Redmond is 63 years old. In 2014 he moved back to the North West to be near to his younger brother, who has learning difficulties. He explains:
“I wanted to be nearer to my brother to help look after him. I used to work in advocacy for older people, disabled people and people with learning difficulties so I thought I could play my part.
It was really hard to find accommodation without a job. It seems to be the last bastion of discrimination. As a last resort I ended up in a glorified ‘doss house’ in Rochdale where most of the other residents had criminal pasts or had problems with drink and drugs. It was tiny, filled with vermin, had no heating and fights broke out often. It was a crazy place and although I thought it was only for a short term, somehow I ended up living there for 4 years.
I was at really low ebb just before Christmas. It was only seeing my brother that kept me going, as I’m sure that without my duty to him I would have considered ending it all.”
It was on my weekly visit to the Job Centre in Rochdale that I first heard about Motiv8. My job coach had heard good things about Motiv8 and suggested that I speak to them. I was quite sceptical to be honest, as I had had bad experiences with other agencies that promised lots but didn’t deliver, but I was happy to give it a go.
My first meeting was with Martine, a volunteer co-ordinator for Motiv8, and she told me about the benefits of volunteering (there was quite a stigma attached to where I was living, so this was a possible route to finding employment). She also explained how Motiv8 worked and said that she would refer me to the programme where I would be allocated a Key Worker. That was when I met Sue-Ann, who has been an absolute godsend.”
How has Motiv8 made a difference to your life?
“Sue-Ann said that we should look into my housing issues and see if we could find somewhere more appropriate for me to live. I originally had my heart set on moving to Ashton but that proved to be a non-starter as I had no obvious links to the area and I would have been quite low on the housing list. I was probably at my lowest ebb at this point, but Sue-Ann opened my eyes to other possibilities. She asked if there were other areas I would consider living, and as my main priority was to be on a decent bus route so that I could visit my brother, we came up with Middleton. Sue-Ann wasted no time in contacting Rochdale Borough Housing (RBH).
Now, and this is the clever thing about Motiv8, I was also volunteering and training at the Volition service at this time and this played an important part. I was getting help from the Job Club there and they were really helping me understand computers and technology. I had been on computer training courses before, but this felt customised for me. And of course to apply for houses, you have to do this online, so the two things came together at a crucial point.
It was my visits to the Volition service and my weekly meetings with Sue-Ann that kept me going. Volition was a great stepping stone to get me ready for change. Sue-Ann was also on hand to help me with the online application process for housing - which, to be honest, would have really intimidated me before. It was probably the main reason that I had not been able to tackle my housing issue.
In addition, Sue-Ann, possibly because of the great rapport we had by then, broached the subject of Sheltered Housing as a possible option for me. To be honest, I didn’t know much about sheltered housing and although I’m 63, I had no idea that I would qualify for it.
On 21 February we put in a bid to RBH and 2 days later we had 3 possible places to view in Middleton. The sheltered housing scheme was in an ideal central location and perfect for reaching Rochdale and Oldham. I viewed them all and within a day I was asked which one would I like. I was introduced to the scheme manager and was overjoyed to get my preferred choice. They even said that I could move my things in beforehand so that my tenancy could start on a date that suited me - and importantly this meant I did not lose rent money on my current accommodation.
I only had a few possessions, so over a week or two I was able to transport my belongings by bus. Then on the 12th March I officially moved in to my new home - and I can truly call this a home now, not just accommodation!”
What might have happened if Motiv8 had not helped?
“If Motiv8 had not been available to me, I dread to think what would have happened to me. I was at an extremely low point just before Christmas - and really it was just my visits to my brother that was keeping me afloat. I also had a set-back when I realised that I could not move to Ashton, which I had had my heart set on. It took me a few weeks to get over that.
However, Sue-Ann made be think again and opened my eyes to other possibilities. I can’t believe the difference between how I felt at Christmas and all the changes that have happened in a few short weeks. As Easter approaches, I told Sue-Ann that I felt like this was a personal resurrection. I am in such a different place - both emotionally and literally - to where I was at Christmas. Now I’ve got so much to live for.”
What does Motiv8 and the support you got mean to you?
“The support I have had from Motiv8 has been fantastic. Unbelievable. From my contact with Martine and the volunteering training, which I am still doing, to all the support I’ve had from Sue-Ann. I can’t believe how my life has changed for the better. Everyone I’ve come into contact with through Motiv8 have been brilliant. They’ve even found me some funding for a cooker and fridge-freezer - things I didn’t have in my previous place as they were communal facilities. There is even a laundry room so I can do my washing for free. No more visits to the launderette!
I have been so impressed with all the staff at Motiv8, and especially Sue-Ann. I’ve told her that she brings youthful commitment with a wisdom beyond her years. I can’t thank her enough.”
Redmond’s Key Worker, Sue-Ann, said:
"I've truly enjoyed working with Redmond and watching his progress these past few months, His wisdom and knowledge has been a pleasure to experience. When I first started working with Redmond he expressed he had been let down by services in the past and didn't have much faith in agencies. Our first few appointments were a bit rocky but once Redmond was aware of his opportunities he was excited for what his future could be and how his quality of life could improve. Gaining his own property and attending Volition has helped Redmond regain his confidence and rebuild his self-esteem."