A settled future

Headshot of Ryan Parker in his home


This morning, I wake to a settled silence. Save for the intermittent rumblings of a nearby building site, all is still. I roll over for half an hour – no work today – before pottering up to the kitchen for breakfast and an hour of bleary-eyed TV and aimless peaceful gazing out of my patio doors, watching red kites drift on the breeze.

I drag myself into the shower, speaker blaring loud enough to energise, but also to bury any tone-deaf attempts at singing along. Before long, I’m dressed and lounging on my L-plan sofa, notebook on lap, working on a Freelance Journalism course - paid for in the most part by my housing association.

My music floats, soft and airy while I work, a bag of sweet chilli crisps and a pot of sour cream and chive dip on the table to stave off any peckish thoughts that could distract me from the task ahead – settling in to my coursework.

A couple of focused hours go by before I need a break, I put my notebook down and get up to open my doors and let the fresh air invigorate me. I watch the diggers trundle around for a while, the bricklayers methodically placing piece after piece of a domesticated puzzle together - and I think that once they’re done, I’ll know how to build a house from start to finish myself.

I come back inside and head straight for the fridge, to fix myself some lunch, before settling back to my books. The bright blues of day are soon melting into evening crimsons and work has been replaced by a book and smells of caramelizing roast vegetables, the setting sun aligning perfectly outside my patio doors, painting my living room walls with a warm, cosy glow. After eating, I settle in the corner of my sofa, feet up, dozing to terrible TV, until it’s time to sleep, knowing another day like this awaits tomorrow.

Just seven months ago, before I entered into my first single occupancy contract with Sovereign Housing Association, a day like this would have been impossible. Living in overcrowded conditions with my mother and four siblings, rarely was there a time when my own thoughts could be heard, let alone anything productive accomplished. This social housing of mine has provided me with the space and the opportunity to work and grow towards a settled future, something that always seemed impossibly far away before.

I’m one of the lucky ones. Coronavirus - and the economic pressures that accompany it - have pushed many families and individuals closer and closer to the bread line, demonstrating the need for more investment in social housing to provide those that need it with a safety raft to keep their heads above water.

I’ve been fortunate enough to find a place to live where those that manage it not only keep a roof over my head during challenging times, but also invest in my growth and future prospects. Shouldn’t that be the norm?