Friday morning and off I was to support a service user with a through the gate from HMP Foston Hall. I didn’t know much about the person as unfortunately I had not been able to meet the service user beforehand in custody. At the gate I was presented with a 57 year old lady. Ruby was clearly very anxious and nervous as she didn't expect anyone to be there waiting to support her. Unfortunately Ruby suffers from Parkinson’s disease which left her extremely vulnerable to use public transport. Ruby has a history of drug offences and as a result left her with no friends or family. To add to the already stressful situation for Ruby, she was also released with nowhere to live.

After our journey to probation it was now approaching dinnertime and the realisation was starting to kick in that Ruby truly had nowhere to go, to eat or sleep. As it was Friday and time was getting on I knew that it was going to be very difficult to secure any sort of housing, as places would be closing for the weekend. My only chance of helping Ruby was to support her to the local council office to complete a homeless application, bearing in mind I have supported numerous service users to complete these applications to be told they do not have a priority need. Concerns about Ruby being left to fend for herself on the streets all weekend were growing as we waited in the council office, for what we felt was a lifetime. We were hoping and praying they would see her as vulnerable person and offer some kind of emergency accommodation, even if it was just for the weekend.

Sitting looking at Ruby reminded me of my Nanna and I just wanted to do anything I could to make her situation better, after all what chance does she have being released with no fixed abode? Luckily the council classed Ruby as a priority need and housed her in a hotel for the weekend. This was a massive relief for Ruby as well as me, to know that she had somewhere temporary to stay and wouldn’t be struggling on the streets. Ruby shed a tear and honestly couldn’t thank Sova enough for the service that we provide. Although Sova may not receive gratification from every service user we mentor, it truly means a lot when we can really make a difference in someone's life and that difference is always rewarded with a heartfelt thank you.

Ruby has now secured long term supported accommodation with the Lyme Trust and is doing really well. Although this is in an area that she doesn’t know it’s a fresh start for her to build friendships and receive the support she needs.