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Giving a Home: Tommy and Rex

Giving a Home: Tommy and Rex’s story

Oasis Community Housing has launched its Giving a Home appeal in a bid to raise vital funds for its ongoing work delivering 7-day a week support to ensure the people facing homelessness have the food, warmth and medicines they need, counselling and advice to establish and maintain a safe and stable and environment to call their home.

It comes in response to the year’s events; close to 15,000 rough sleepers were moved into temporary accommodation in lockdown 1.0, as part of the Government’s COVID-19 response. But that’s not where the story ends. A roof overhead does not make a home.

Tommy* and Rex’s story

Abuse and mental health problems can lead to relationship breakdown and unemployment. It was a short step, Tommy said, from there to several years of sleeping under one of Newcastle’s many bridges.

The bridge was preferable to shop fronts, which has been Tommy’s other option. In doorways he had been vulnerable to the violence and insults, which are the daily experience of many homeless people. However, he became physically unwell, lost weight and was often too tired to walk to the volunteer kitchen where he got his food. On those days he went hungry.

Tommy, though, was resilient. He had made a friend, his dog Rex, and together they found temporary accommodation in a local flat. A mattress on the floor of a bare room was not ideal, but it kept the cold at bay.

But a problem with his benefits meant Tommy was forced to leave and he was on the street again. This time Tommy and Rex made their home on a disused allotment. It was away from trouble, but it was cold, damp and the rundown shed in which they slept was infested with rats. Tommy’s mental health got worse and he said that if it hadn’t been for Rex then he wouldn’t be here.

WARMTH, AT LAST

It was then he discovered Oasis Community Housing and Basis Beds. He would come into the drop-in for tea and toast, warmth and the sense that nobody was judging him. When his shed was burnt down by arsonists he now had somewhere to turn.

Oasis Community Housing’s Basis Beds offered him and Rex a furnished flat with the security of knowing that the rent and bills would all be covered. It was a chance to find some peace, security and a way to get back on his feet. Tommy said that getting a proper night’s sleep and doing the simple things like making a cup of tea in his own kitchen have made all the difference.

With the help of his support worker he has also started to look forward. He has started growing tomatoes in the garden and taken up his former passion for fishing. Above all he has reconnected with his children. They are adults now and Tommy is a grandfather. They see each other often. Tommy still has struggles, but he says Basis Beds has made all the difference.

“Without Basis Beds I wouldn’t be here,” says Tommy.

*names have been changed

To find out more about this year’s Giving a Home appeal, visit our Christmas appeal microsite.