Hightown were delighted to hear that, following a retendering process, they have kept the Home Options contract (now called Options for Support) with Buckinghamshire County Council supporting vulnerable people in the county for a minimum of a further five years.

It was particularly pleasing to hear that the commissioners had scored the charitable organisation very highly in terms of the quality of service currently provided by Hightown staff in the Home Options Schemes.

The ambitious project, which began in 2006, has already meant 87 people with mental health difficulties have moved into new homes, with most of them being supported to live independently in their own properties in High Wycombe, Princes Risborough, Aylesbury and Amersham.

As part of the Home Options programme, significant numbers of people with mental illness in the county have been helped to move from registered care homes to being supported to live more independently in their own homes.

They include Kevin Bilbey, aged 41, who was living in a care home at the start of the Home Options project when the County Council transferred four county-owned sites - an empty building in Aylesbury and care homes in Princes Risborough, High Wycombe and Amersham - to Hightown.

As the programme developed new properties were built on three of the sites, giving 78 people their own, self-contained, one-bedroom flat. Nine of the residents are living in a registered care home, at Lane End Road in High Wycombe.

Kevin was initially helped to move out of the care home in Amersham into a new supported living flat in Aylesbury. But as the project progressed, so did his ability to live independently.

He is now enjoying life in his own independent living flat in Stokebury House, Amersham, and has part-time work with Hightown’s Workskills team, which offers a range of maintenance services to customers in and around Buckinghamshire.

Kevin said: “The support Hightown has given me has been fantastic. I didn’t know much about paying my own bills, cooking for myself or shopping. But they’ve helped me with all the skills I need to live in my own place”.

“I’m now in a beautiful new flat, and it is lovely having my own independence. The staff still come to see me everyday to give me support – maybe just for a walk or a chat. I also get on with everyone else here, and I enjoy being out with the Workskills team.”

Dave Black, Head of Hightown’s Care and Supported Housing services in Buckinghamshire, said: “Our aim is to support people with mental health issues to live as independently as possible in their own homes. We are delighted with the feedback from the Commissioners regarding our high quality of service and the influence this had on their decision for us to continue providing support.”

Buckinghamshire County Council's cabinet member for health and wellbeing Mike Appleyard said: "I'm delighted that Hightown have won the contract to carry on providing the excellent Options for Support service, giving people with mental health problems in the county the confidence and opportunity to live independently."