"The word ‘peace’ – maybe I need to be more conscious about what it can mean to somebody, and what it means to me.

Growing up in a stable environment, in a home where there’s peace, where you can foster relationships with family members. It’s that sense of belonging. It has given me a sense of who I am. To me that’s really peaceful. I find it now quite empowering.

And I suppose that’s the striking bit. Many, many of the people we support are still unable to find peace – even in their own home. They struggle to find peace because of the trauma they’ve been through in their lives. Many would say to us they’ve never managed a home or never had a home.

For us, it’s trying to support them to be able to find their peace, in whatever way we can.

Half the battle is finding a home they can afford. I still find it remarkable that we can do that. It’s a huge starting point. They’ve got their dignity. They’ve got their home. But it’s the tip of the iceberg. It’s a bit like that saying, ‘don’t judge a person until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes’.

We build relationships with people, making sure they know they have choices – and respecting their choices. We build mutual respect, stick with people for as long as it takes. Eventually, once people settle-in, you see they find a sense of contentment. To me that’s huge.

And I think the other part for me is the number of people that we’ve referred into education and Community Employment schemes. Suddenly they’re able to go out there and mix with the wider community, whereas before they would have been judged by the community.

But the best thing for me is handing someone the keys to their home. And seeing the little things that staff will do to make it a place people can call home. To see some dignity flashing across people’s faces when they realise it’s their space, their home.

We have a fantastic team that shows genuine warmth and compassion for the people they’re working with; always striving to move people from homelessness to a stable environment and a chance to be in a much better place in their lives.

It’s what South East Simon has been doing for 20 years. I meet people all the time who want to help, donate, do something meaningful. They know someone we’ve helped over the years, maybe a relative or a family member. It’s what makes us a community.”

- Ann.