“There’s a definite link between offering people their dream home and making sure people have a home,” says Russell Burrington, Branch Director for Barnstaple’s EweMove estate agency.

Having experience of our work from a past role helping people into work and then hearing about the lack of emergency shelter services last winter in the local news, Russell took it upon himself to do something for the vulnerable people of North Devon and raise funds for Freedom’s housing and community work. Opting to donate a percentage of commission raised on all housing sales in December, Russell presented Nigel Harris, Freedom’s MD, with a huge cheque for £570 on June 21st this year.

“I don’t think Freedom get enough recognition for all the work they do for the local community – helping people into work, mental health issues, there’re quite a wide range of things that Freedom do that attracted me to helping them and it’s definitely something I will continue to do as a business.” Russell said.

We provide a number of housing options to vulnerable people in North Devon. Over the last 3 years, we've been developing a property portfolio to help those who are otherwise hard to house. Our housing serves the community by helping those that would otherwise be homeless, such as people overcoming addiction. All the properties that are taken on are refurbished to a high standard and maintained to ensure those living in these homes are able to move forward with their lives and reach full independence.

Recognising the need for safe housing

We became involved with providing housing when it was recognised that there were not enough suitable places for vulnerable and complex individuals in North Devon. Many of our clients were unable to maintain tenancies due to complex issues and traditional rented accommodation is not geared to meeting their needs. Consequently, we were seeing people constantly moving between periods of being housed and then homeless again. Rather than see this happen over again we worked with North Devon Council and Torridge Council to see how we could provide accommodation and make a difference by getting, and keeping, people out of homelessness.

“We created the Freedom Housing project and developed a portfolio of properties to provide differing levels of support to the residents depending on their complexity. Support staff work with residents to help them deal with health issues, benefits and financial skills, work skills development, maintaining recovery from addiction, life skills and much more. It is an area of our work that is increasing and needs more support financially for us to continue to develop,” says Nigel.

Connecting people with other services

Our housing service connects people with our other projects through the Day Centre, allowing tenants and clients to seamlessly access a range of programmes to help them get their lives back on track. Building computer skills, updating a C.V, accessing support for mental health issues or simply learning to manage a budget and cook healthy meals – all of these simple services allow people to take the steps needed to maintain a home and improve their lives.

“All of our work at the Freedom Centre is based upon experience of working in our local community over more than ten years,” says Nigel, “by providing a place where people can come to work out a number of issues they are experiencing, we allow them to make the steps they need to make to build better futures as individuals, and that is great for them but also the wider community of North Devon. It’s fantastic to have a local estate agent showing their heart in the community and supporting Freedom to help more people into housing with a donation like Russell has given. “