After almost two years spent living in a one-bedroomed caravan with his three young children, Richard’s prospects of finding a permanent home for his family seemed bleak. See his story below.
At times, it was so cold that their water froze and the boiler failed, forcing him to turn to extended family to cook a meal or bath the children, one of whom was only a baby.
Richard lives in Kent and used to be a support worker for people with learning disabilities but, when his marriage broke down and he was awarded sole custody of his three children, now aged two, three and five, he stopped work to look after them.
"I had to make a home for the kids, but the caravan was cramped," he explains. "The living room was part of the kitchen, which was dangerous, and we needed more space. There were times when it was really, really bad."
When the owners of the land threatened to evict Richard, the family were placed in temporary accommodation.
"It was very daunting because we had to wait; it was worrying because, even though we needed to get out of the caravan, it was still our home. We didn’t know where we were going to go or if the council was going to help."
After six weeks, Richard received a call from Hyde offering him a three bedroomed house with a garden. "When Hyde phoned out of the blue and asked us to have a look at this place it was overwhelming. It was a really nice feeling that something constructive was happening."
Richard has mild Asperger’s Syndrome. "I’m ok, but I need some support. When we were put into temporary accommodation, it was really hard. When I met the lady from Hyde she was really reassuring, telling me about everything Hyde offers."
He has also received extra support from Hyde staff, who helped with benefit calculations and provided guidance when a mix-up resulted in a very high water bill. "They were very approachable, they explained everything clearly until I understood it."
Now that the family is settled in their new home, Richard says his children are happier and more confident. His eldest daughter is enjoying being at the local primary school and the youngest attend a nearby nursery.
They all feel part of their community, he says. "I talk to the neighbours and it seems like a really nice community and the kids have got more friends. It is a nice mix of social housing and people who own their houses. We’re part of something here.
"The kids have structure in their lives. This is what they should be entitled to and we’re blessed we’ve got it. They know where they are living and have no worries about being cold or having to be out. They’ve got security now."