Aspire – “Our House”
Aspire, Cottsway Housing and West Oxfordshire District Council continue to work in partnership to deliver the community housing project “Our House”, providing personalised independent living and employment support to young adults up to the age of 35 in West Oxfordshire.
About Our House
Through the “Our House” community project, large, empty properties are transformed into shared accommodation for project participants to reside in, paying a social rent inclusive of bills for their own rooms, with access to communal kitchens, living rooms, gardens and laptops.
Once settled into their new homes, participants work with two Aspire Housing & Employment Support Workers, Nina Frere and Steve Laurence, to learn how to manage their tenancies and navigate their way towards meaningful employment.
Through workshops, setting job goals, accessing work experience, training and apprenticeships, participants can get “work-ready”, gaining independence and skills safe in the knowledge that their rent is affordable and they are securely housed. By receiving support to explore the education, training and employment opportunities available, participants can engage with a diverse range of local employers and training providers, alongside initiatives such as the Kickstart work experience scheme.
Once they have found the right development opportunity for them, participants receive ongoing support to sustain their progress towards and beyond their personal aspirations, obtaining stability, improved wellbeing and financial security, with a view to moving on to their own accommodation and achieving independent living.
A year of Our House
Today, the “Our House” project hosts 13 young people across three shared properties in Witney, West Oxfordshire – and celebrates its first anniversary as a partnership project this April.
Despite its origins amid the pandemic and national lockdowns, the beneficiaries of the “Our House” project have adapted and thrived, with wellbeing at the heart of their support throughout this time. In addition to regular calls, messaging and distanced doorstep visits to check in and provide food parcels and PPE, project staff have ensured digital connectivity for all participants to stay in contact and access online education, training and tutoring opportunities, benefits and furlough advice, with minimal disruption to progress towards individual goals.
“Nina and Steve have helped me a lot through COVID-19. They listen, go out of their way to help with everything they can, and have supported me to access many opportunities. If it wasn’t for them, I would probably be in my room doing nothing.”
Ross, a current participant of the ‘Our House’ project
Find out more about Aspire’s work today
Visit our website to explore our full range of housing projects, and the award-winning support Aspire continues to provide across employment, homelessness prevention and personal development in Oxfordshire and the wider Thames Valley.
Published: 2 March 2021