[quote]If the government cuts funding, they’ll be killing a lot of people”[/quote]

When the brewery shut the Scunthorpe pub that Daryl Peachy managed, he not only lost his job but his home.

Forced to shoplift to survive, Daryl ended up in prison where he was referred to a supported housing scheme that he credits with saving his life.

Speaking from The Orchard, developed by Together Housing Group on land donated by Hull City Council and run by homeless charity Emmaus Hull and East Riding, Daryl, 35, said:

“I was living above the pub so when the brewery shut it down, I didn’t only lose my job but also the roof over my head. I started drinking so heavily that I couldn’t tell the difference between drunk and sober.

“Being on the street is dangerous. I witnessed some terrifying things, things that made me disgusted how humans can hurt another human being.

“You do what you have to in order to survive. I ended up in prison for six months. It wasn’t my proudest moment.”

As with all Emmaus schemes, residents at The Orchard, known as companions, are required to work a minimum of 40 hours a week in return for a roof over their head, food and a daily allowance. The community is supported by a social enterprise including a cafe and retail space which sells upcycled household goods.

Since moving in to The Orchard, Daryl has achieved his Level 2 Food Hygiene certificate and City and Guilds in Cycle Mechanics.

Daryl said: “This place has given me my work ethic back, which I’d lost for such a long time. I’ve found something I’m good at, other than pouring beer, which I’ll never do again.

“The staff here have restored my faith in people after what I saw on the streets. They treat you like a human being, not a Housing Benefit number.”

The only benefit the companions claim is Housing Benefit, which until earlier this month was under threat. The government’s announcement that all supported housing funding will be covered by the welfare system, was a victory for the National Housing Federation’s Starts at Home campaign. However, there is still work to be done as the government looks at how support costs need to be funded and the sector must continue to demonstrate the value of supported housing so it doesn’t face this uncertainty in the future.

As part of the Starts at Home campaign, Daryl is urging the government to protect vital services.

“Places like this are so important because it gives people like me a purpose in life.

“Before the government think about cutting funding, they need to experience homelessness for themselves. Spend some time on the street, it’s hard and it’s scary. Every day above ground is not necessarily a good day.

“If the government cuts funding, they’ll be killing a lot of people. If it wasn’t for this place, I’d have drunk myself to death.”