A scheme that supports people to live independently in Stoke-on-Trent has been nominated for a national homelessness project award.

Victoria Place, an accommodation project managed by Arch, has been shortlisted for homelessness project of the year by the UK Housing Awards.

The 22 bed accommodation and support service in Stoke helps people aged 16 – 65 tackle any underlying issues that are keeping them from finding and staying in a safe, secure home of their own.

Mark was a Victoria Place customer. He came to Arch after his life spiralled out of control when his father died and ended up rough sleeping and living at a homeless shelter: “I started to abuse alcohol, I lost my job, my marriage and my children. Then my wife took her own life.

“I wouldn’t wash, shave or dress. I wouldn’t eat. There were times when I first moved to Victoria Place that I would sit alone in my flat for days, in complete silence, only leaving to buy more alcohol.

“As time went on, I felt safe. I could trust the team, and never felt judged in any way. They referred me to mental health support and counselling, helped me register with a local GP so I could access my medication and alcohol services to address my alcoholism.

“I applied for volunteering work and completed numerous Live and Learn courses. I loved living there. Today I am living independently in my own rented property. I have stopped drinking and am back in touch with my family.

“I can honestly say that Victoria Place and Arch have saved my life, more than once, and for that I am truly grateful.”

Sarah Forshaw, Homelessness, Housing & Complex Needs Operations Manager at Arch aid: “Victoria Place was set up in response to the increased homelessness problem in the area, the clear need for non-hostel based accommodation and more customers coming to us severe complex needs.

“We stick with people no matter what they’ve been through, we put our heart into it to create a better future for people and we give them a voice because they matter above all else.

“We’re committed to making homelessness history through projects like this. Being nominated for this award recognises this and the enormous difference we make to people’s lives.”

Arch are up against seven other providers from across the UK and the awards take place on 1 May in London.