Biniam and Stephen pictured, talks about bidding on Salford Home Search for the first time since moving in two years ago. Here he discusses the challenges and success he experienced working with a young person deemed not to have a “local connection” to the area.
“It’s taken us two years to be able to do this and it has been a very tough journey for Biniam. He came to Salford Foyer from National Asylum Support Service accommodation in nearby Worsley. Biniam set his life up again here – attending college to complete his ESOL studies and took up part-time employment in Manchester city centre. He was looking forward to the next stage of making a successful life for himself by registering on Salford Home Search to find his own flat and home in the UK.
However Biniam was rejected when he initially applied for an account to bid and move on because of the postcode of his original asylum accommodation was just over the Salford border and told that he would instead have to look for housing 20 miles away in Wigan. Like many councils, Salford have criteria on what constitutes a local connection and it seemed very unfair that through no fault of his own, Biniam had been referred to Salford Foyer. It didn’t matter how much we tried, his appeal for help would not be heard and it felt like Biniam did everything right but systems stood in the way.
We explored different things – like referring Biniam to the Foyer in Wigan (but Biniam’s employment and new friends were in Salford and Manchester) or registering Biniam with Manchester city council as he was employed there (but there was a very long waiting list and progress was slow). It was tough going on us too as staff because we are here to help people and find a way around the barriers that stand in the way.
But things started to change following a visit from Hannah from the Foyer Federation, who was exceptionally helpful and resourceful in finding ways to spread Biniam’s message. Firstly, she arranged for the local MP Rebecca Long-Bailey to visit the Foyer and heard Biniam’s and other stories directly from young people. Then the lead members of Salford Council for Housing and Finance then visited the Foyer, and we were able to directly speak to people who could overturn the rejection of Biniam’s claim to a local connection. Additionally, a proposal was passed at the Salford council AGM for them to look at how the transition could be made for people moving on from supported accommodation to independent living.
We’d like to thank our MP and local council for spending their time and energy on looking into Biniam’s case. It meant that Biniam’s story was heard and we were able to register him on Salford Home Search after two years at the Foyer. The photo shows him after making his first bids and he’s finally looking forward to finding his own home in Salford, saying “It is a big relief and I am very happy now that I can bid and all the help I have had.”
Stephen Entwhistle, Places for People at Salford Foyer