Al’s Annexe is CENS’ move-on house we aquired in 2017 and is situated next door to the main shelter. It was named after Alun Richards, who was a wonderful project worker at CENS, who sadly passed away in 2020.
It’s a 4-bedroom house with a garden and communal dining room and kitchen. It bridges the gap for residents who are ready to live more independently but can’t rent privately. Most letting agents and landlords ask for a deposit and charge admin fees, which is too much for someone at CENS to have upfront. Often, the residents are surviving on around £300 a month from universal credit and have no family or friends who can help.
A good fit for the annexe
Our housing co-ordinator and other members of staff assess how residents are getting on during their stay at CENS. If we feel Al’s Annexe would be a good fit, we offer them the opportunity to move in for 6 months. We are still on-hand for any queries or support they may need, and we’d only offer someone a place who we felt would be happy living there.
N, a current licensee said, “When I was offered a place next door, I was over the moon. I previously suffered with mental health issues which meant I’d got into rent arrears (although I am now paying them off). I knew no private landlord would take me on as I couldn’t get a good reference. It was hard to stick to all the rules at CENS sometimes. I’m able to have some independence back now so it was worthwhile.”
Finding their way
By moving into Al’s Annexe, they can adjust to living more independently. “It was strange getting used to the lack of routine at first,” said one ex licensee. “The opening times at CENS meant I had my day planned out for me. When I moved across to the annexe, I made the most of having a lie-in but after that I made my own routine and motivated myself to get up and make the most of the day.”
Getting out there
We recommend that licensee’s look for work during this time as well. Often, they’ve had a break from employment due to being homeless but are keen to get back to work. We charge a reasonable rent so they can still save for a deposit. A recent licensee said, “I found not working while at CENS really difficult. Luckily, I have always worked and found employment within the first few weeks of moving across to Al’s Annexe. Working, getting enough sleeping and eating right is what I’m focusing on now. Struggling financially is something I never want to go back to again.”
Al’s Annexe moving forward
So far, we’ve had 10 residents staying at the annexe. All of whom have gone on to find more permanent accommodation. During the pandemic we had to lockdown the premises so two people ended up staying there for a lot longer than anticipated. We hope to help many more people back to financial and domestic freedom in the years to come.
If you’d like to support the work we do in Al’s Annexe, please consider donating here.