At Foundation, we embed co-production in all of the relationships we have with our customers. Co-production is built on the idea that those we work with are best placed to help shape and design the support that they need. From housing advice to learning basic life skills such as cooking or keeping a clean home, our customers tell us what support will help them and then together with our Foundation colleagues, we make it happen.

On co-production, Sam Martin, Operations Manager said:

‘For me it’s imperative to hear the voices of our customers, as this lets us know if they are getting what they need and not what we think they need.  It gives us the opportunity to develop strategies and services that keep us travelling together in the right direction. Ultimately it’s all about the customer’

Leigh has a tenancy with Foundation Durham, here’s his story, told by him.

‘Foundation is the closest thing I have to a family right now’.

Before I got on the wrong side of the law, I was on a decent wage as head chef; I had a cottage and friends. Then literally overnight, my world turned upside down.

In 2014, I was arrested for a crime I am now incredibly ashamed of and got bail for 2 years – I kept all this hidden. Fast forward to 2016 when my court date finally arrived and I admitted to everything and got a suspended sentence. Social media went into a frenzy and within 48 hours, I’d lost my job, my house and everyone around me. I had nothing but 1 weeks wage to call my own and my car.

I slept in my car night after night. The small money I had left was running out.  I had the same grubby clothes on; couldn’t wash properly; afford to eat properly. I was at the bottom of the re-homing list and I knew the only option was to contact my sister. I stayed with her in Durham until I moved into a hostel with another organisation. Apart from contact with the staff, I isolated myself from everyone else. It was a very lonely time.

Then, thanks to my Probation Officer and a meeting with Georgina at Foundation, my life started to turn around. Georgina made me feel so comfortable, that I was upfront and honest – I stopped hiding behind all the lies I’d been so used to.  We really did work together to find out what would be best for me, for me to get back on track. I wasn’t told what to do or where to go, we discussed it together and, in the space of a week, I moved from the hostel into a Foundation property. My own place, a 1 bed roomed bungalow.

Moving there is the best thing that’s happened to me since I became homeless.  I have never appreciated anything so much in my life.

I lost everything and everyone but now, now I have a new family and that family is Foundation. Deb, Mel and Jill have really pulled me back from a dark world. My journey’s not finished but I’m much further on and that’s why I now volunteer at Foundation. I’m part of something again and I use my chef experience to teach others. I provided Christmas Dinner for everyone here and I was also asked to be on the interview panel to recruit a new member of staff.

I belong again. Thank you Foundation.

Leigh