Hightown runs three projects for homeless people in the St Albans area – Open Door, Kent House and Martin House, providing accommodation for up to 52 people, with each person being offered tailored support and advice to give them the necessary social and life skills to move into independent living or employment.

A recent study showed that Hightown’s work to support homeless people in St Albans not only helps vulnerable people get their lives back on track, it also saves the health service, police and local authority nearly £600,000 a year - that’s almost £7,500 per person per year, split across healthcare (£300,000), policing (£80,000) and the local authority (£220,000)*.

Hightown Chief Executive, David Bogle said: “There is huge need for affordable housing in St Albans, and in other parts of the country. As a Herts-based housing association we understand the housing issues local people are facing and we offer a range of accommodation starting with temporary accommodation for the most vulnerable people in society through to more permanent housing for affordable rent or shared ownership.  We work with the Council to provide housing and support to homeless people.”

Case study: Rhys, aged 26 – Hightown’s Kent House hostel, St Albans

A former homeless man has turned his life around thanks in part to the support of staff at Hightown Housing Association’s Kent House hostel in St Albans.

Moving to Kent House not only means that Rhys Walker has a roof over his head, he also has help to set him up with the skills and confidence he needs to apply for jobs and look forward to the future.

Rhys, aged 26, says he’s received “brilliant” support from staff at the Kent House hostel for homeless people in St Albans city centre, where Hightown aims to empower residents with the necessary social and life skills to move on to independent living.

He has recently completed a five-week IT course, supported by Hertfordshire County Council’s Hertfordshire Adults and Family Learning Service (HAFLS) and delivered by Oaklands College, which taught him vital computer skills.

Rhys said the course, which took place at Hightown’s nearby Martin House hostel, helped him work on his CV and prepare to apply for work, with his ambition to become an estate agent.

“I really enjoyed the IT course, it’s definitely boosted my confidence,” he said. “Before the course I didn’t know how to attach documents to emails, but by the end I felt like an expert, and could do it all myself. It’s helped get me ready to apply for jobs.”

His personal skills are set to be boosted further when he attends a ‘Confidence-Building’ course later this month. Other activities provided to help Kent House residents move on to independent living include mindfulness activities, cooking classes, gardening and budgeting advice.

Rhys, who was sofa surfing or sleeping rough before he moved into Kent House, said the support he has received has helped turn his life around and put him back on track.

He said: “Before I moved into Kent House I didn’t know where I was going in life and had no direction. Since coming here, I’ve been so much happier. When I need support, the staff are always here for me and help me to open up about things. 

“Their support has been absolutely brilliant – my key worker has been through thick and thin with me. Now I’m feeling much more optimistic and I’ve just passed my driving test which will help me with my ambition to be an estate agent. I’m going to give it my all to fulfil my dreams – my life is on the right track now.

Rhys’s story: https://youtu.be/TdHkAWNvb-Q