Helping a customer keep his home
People case officer Trlok Janagal says his job has equal measures of challenges and rewards, with elements of being a police officer, social worker and mental health worker – as well as a housing officer!
His work mainly involves supporting tenants with anti-social behaviour and safeguarding concerns to sustain their tenancies. Where there is a risk of harm or when customers are not maintaining their homes, Trlok steps in.
"Recently, I was able to help vulnerable 68-year-old John*, an ex-serviceman who was no longer coping.
"It was one of the worst properties I have seen in my career. John’s flat was covered in dog mess and he slept on the sofa because there was so much rubbish he couldn’t access his bedroom. He was struggling to look after himself, was not cooking or washing properly and his flat was a fire risk to himself and his neighbours.
"Our contractor Fortem has attended to repair a door badly gnawed by the pet dog and alerted us to the way in which John was living. They were not able to replace the kitchen which was due for renewal as part of our planned maintenance.
"My aim was to avoid John being evicted due to the condition of the property and to work with him to keep his tenancy.
"Initially, I visited every month to encourage him to tidy up his home. I spoke to his GP practice, social services, our repairs and assets and floating support teams, a charity and his sister, who lived three hours’ drive away.
"His family was shocked to discover how he was living and helped him clear 20 sacks of rubbish from the flat, as well as find a new home for the dog that he was struggling to care for.
"I referred him to SSAFA, a charity for ex-service personnel, who helped him decorate his home and provided a new carpet. As gestures of goodwill our own contractor, Fortem, replaced two doors badly damaged by his dog and we replaced another two, all free of charge to our tenant. In addition, an emergency alarm was installed.
"It took me a year to help John and it’s one of the biggest achievements of my career. John said he ‘couldn’t thank me enough for the support and encouragement I’d given him and was sad I wouldn’t be visiting again.’ So, I arranged to make a follow-up visit in six months.
"I’ve just made that visit and was delighted to find that he is a different man. As well as coping with everyday life, he has begun going to a drop-in at his local church to keep his mind occupied. I’m so proud of him."
*Our customer's name has been changed to protect his identity.