This blog follows on in our series entitled “it’s all about” where we will explore some moving and incredible stories of people who have moved closer to their vision of a good life and started making their contribution in their community.
All the stories are real, names and some details have been changed to ensure anonymity.
It’s all about…taking back control
There will be times in all of our lives where we feel things are out of control and we are lacking the strength to deal with the complexity of our circumstances. It is at these points where we often turn to the friends and family members around us for help. With their comfort, encouragement and practical help alongside us we can usually start to tackle the underlying causes of our problems, take back control and move towards the life we want to live. In the absence of this natural support though, we may need external help to move on. Those initial listening ears are often abundant in our communities, it is just knowing where to find them at a time when we feel we have no energy to focus on new relationships. Thankfully there are incredible people like the Samaritans who we can pick up the phone and chat with at any time (tel: 116 123)
Local Area Coordinators are acutely aware of this challenge and make enormous effort to ensure their offer is extended to community members who are looking to take back control. They work in a way that is entirely person-centred with literally no other agenda other than helping people get to where they want to be. Achieving this means building relationships of trust focussed on practical action and building on strengths as opposed to time-restricted “contact” focussed on assessing deficits and signposting elsewhere.
The following story about “Cassie” highlights this in action:
Cassie contacted her Local Area Coordinator Sarah after seeing one of her postcards in the area. They met the following week and started to talk about what was important to Cassie and what she wanted to achieve out of her life. Cassie explained that her mum had passed away when she was a young child and her father struggles with addiction. She grew up in a different city, and had to move due to being abused by a family member. She was homeless when she moved to her new community a few years ago and had worked hard to maintain her tenancy once she secured it. Cassie had been volunteering locally and also in the city centre, but she felt that she had not been managing her mental health particularly well. Sarah and Cassie worked together to think about her options to address what she felt the pressing issues were. She decided that she would like to try counselling therapy and, with a little bit of guidance from Sarah, quickly started with therapy. She found that the therapy really helped her to manage her day to day feelings and to keep her on track with moving forward. As they got to know each other, Cassie confided in Sarah about her relationship with her partner which was both violent and abusive. She felt she could not get out. Sarah listened and together they agreed to complete a safeguarding referral which led to providing the Police with a statement. Doing this enabled Cassie to access support from the Domestic Violence team. She was eventually able to leave her partner, which she told Sarah was as a result of the support she was receiving. After doing this Cassie felt she would like to move back home to where her support network was in order to remain safe, be supported and to move forward with her life.
Sarah helped Cassie to apply to be rehoused to an area where she had a network of family and friends. By supporting Cassie to gather evidence of the recent circumstances of her relationship and the risk she faced, she was accepted by another Local Authority and started bidding on suitable properties. Recently, Cassie went to view a property which she really had her heart set on, and was accepted. She will be moving to her new home soon and is absolutely over the moon as it is down the road from her grandmother who she is close with and visits often. Cassie told Sarah she wants to settle down there and make it her forever home.
Cassie also met a lady from a nearby street whilst she was at an event organised by Sarah. Sarah suggested they share a taxi home due to the lady being visually impaired. Cassie helped her home and has continued to check in on her since, she’s also been to the shop for her a couple of times. Cassie explains that although she didn’t feel like she could continue to formally volunteer in a support role, she really enjoys helping this neighbour out and her help has been gratefully received.
Cassie is now focussed on moving and looking at her options for going to University as she thinks she would like to pursue a career in social care. She has the self-belief that this is achievable as she has accomplished so much in recent months. Cassie told Sarah she now realises how strong she is.