[quote]This place has given me a purpose, a reason to get up in the morning.”[/quote]

After his divorce, Phil Hill turned to heroin and crack cocaine for comfort. His life was spiralling out of control until he was referred to a supported housing scheme in Hull.

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, Phil, 52, said:

“I went off the rails after I got divorced and ended up on crack and heroin. I started shoplifting to feed my habit.”

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.

Phil said: “This place has given me a purpose, a reason to get up in the morning.”

“I’ve learnt a lot since I’ve been here, not only about (qualifications and work) but also how to treat people.

“I’ve not seen my daughter since I split up from my wife. She was just 14 then but will be 32 now. I want her to remember what her dad used to be like, I don’t want her to see me like this. She’s moved on with her life and I don’t want to do anything to bring her down. I’d like to think that one day I’ll be able to reconnect with her again.”

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, Phil is urging the government to protect vital services.

“If it wasn’t for this place I’d still be on the streets, in jail or dead.”

“Without places like this, there would be a lot more crime on the streets. It’s a lifeline for desperate people. For the first time in a long time, I look forward to waking up in the morning.”