent Living said: “We wholeheartedly support this campaign to raise the profile of supported housing and to celebrate the benefit it brings to individuals and local communities.”