TO THE majority of people, home means a warm, safe, comfortable place where we can eat, relax and sleep.

Most of us take it for granted. But for many people, ‘home’ does not bring security or comfort. And in some cases, even when it does, it can be short-lived.

Horton Housing’s Stay at Home service helps people at risk of losing their home, as well as assisting others to find accommodation that suits their needs.

Kieron, 17, is living in supported accommodation in Keighley, provided through STAY at Home.

“I was having a lot of arguments at home and it didn’t really work me living there,” he says.

“I came to a housing officer who put me in Mount Royd - a Bradford-based Group Living Service for young people run by Horton Housing - then they moved me here.”

He is studying A-levels in IT, applied science and EPQ - Extended Project Qualification, at South Craven Sixth Form College, and hoping to one day get a job in IT.

“The staff have been very helpful,” he adds. “If I have needed to talk to someone, I know they are there.”

Kieron has also completed tenancy-ready training provided by STAY at Home, which prepares him to eventually move into privately rented accommodation by helping him learn how to manage rent and bills and to look after a property.

Such training also helps people to acquire skills to live independently and improve personal safety and welfare.

“Our aim is to help people to find or to maintain their accommodation,” says service manager for Bradford Kevin Long. “We help them to deal with tenancy-related issues - it could be bills, the upkeep of the property, debt or antisocial behaviour.”

Problems such as substance misuse are also addressed through linking clients with other services who can offer specialist help.

They also liaise closely with other Horton Housing schemes such as Bradford Respite Intermediate Care Support Service, or people who have come out of hospital, are homeless and have ongoing health and support needs.

“It is not just about finding a home - it is about getting people tenancy-ready,” says Kevin. “We work towards them being more independent.”

The service - which supports 232 clients at any one time - also works with householders struggling to maintain their tenancies. “We visit communities and work with people in their homes,” says Kevin. “Some may have been served with a notice to quit, have large arrears or be having problems with other people in the area.”

Covering the whole of the Bradford district, STAY at Home supports people in private tenancies, mortgaged properties and those with social landlords.

“Our goal for that person is to support them to remain in their home or establish themselves in new tenancies,” says Gemma Mason, who heads the service in Keighley.

Gary, who is profoundly deaf and has a history of mental health problems, moved in to supported accommodation in Keighley ten months ago, after finding himself homeless after problems in his personal life.

“I had a relationship break-up,” he said, “and became homeless because of that. I ended up with my dad for a couple of months, which did not work. I went to the Council to see what they could do to help me and they mentioned Horton Housing.”

A support worker assessed Gary and a flat was about to become available, so he moved in.

Says Gary: “Being here and having support lifts all the stress. It removes having to make phone calls about benefits or housing, due to my disability, and I get all the information I need.”

Gary is now looking to the future and has enrolled at Keighley College to do a Level 2 plumbing course.

“Since I came here I’ve been so much calmer,” he adds.

The programme of support helps to avoid people having to move in and out of temporary accommodation or hostels.

Mark Hanson, head of service of the Community Support Agency, of which STAY in Bradford is part, says “STAY at Home plays an invaluable role in preventing homelessness across the district by working closely with individuals to keep their accommodation and live as independently as possible in their local communities.”

“The success of ‘floating support’ type services like this are that they go to the individual rather than the other way round. We find that this greatly increases engagement with the service as it’s delivered in people’s own homes and on their own terms.”