Funded by the Big Lottery’s Help Through Crisis scheme and in partnership with Birmingham Mind, our WELLcome Home services provide outcome-focused support to individuals and their families. The aim is to help them reconnect to their accommodation and community after a stay as an inpatient.
We’re fast approaching the service’s fourth year, so it feels like an appropriate time to share another success story.
Imagine not being able to take your baby home from hospital because you have nowhere to live. We’ve been supporting a young family and their seven month old daughter, who have been dealing with just that. Their little girl was born premature, and has multiple ongoing complex health problems including cataracts in both eyes and an underdeveloped brain. She is also unable to swallow safely and so is fed via a tube directly into her stomach.
On top of this, their daughter has a chronic lung disease which requires her to use oxygen 24 hours a day. She was delivered at Birmingham Women’s Hospital and then transferred to Birmingham Children’s Hospital, where she has remained since.
Unable to go home
Up until their daughter’s arrival, the baby’s mum and dad were living with his family in an overcrowded property. They’d been sleeping in the living room on the sofa and floor – hardly ideal for an expecting mother.
Once the baby had been born, the dad’s family told them that the couple wouldn’t be able to return to the property as the baby would require a home oxygen system. They didn’t want it to be permanently fitted into their home.
So as well as there being medical barriers, there was also a housing barrier preventing the baby from being discharged from hospital.
What Shelter did to help
Our support started by helping the family to complete an application form to join their local authority’s housing register. We then helped them submit medical evidence that supported their housing situation being a barrier to the baby’s discharge.
Generally speaking, these applications take at least 8–12 weeks to process. But because of the strong links our project has forged with the local authority, the housing application was processed within two days. It placed the family in the highest priority band.
We then helped the family understand how the bidding process works and how to place bids on housing each week. Within four weeks, they’d viewed and accepted a housing association property. Finally, we assisted the family by obtaining white goods and furniture through Local Welfare Provision, plus purchased some essential items for them through our Hardship Fund.
Without the strong links the WELLcome Home project have built with the local authority, this family could potentially still be waiting for their housing application to be processed. They could even have been placed in a lower band and have been waiting for months or even years for a suitable council property to become available.
The hospital is now planning discharge for the baby, meaning there will soon be a bed available for another child in need.