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Tanya Keeling

20th April 2023

Sanctuary Supported Living

Tanya Keeling before and after

Howell Road’s Deputy Local Service Manager, Tanya, thanks the homelessness service for helping her turn her life around as she helps others on their road to recovery.

In 2010, Tanya Keeling was living with her husband and their little boy in a beautiful country house when her world fell apart. After struggling with her addiction for many years, it spiralled out of control for the last time and her marriage collapsed. Forced to live rough and either sleeping in her car or surfing sofas, Tanya’s tumultuous relationship with drugs continued.

It was at the hospital that Tanya met staff from Sanctuary Supported Living’s Howell Road, which provides support for people who are homeless, and the first time that she had talked about the power of addiction. Working through her feelings of guilt and shame, Tanya came to terms with the fact that she wasn’t a bad person – she was gripped by addiction issues and in need of help. But the road ahead was long, and she spent periods of the next few years getting clean before relapsing and starting again.

In 2013, Tanya had one fateful relapse that cost her the accommodation she’d been living in with Sanctuary Supported Living. She said: “My dependency issues had progressed, my mental health was shattered, and I ended up sectioned and back in hospital. I was six stone, I had nowhere to live, and I couldn’t see my son. I had nothing to live for.

“A couple of people I had known from a recovery group stopped by the hospital to see me and spoke to the Local Service Manager at Howell Road. By some miracle, I was given another chance, and in a moment of clarity, I promised myself that this was it – this time, I was going to get clean for good.

“Once I was discharged, I met with my Project Worker regularly to set small, daily intentions and tracked my development using the Outcomes Star model. I attended support sessions and learnt to budget and manage a tenancy properly. I got involved in resident activities and in any other time I had, I kept myself busy with cleaning! Once I was achieving my smaller objectives, I started looking ahead and setting longer term goals like being debt free. And I didn’t just get debt free, I started mentoring others who were struggling too. The day I moved on from Howell Road and into my own flat, the manager said to me, “When are you coming back to do support work?” and when I landed a job as a Project Worker three years later, the next chapter of my life began.

 “Supported housing steps in and speaks up for those who are unable to speak up for themselves.”

Tanya Keeling, Deputy Local Service Manager

“I started in the complex accommodation support team, working closely with homeless people who were in the same position that I’d been in. Throughout my career, my proudest moments have been when I’ve told a customer, “me too, you’re not on your own,” and I’ve seen a glimmer of hope return to their eye. And sometimes there are bad days when I’m reminded of the painful reality of substance abuse and addiction, knowing first-hand that it’s too powerful to be fought alone. But that’s why supported housing is so important. Supported housing steps in and speaks up for those who are unable to speak up for themselves. Supported housing breaks down barriers, instils belief, and shows empathy, care, and compassion along the way. It teaches, and heals, and points people in the right direction. 

“Since my first job with Sanctuary Supported Living, I’ve been dedicated to career progression and I’m over the moon to have been recently promoted to Deputy Local Service Manager so I can continue to help people to be their best on their road to recovery whilst mentoring others to do the same. And all this time, I’ve been rebuilding relationships with my family. It wasn’t easy, but little by little, I’ve regained their trust, and in 2020, I moved back in with my husband and son.

“The bottom line is that supported housing absolutely saved my life. It gave me back a life I never knew existed. For that, I am forever grateful.”

For more information about Sanctuary Supported Living’s homelessness services, see our homelessness page, read residents’ stories or find a service near you.

To find out more about a rewarding career with Sanctuary Supported Living, read our staff stories, or view our current vacancies.