Here one resident gives us an insight into what life is like at CENS
8.30am First knock of the morning from the project worker. I get up and jump in the shower. I’ve been staying at CENS for three weeks now but still appreciate having my own shower. After spending two months in a tent, I am grateful for the smallest of things. Didn’t sleep brilliantly as the pub over the road had music playing late but got stuff to do today so need to get moving.
9.15am Grab some coffee, toast and cereal from the kitchen. There’s a new resident who I haven’t met before, he looks nervous. I say hello and offer to show him around and take him to Beacon House.
9.30am Everyone is asked to leave CENS. There are a few stragglers in the smoking area but I’m out the door with the newbie.
10am Beacon House opens. I leave the new resident at reception and head to see the mental health worker who’s at Beacon House every day. I had some disappointing news yesterday about my housing situation and am feeling quite down about it. The mental health nurse is really supportive and lets me rant!
11am Get on the computers and start looking for a private let. It seems impossible to find anywhere that will accept people on benefits. Every time I see ‘professionals only’ my heart drops. If only someone would give me a chance, I could afford the rent and then look for work once I’ve got a secure place to live.
12pm Lunch is served at Beacon House every day. I catch up with the newbie. He seems more settled and is laughing and joking with some of the other service users.
1pm The substance misuse worker from Open Road is there today. I haven’t used drugs for a few years now but it’s good to see the others getting the support they need.
1.30pm Have a quick game of pool with newbie and others.
2pm Beacon House shuts. As I leave, I see my ex with another person I’ve seen about on the streets. Get a pang in my stomach but keep walking. Got to leave that life behind, but it’s hard when everyone knows each other.
2.30pm Have a meeting with my work coach at the job centre. She is encouraging and seems to empathise with my situation. I uploaded my CV last week which she says was good. I can’t wait to start working again.
3.30pm Have a wander down to Castle Park and see some other CENS residents having a game of football. It’s nice to chill and have a laugh in the sunshine. Living off £300 a month is difficult so we find ways to socialise for free.
5pm I’m at CENS as soon as the door opens! I get breath-tested and asked to clean my room. Project workers check my room every day and Tuesdays are the day I need to give it a good clean.
6pm After cleaning room, I pay my service charge. I don’t get Universal credit payment until next week so I pay a week in advance. I haven’t always been good with budgeting so staff know to prompt me to pay so I don’t get in debt while staying here.
7pm We all chat and eat together in the garden. The food is really good here and after being out all day it’s nice to have something hot and filling. I always make sure I help wash up, even though the staff are happy to do it, I like to be useful.
7.30pm I head down to the CLCS Gym. It’s quite basic but for £3.99 a month, I can’t complain! Having an hour at the gym gives me something positive to do and it’s amazing how quickly my fitness has improved.
8.30pm Head back to CENS. The project worker reminds me that I am due to take a drugs test tonight. I am happy to do it knowing I will get a clean result. This will be the fourth one I’ve had to do since being here.
9pm Watch a movie with the other residents but find it hard to relax. My head keeps going over my housing situation. I really just need a landlord to give me a chance. I have another scan of spareroom.com but nothing affordable comes up.
10pm Have a chat with the project worker about my worries. She reassures me that they can see how hard I’m trying. Fingers cross something will come up soon.
11pm We’re asked to retire to our rooms. I feel better knowing that all the staff are trying to help me. I feel lucky I have a warm bed and a full stomach as there was a time when I had neither.