Ramsgate mental health supported living property shuts service amid contract changes

The need for help

Nine residents of a mental-health supported living premises in Ramsgate are having to move because of a change of contract.

The facility in Nelson Crescent is owned and run by Sanctuary Housing and was commissioned by Porchlight and Kent County Council to provide the service for those with mental health needs.

But changes to the commissioning contracts being offered by Kent County Council means the facility will now be used to support homeless 16 and 17 year olds, care leavers and children in care.

Sanctuary Housing and Porchlight are working to find new accommodation for the current residents with one person already having moved out.

‘In the dark’

But Ez Kovacs, who has been living at the property since last June, says residents are in limbo – not knowing what their future holds and whether they will even be able to stay in Thanet.

The 53-year-old, who suffers PTSD related to childhood trauma, says residents received a letter on April 1 saying the service would end on April 31 and they would be moving on May 1. Now that time has been extended as Sanctuary and Porchlight work to find alternatives but Ez says she and fellow residents are in the dark about when and where they will be moved to.

She said: “We are in limbo, there is no projection plan and nothing is happening. We are in a position where we have been told we are out but still don’t know what we are doing.

“There are various mental health issues and we are here on a healing journey but that has stopped because there is no stability and no decisions so we are waiting on housing and mental health services.

“We feel we are being left to deal with it ourselves and the support we were receiving has been decimated because the staff are taken up with all the admin due to moving.

“We have heard people could be moved out of Thanet. I volunteer for two charities here and am well immersed in the community. It has been part of my healing and I am bereft at the thought of being put somewhere else, it’ll put me back in crisis.”

Change of contracts

A spokesperson for Sanctuary Supported Living said: “Our previous contract to provide individuals with mental health conditions with support towards living independently finished at the end of April.

“A new tender process completed by Kent County Council and Porchlight saw the contracts available change and in the future this service will become one that provides much needed support for young people leaving care in Thanet.

“We understand why this situation is unsettling for our current residents and we made sure we told them and their families about the changes as soon as we could. The welfare of our residents is our priority and we will continue to support them while we work closely with partner agencies to ensure they are found alternative accommodation that is suitable for all their needs.”

Additional funding

A spokesman for Porchlight said the charity is providing extra money to help get the residents into the services they need.

They added: “We commission Sanctuary Housing and other providers to deliver mental health housing-related support in Thanet.

“Following a recent commissioning process, Sanctuary made the decision to focus their support on different priorities and needs affecting Thanet. They will be using their mental health housing scheme for this purpose.

“Our priority in working with Sanctuary, who is the landlord as well as providing support, is to ensure that people currently living there continue to get the help they need. To do this, Porchlight has provided additional funding to Sanctuary to ensure that people move onto similar services in the area.”

Kent County Council say Nelson Crescent will become part of the new Young Person’s Supported Accommodation and Floating Support Service managed by Sanctuary. The service is to be focused on supporting children in care, care leavers up to the age of 25 and homeless 16/17-year olds.

A spokesman added: “The new service will enable young people to gain and maintain independence skills, to be facilitated into education, employment or training and to gain the knowledge and skills to make informed choices about their accommodation options once they are ready to move on from the service.”