In July 2019 we launched our Move On project, to find landlords to rent directly to Emmaus so that those Companions who are ready to move out of the community house, can do so. The project, funded by Nationwide Building Society, was in full swing before lockdown. Five Companions have moved on into privately rented accommodation already – and Jim is the latest of them…

Jim was all set to move on to his own flat, and had just begun to look for a job, when lockdown was announced. Just over five months later, he’s now living in a one bedroomed flat and is an newly qualified internet engineer.

Thinking ahead

Over the last few years, Jim has studied hard to become a Cisco Certified Entry Network Technician (CCENT) – an industry standard qualification. “I did an awful lot of studying during lockdown” he said Jim’s aim is to find a job in his chosen profession but also recognises that this may be tricky at the current time –

“I’m thinking I might find a job in a supermarket until the situation around the pandemic and furloughing are more stable”.

Jim will continue as part of our retail team until he finds a job. Jim rents his flat directly from the landlord, with Emmaus Bristol acting as guarantor. The rent is financed though housing benefit and this, in addition to Jim’s pension, affords him enough to live independently. The flat is in a purpose-built block of six flats, built in the 1990s in south Bristol.

“It’s quieter than living in the Emmaus house and I like it” Jim says.

Helping out by renting out

When Sue’s elderly mum moved in with her and her husband, her flat became vacant.

“We wanted it to earn some money, obviously, but we really wanted it to be of benefit to someone who might otherwise struggle to find somewhere to live.”

Sue is now Jim’s landlord. She told us that Emmaus Bristol’s Move On initiative “meant we could work with a charity that wanted the same thing – a reasonable place to live at a reasonable rent for someone who might otherwise struggle to find somewhere due to their past experiences”.

Looking for landlords

Covid-19 has caused us to adapt our plans – we are now looking for landlords who are willing to rent directly to Companions, like Jim. Landlords gain regular rental payments with the knowledge that they are using their property for huge social benefit.

We have many Companions who are ready to move on, but it is extremely hard to find rental property. When a Companion leaves the Emmaus community, often the first step is to go onto Universal Credit and, although it’s unlawful, too many landlords discriminate against people on benefits.