Rachael Hines, 48, and her family are sharing their story during Mental Health Awareness Week, which runs from 8 to 14 May, to illustrate how their daughter is now ‘thriving’, compared to simply ‘surviving’, following assistance from Sanctuary Supported Living (SSL).
Rachael, who has a learning disability and limited mobility in one hand, arrived at SSL’s Anglesea Road supported housing service in 2012 with little understanding of how to live by herself.
She had previously been a carer to her ex-husband and had to move to independent accommodation when the situation became untenable, leaving her living alone for the first time in her life.
In need of assistance, Rachael was referred by Suffolk County Council social services to a disability-friendly adapted flat at the service.
Once settled, she was able to draw up a personalised support plan with staff listing areas where she might need help – in her case, with budgeting and managing benefits. She has also received support in developing positive relationship awareness.
When the time came to move on to independent accommodation, Rachael was given support on how to maintain a tenancy and she continues to receive regular floating support from SSL to ensure she thrives in her new home.
As a result, she has now maintained her own independent accommodation for two years, is studying ICT Functional Skills at Realise Futures, a local further education provider, and is volunteering at a local charity shop.
Rachael has also kept in touch with two of her Anglesea Road neighbours, who have moved on to homes of their own, and the three have become good friends.
She said: “Working with staff, especially my key worker, helped me to trust again and realise that there are people out there with your best interests at heart.
“It is reassuring to know that if I have any issues or problems, I can always call staff – it just makes life a little easier knowing there are people out there who have your back.”
Candace Hockley, SSL key worker, added: “Managing money, making new friends, keeping a tenancy and understanding the benefits system were everyday skills that Rachael had no experience of and it was causing her a lot of distress.
“It was a real blow to her self-esteem to not be able to manage these day-to-day matters and that can have major repercussions on a person’s mental health.
“Thankfully, we’ve been able to work with Rachael to help her build these skills; she’s shown real commitment to achieving her goals and there’s been a fantastic transformation as a result.”
The transformation has not gone unnoticed – Rachael’s parents, Andrew and Chris Shepherd, who visit her several times a month, have spotted her renewed confidence.
Mother Chris said: “Rachael living at Anglesea Road is like having our daughter back again – it’s something for which we’ll be forever grateful.”
Mental Health Awareness Week takes place from Monday 8 to Sunday 14 May. This year’s theme is ‘Surviving or Thriving?’, which aims to explore how people can help themselves to, or be supported to, thrive through good mental health.
For more information on Mental Health Awareness Week, visit: www.mentalhealth.org.uk