[quote]Places like this give people, who haven’t got a chance at a decent life, a fighting chance”[/quote]

Abused for years as a child, Dylan Whiting eventually decided life on the streets was better than what he was enduring at home.

Two years on and Dylan is looking to set his own business up after a supported housing scheme in Hull helped him get back on track.

Speaking from The Orchard, developed by Together Housing Group on land donated by Hull City Council and run by homeless charity Emmaus Hull and East Riding, Dylan, 20, said:

“From the age of six, I was physically, mentally and emotionally abused by my dad. When my mum fell pregnant with my little sister, I didn’t want her growing up in that environment so I left so she wouldn’t have to witness what my dad was doing to me.

“I spent my time in and out of hostels, sofa surfing and on the streets. I’m a big fan of wild camping so I used what I knew to get by. I was referred to Emmaus Hull by the job centre.”

As with all Emmaus schemes, residents at The Orchard, known as companions, are required to work a minimum of 40 hours a week in return for a roof over their head, food and a daily allowance. The community is supported by a social enterprise including a cafe and retail space which sells upcycled household goods.

He said: “I’ve jumped at the chance to try every job on offer here to build up my CV from collections and deliveries to working on the shop floor. Emmaus are even helping me fund my driving lessons so I will be able to drive the van myself. I’m working towards setting up my own business when I leave.”

The only benefit the companions claim is Housing Benefit, which until earlier this month was under threat. The government’s announcement that all supported housing funding will be covered by the welfare system, was a victory for the National Housing Federation’s Starts at Home campaign. However, there is still work to be done as the government looks at how support costs need to be funded and the sector must continue to demonstrate the value of supported housing so it doesn’t face this uncertainty in the future.

As part of the Starts at Home campaign, Dylan is urging the government to protect vital services.

“Places like this give people who haven’t got a chance at a decent life a fighting chance. They provide opportunities to people that society looks down on without judgement.”