27 October 21

How specialised supported housing can offer people “a new start in life” - Will’s story

Brunswick Gardens is a new build specialised supported housing property funded by Triple Point Social Housing REIT with £3.3m invested in the scheme.

Located in the heart of the village of Brunswick near Newcastle, Brunswick Gardens opened in 2017 and provides 16 high specification one-bedroom apartments for people with mental health needs, helping them to live independently with 24-hour on-site staff support.

Each apartment has an open-plan kitchen, a living room, and a wet room-style bathroom with a shared secure garden, CCTV, and plenty of on-site parking. Brunswick Gardens is close to convenience stores and neighbouring Gosforth provides access to larger amenities such as high-street shops, banks, restaurants and cafés. Inclusion Housing provides the housing management services.

Residents benefit from a network of staff support which helps them to manage their daily lives. We spoke to Will, one of the residents, to understand why he enjoys living at Brunswick Gardens and what life is like for him since he moved in.

For 56-year-old wildlife lover and film fan Will, moving into Brunswick Gardens a fortnight before Christmas 2020 represented “a new start in life”.

It is a place where he feels peaceful, calm, safe and which Will is proud to call home. It has also meant the creation of new friendships.

Will said: “I find it hard to make friends but when I came here, I started to make some and we watch films together on Netflix, and that’s all helped me a lot with my mental health.”

“My first Christmas here was brilliant. I had my friends around, put my tree up and had a little bit of a party.”

Originally from Northumberland, Will had been in four different hospitals over a period of 10 years.  Describing the moment he found out that there was a flat for him at Brunswick Gardens, he said:

“I had been in hospital for eight months and the social worker came and told me about this flat. When I heard about it, I was over the moon.”

Before arriving, Will wasn’t sure what moving to Brunswick Gardens would feel like, but seeing the flat, and furnishing it to reflect his love of animals and nature, helped him to make it “his own”.

House-proud Will describes his flat as “spacey, bright and homely”. He added: “I furnished it all myself and I’m pretty proud of what I’ve got – I’ve put my own stamp on things, and it makes it feel a lot like home to me.”

An array of gorilla, tiger and bear ornaments decorate his flat with a huge black panther poster taking proud centre stage. On Will’s kitchen unit doors is a kaleidoscope of butterflies, reflecting Will’s gentle nature-loving side.

Will’s home is illuminated with colour when he flicks on the colour-changing LED wall lights, which he has complemented with LED light branches placed in a vase. In the opposite corner of the room, another vase proudly and poignantly displays an assortment of artificial flowers – which Will’s late mum gave to him 20 years ago.

Living in Brunswick Gardens is also a sanctuary for Will and has given him a peaceful, supportive environment to call home.

“I really do like it here because it feels safe,” explains Will. “The staff are brilliant and are here 24 hours, there are cameras, and the garden is fenced off. It means I’m not so panicky. Living here has given me a peaceful home.

“I like to go out on the swings in the garden, listening to the birds tweeting and watching the clouds go by.

“It’s so peaceful and there’s no noise. I’ve also been down to the park at Big Waters Lake which is only five minutes away. I like to see the swans there.”

Will welcomes his family around regularly at Brunswick Gardens. He said: “Living here means my family can come to see me. My brother, brother-in-law, two sisters and nephews and nieces visit, and my brother Victor also takes me shopping.”

And it was Victor who taught him how to play chess at the age of eight, a hobby which Will still loves to play – a chess set sits on the side of his dining table.

“My brother was 10 years older than me and I was beating him when I was 10,” he says with a smile. “I also beat a chess master at the age of 13. Always think four moves ahead on the chess board is my tip.”

Will also shares his passion for films with his friends living at Brunswick Gardens and enjoys playing his array of Xbox games with staff.

“A few of us sometimes watch films together. I like horrors, action films with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Marvel films like Superman, Batman and Ironman, and watching boxsets on Netflix,” he said. “I have a few favourite games on the Xbox – Call of Duty and Tomb Raider.”

A doormat from the TV show Friends outside Will’s flat displays Joey’s infamous catchphrase “How you doin?”. For Will, living at Brunswick Gardens in his own “peaceful” home, where he has made friends and his family can visit him, means his life – in his own words – “is a lot better”.


Tags on this post: social housing