Thomas Harvey-Beswick has worked as a mental health service accommodation director for over 25 years. At the age of 16, he obtained employment in Coventry as a Residential Care Worker with those suffering from mental health or physical disabilities. In order to broaden his social work experience and enhance his professional development, he moved to Wolverhampton in 1985 and gained work with Manpower Services in a Community Care Team. However, at this time, the Care in the Community Policy was at the height of its impact in releasing those with mental health who had been in long term institutional care back into the community. As a result of these policies, these people were having difficulties with their isolation, bewilderment, and stark reality of their everyday lives in an alien environment. He became frustrated at the confines of his role and the restrictions placed upon him in assisting their plight.
Therefore, at the very young age of 21, Thomas decided to actively seek and create a safe and stable environment within the community for them to live in. In 1983 and still only 21, Thomas was the first person to set up a hostel for people with mental health and alcohol and mood-altering substance dependency. He broke new ground with the local authority by investing his own savings into opening a hostel. Despite warnings from financial advisors of the risk he was undertaking, Thomas proceeded to make his dream reality. In October 1990, his dream became a haven where everybody regardless of mental or physical disability would be treated fairly and accepted. Since its opening, the service has taken in some of the most difficult to place clients in the community such as offenders on parole, schedule one offenders and some of the more acute cases of mental health and substance addiction.
Nestled within a diverse community of inner city dwellers, the service has been successful in creating a stable environment in which people can live and a community that trusts the safety and confines of his hostel. Since its advent, Thomas completed “Community Safety” work long before it was acknowledged and has statistically found a more successful method of preventing criminals from re-offending and becoming a danger to the community.
Since 1990, the service has grown in status, and what originally began as an 8-bedded project has now increased in size to offer semi-independent living in five houses near the original hostel for 70 residents.