"We all have one overarching goal here: providing a safe sanctuary for people turning to us for help, especially if you had been out on the street in a very unsafe and scary environment.

I remember our first Housing First tenant. He was a very vulnerable man who used to regularly come in to our reception area for food, something we did at the time. I thought it was great to have a system in place where the priority is to get the person off the street and into their own place they can afford, into a safe environment where all the supports they need can be put in place.

The team here really respect people, whether it’s the tenants they’re supporting or people ringing up looking for advice. I get calls here from people in situations where the landlord is upping the rent, they can’t afford it, they have to move. There are a lot of people in dire circumstances that would bring tears to your eyes. Many of them have probably been let down in life and haven’t been shown respect. I think it’s important for us to show them that respect. It’s a starting point for people to feel more confidence and feel they’re loved and trusted.

We’re a community here and for me, the people we’re supporting are at the centre. They’re at the hub. The rest of the wheel really is the Simon team and the people raising or donating money so we can be there for people turning to us for help.

Like the man who was on the streets for a number of years. Very chaotic. His first tenancy didn’t work out. But we tried again. Another chance. This time he settled down and he became calm. He had a completely different existence. He has since passed on but knowing that he spent his final years in his own home with that sense of calm gives me hope that as a community we can offer hope for everyone.

I like how transparent we are – it gives our donors confidence; it gives us confidence and it gives the people we’re supporting confidence – I think it’s important for them to believe in us and what we’re trying to achieve.

I’d like to think that in 20 years’ time South East Simon won’t exist because it would mean that everybody was housed and living in their safe sanctuary.”

- Esme.