Derry City & Strabane - Mayor's Charity




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Mayor's Charity

The Mayor’s chosen charity for her term in office is First Housing Aid and Support Services, a voluntary sector non profile making organisation in operation since 1989 which provides professional advice on housing and solutions to people who find themselves in housing difficulties. For more information visit - Home | First Housing (
Further details on how to donate to the charity will be provided in the coming days
Service User Feedback
My support worker has helped me feel safer and more secure
I would like to highly recommend the services of First Housing they helped me out with so much in my new home.
I couldn’t have done this without my support worker, it was herself who done all this for me
It’s been you that has been keeping my head above water
I have got a new house, got it nearly set up and am a single dad with my two kids which is great for them and great for me
I could not fault the service – the courtesy and support I’ve been given was very much appreciated. The staff at First Housing are very professional and a great asset
Thank you for all the help you have given me - I find the staff in First Housing are well above their job. They lift my mind off what I am going through each day.  The job they do has more personal meaning
Thank you for the help you have given me the day I am just worn out by it all that I can not do it on my own anymore that’s why am glad of the help as it is badly needed I can not fight this any longer on my own
Case Study 1
K was referred to First Housing by the NIHE.  He had just been awarded custody of his two children and needed housing immediately.  His support worker in First Housing assisted him to secure a private rental tenancy and as it was unfurnished, they applied for a discretionary support grant and other smaller grants to get oil, electricity and food.  Ongoing support included getting his benefits maximised, applying for a discretionary housing payment, food donations, Christmas appeals, emotional support and help with home security.  Once the practical aspects of his tenancy were addressed L was left with the enormity of being a single parent to two very emotionally damaged children.  His support worker felt counselling would help him progress to the next stage of his tenancy.  Although he was initially reluctant he did agree.  Mentally he was struggling with poor motivation, anxiety and depression, physically he had various health problems prohibiting him from working and practically he was isolated having no-one with whom to discuss managing his tenancy, how he could help his children recover from a particularly traumatic time when in the care of their mother, his guilt at not knowing what his children were going through and his feelings of failure in the eyes of social services.  He was taking anti depressants but did not feel they were controlling his depression and anxiety.  As the counselling progressed so did his self confidence and ability to parent.   As his emotional stress was being addressed he was able to focus on the practical aspects of his tenancy creating a safe and secure space for his children and himself. He said of his support from First Housing “I am very appreciative of the support I received as I have never admitted to myself or others I was struggling.  I always helped others but now I realise I needed that help too”. 
Case Study 2
P is a 49 years old woman whose marriage ended a few months before her referral to First Housing.  She required help to move to a more affordable tenancy as she was struggling to pay the rent since her marriage ended.  She also wanted to move from the area as she was isolated and she felt the area held too many unhappy memories due to bereavement and other familial distress.  She has two children, one with special needs.  She also suffers from fibromyalgia and poor mental health. Her support worker helped her to update her NIHE housing application, liaise with Housing Associations and carry out PRS property searches.  She was also supported to address the debt and the financial burden caused by the ending of her marriage.  Several grants were applied for to enable her to heat her home and support her children returning to school, she received food donations and was referred to an employment training programme as she said she would like to begin a career. Her support worker suggested counselling to which she agreed.  She required long term counselling as her presenting issues were more complex than first noted and she was dealing significant trauma from adverse childhood experiences. However allowing her the space and opportunity to open about her life has enabled her to turn it around.   When she was offered a Housing Association tenancy she declares herself tenancy ready and eager to make a fresh start.  As this property was more affordable than the one she had shared with her husband she was better placed to manage her household budget.  She states that without “help from First Housing I would still be struggling emotionally and financially in my tenancy – feeling and isolated unable to cope.  But I honestly got through one of the toughest periods of my life with your help.  I am so grateful.  Thank you so much”.
Case Study 3
R is a 61 year old man who suffers from poor mental and physical health.  When his marriage abruptly ended he had to leave the family home and having nowhere to go found himself sofa surfing for several months.  A referral was made to First Housing and he was allocated a support worker who assisted him with an application to NIHE, property searches and to apply for benefits.  When he was offered an NIHE tenancy his support worker applied for grants to help him furnish and heat his home.  He was overwhelmed at having to live independently and alone for the first time in his life - he married late in life and moved from his parents home to his marital home.  With support from First Housing he settled into his new home.  He began to thrive in his new tenancy getting a dog and signing up for volunteering opportunities.  He told his support worker “it’s a sad state of affairs when I have to rely on a total stranger for help at my age.  I never in a million years thought I’d be in this situation.  I can’t thank you enough.  I’m really overwhelmed with all the help you’ve been to me over all that has gone on.  If I hadn’t got the help I did I would have chosen the only other option I could see – suicide”