MP meets with staff and customers on tour of purpose-built accommodation
The MP for Northampton South recently visited Midland Heart’s purpose-built accommodation for homeless people in the town where he met staff and residents.
Following the visit Andrew Lewer said Oasis House was unlike any hostel he had visited and he felt its hotel-like environment gave people a real opportunity for a fresh start.
Among those he met was former homeless mum Diane who describes Oasis House as “The Hilton compared to anywhere else I’ve been in the last six years.”
She proudly welcomed the MP into the flat she has lived in for just over 12 months and which has given her the safe and stable environment she needed after becoming homeless following years of violent relationships, drink and drug misuse and losing contact with her two sons and her family.
Mr Lewer had asked to visit Oasis House to see for himself the facilities at the £multi million development and hear about Midland Heart’s proposals to increase accommodation and, potentially, provide beds for women rough sleeping in the town. He has asked to be kept informed as plans for the building are taken forward.
Diane is just one example of how safe accommodation and stability such as provided at Oasis House, can be a turning point. She said: “Here at Oasis House I feel safe and settled and accepted. My confidence is coming back and I don’t walk about with my head down, avoiding eye contact or speaking to anyone. “I couldn’t have asked for more and I’m grateful. I could so easily have slipped away.”
She arrived at Oasis House after being beaten so badly by her then partner she was hospitalised. He is currently serving a two year prison sentence for assault while, after much heartache, their baby son has been adopted.
“This is The Hilton compared to anywhere else I’ve been in the last six years,” Diane explained. “I’ve slept in tunnels and on sofas. At first I was put in a place in Leicester but it didn’t work out. I was still drinking a lot and I wanted to go out but there was an 11pm curfew and if I was late I was locked out.
“I was grateful I wasn’t on the streets but I felt like a child and my head was a mess. It was hard being in Leicester too because I didn’t know the place or anyone there. One day I got totally lost and I sat by an empty police car and cried until the officer came back.”
With the support of her sister, Diane returned to her home town of Northampton but was unable to stay with her and her family long-term. She spent a month in a local bed and breakfast in a tiny room with shared facilities before getting an interview for a place at Oasis House.
“I was in a room downstairs at first but then moved into my flat upstairs on December 22nd. The manager Anne Brown [pictured above with Mr Lewer] was so lovely. It was my first day in the flat and very close to Christmas but she made it possible for me to have my younger son to visit for the first time. It meant so much to me to be able to see him and for us to spend time together.”
A year on and the 10-year-old visits regularly, while she is in contact with her elder son and hoping that 2019 will see them reunited properly.
“I don’t know if he’s ready to meet me yet. We message but we haven’t seen one another. He’s a teenager and he knows things, has seen things,” explains Diane who has also begun volunteering with a charity for the homeless.
“I love it here and I feel safe. Oasis is central to the area and I’m happy. But as much as I love it, I’m hoping that by Christmas 2019 I will be in a place of my own. I could have my son stay over a few nights a week and take him to school. I can’t do those things here. I’m hoping I will be seeing my elder son by then.
“That would be the icing on the cake.”