Shirley has been a Householder with Knowsley Supported Lodgings for 20 years. Householders accommodate and support homeless young people in their homes. Local Solutions relies on Householders like Shirley across Knowsley, Liverpool, Sefton, Wirral, Denbighshire, Flintshire and Conwy. Here is Shirley’s story and her advice for other Householders and people who are considering the role.
How did you become a Householder?
I have always been interested in children and young people and for many years I’ve always supported the most vulnerable. A friend of mine was working for Supported Lodgings – what was then called MAP (Merseyside Accommodation Project) and they suggested that I join as a Householder. I left it for a couple of years and then decided to get involved. I’ve enjoyed working with the young people and supported both girls and boys in my home.
What kind of things do you help the young people with?
I help them with learning how to cook and general health and hygiene. I support them when they are feeling down as well. I also offer them a listening ear if they need to talk.
How does it work in your home?
The young person has their own room with a shower and a television. Although, many of the girls I have had really enjoy coming downstairs and sharing the living area it’s nice for them to have their own bit of privacy. With their own space, they can have their quiet moments which is good for them.
What are the biggest challenges for you?
I’d say the biggest challenge is when you are looking after a young person with a lot of issues although I have not had many.
As a Householder do you get support from the Supported Lodging Offices?
I would be totally lost without the help from the team. If I ever have a problem I just ring up and discuss it with them. When I first started out as a Householder I was a bit nervous to tell them about any problems I had because I felt as though it was a failing on my behalf.
I then realised that they have had so more experience than me and they can then teach me. When it’s getting a bit too heavy for me to handle I know I can always tell them and they come across every time. It’s then when you realise it wasn’t really a big issue and they’ll sit and explain everything to you. They are absolutely amazing.
What are your top tips for anyone who might be starting out as a Householder?
My advice would be to not give up too easily. Sometimes it is difficult but it is so rewarding as well. I have had girls that have completely turned their lives around and have come out really well the other side. People are a little bit nervous that they can’t cope with it but I would say persevere with it and give it a try. You’ll probably find that you’ll enjoy it more than you thought you would.
How does being a Householder fit in with your own family commitments? What do you like doing in your spare time?
All of my ‘little birds’ have flown the coop so I live on my own. They still all come round to visit with their kids but usually it’s just me and the young person at the house. Most of the girls I’ve supported here have enjoyed meeting my wider family and a few of them have said they feel like they are part of the family, which is really nice.
What do you like doing in your spare time?
I’m a professional singer, I do a lot of singing and I help to run a club for bands from the 60s. The bands come down to the jam night that I run and it’s amazing some of the people we have had that come down.
What do you think makes a good Householder?
I think what makes a good Householder is someone that is willing to open up to a complete stranger. To be able to take them into your home and also be aware that they are probably feeling more nervous than you are. It’s important to be able to lend an ear when they are down and troubled. As well as giving a little bit of advice when you can and hopefully they will accept it. I think kindness goes a long way and it does make a big difference.
Supported Lodgings provides family style accommodation to homeless young people and operates in 7 boroughs across Merseyside and North Wales. To find out more click here.