“I was in a real mess.”
Alice, 51, recalls how her life was when she was first referred to Together For Mental Wellbeing in December 2014. Her mental health issues were causing her real problems and she was rarely leaving the house or seeing people. “I’d recently gotten divorced, was involved in a court case, and ended up homeless.”
Alice was referred to Together for support with her mental health needs and soon had an appraisal with a Support Worker, which was “the best thing ever. We instantly had a great connection – she really gets me.”
Together worked closely with Alice to identify what were the things in her life that she wanted help to achieve. Alice’s Support Worker helped her to sort out practical things like her housing, managing her debt and running errands.
“My Support Worker came food shopping with me – I ended up have a panic attack,” says Alice. “She really took the time to sit down with me and help me work through it at my own pace. She never pushes me too hard.”
Alice remembers how her Support Worker rang her every single day during a particularly tough time, and how she often comes round to help Alice work on her arts and crafts. “Together is such a supportive organisation – and the people are real with you.”
After a long period of time when her mental health challenges meant that she was rarely socialising, Alice has gone on to make some great new friends through Together. “We meet up regularly, talk on the phone, organise activities for ourselves – last summer we had a picnic on the beach together.” She knows the value of connecting with people who’ve gone through similar experiences with their mental health. “It’s nice to make friends and to not have to explain everything,” she says.
Alice was also helped to get involved in Change Minds – a partnership between the Norfolk Record Office, Together For Mental Wellbeing and the Restoration Trust – which supports people with mental health needs in Norfolk through a creative archival research project. “It’s been such a good experience – it got me out of the house regularly, for two years,” says Alice.
Alice and her Support Worker recently travelled to London together for a Change Minds event at the Houses of Parliament. “Two years ago, I could never have imagined standing up in front of people and saying a bit about my story – but I did at this event, thanks to the support in building my confidence.”
Soon, Alice will be using her own life experience in a new volunteer position with Together – helping her support worker at meetings with other service users. “I really want to give back,” she says firmly.
Alice acknowledges that her life today is almost unrecognisable from her life three years ago. “I’m looking after my grandchildren and playing with them, seeing my friends, going out shopping… The team at Together have been out of this world in helping me get here,” she says. “And they’re still always there to talk to.”
Alice is passionate about how much Together’s approach has helped her on her journey to recovery. “They treat me like a human being – not like a problem,” she says. “It’s about me as a whole person, not just about my illness.”
“I’d recommend Together’s service to anyone who needs it,” she says. “It’s all about you, and how they can help you – and they go out of their way to do so. They taught me that there can be some kind of solution to every problem.”
If you would like to find out more about Together please visit www.together-uk.org.
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