Working together brings better results: a case study in how Oxford Poverty Action can contribute

Collaborative working is at the heart of what we do in Oxford Poverty Action. By using donations to support our partner agencies we really can make a difference to the lives of vulnerable people who are experiencing complex issues connected to homelessness or home instability. The following case study, based on a report from our colleagues at SMART Howard House, a residential treatment centre which supports the recovery of people experiencing the devastating effects of drug and alcohol dependency, shows how small changes can have a big impact and lead to positive outcomes.

Before coming to Howard House, L had a long history of dependency on alcohol and substance misuse, resulting in a chaotic lifestyle and a series of convictions for minor offences. L was already committed and motivated to turn things around, having been a regular participant in other alcohol and substance dependency drop-in treatment programmes in Oxford. More structured support was essential for L, and a residential place was found at Howard House.

Before work started on L’s flat


Broken door
Staircase before

L came to the house very excited and keen to make the most of the opportunity it offered. The security of knowing that keyworkers and staff were there to offer guidance and support around the clock allowed L to participate fully in the treatment programme. L gained confidence by knowing that they were there to offer a steady and helping hand when the going was tough. The team at Howard house also encouraged L to address the issue of housing at an early stage. L had existing accommodation through Oxford County Council, who, when contacted by L, agreed to write off all rent arrears: a new start.

Returning to previous accommodation after the supportive environment of Howard House can be an anxious time, and in L’s case it was quite a low point in the treatment programme. L first visited with a keyworker, who found the house extremely dirty, messy and in need of repair. As well as organising volunteer help to clean and organise the flat, Howard House approached OxPat for funds to fit a new carpet, undertake the necessary minor repairs and buy a number of items to help make the house not just inhabitable but a clean, comfortable home for L. A small change, but one that made a big difference as these before and after images show.

After completion: a new carpet and a new door help to make it a welcoming home for L

New carpet
Staircase after

L was encouraged throughout by Howard House staff to take decisions and effect positive changes, from supporting L to have the courage to contact the council to being there when the carpet fitter came to quote. L is now living independently in the flat whilst continuing to be supported in Lifeline’s 12 step community rehabilitation programme. Through our ongoing collaboration with Howard House, OxPat are proud to be part of L’s journey.

A new start

Staircase after