Andy’s Story

Kate, a worker for our Portsmouth Circle of Support service, met Andy at a drop in she was running at the Lighthouse, a soup kitchen for people who are in financial hardship.

Andy been struggling with mental ill health since childhood, his self confidence was very low. He would walk with his head down, had no mental health support worker and felt he had no network of support to turn to.

He had a history of substance misuse, but had been clean for the past 6 months. During his meeting with Kate he said he did not want to relapse, he wanted to get out of debt, learn to budget effectively and ultimately be confident enough to look for volunteering opportunities. He was due a medical assessment with regards to his benefits and would like support in attending this. Andy’s low confidence meant he struggled speaking with people, especially those in authority. He agreed to be supported by Circle of Support, hoping to build on his confidence and begin afresh.

Over the next few months Andy received support with managing his debts. All his companies were contacted to request his accounts be put on hold while a financial statement could be completed, which they agreed to. This allowed him time to organise his finances and begin some work on budgeting.

Andy’s GP arranged for him to be referred to Talking Change for support sessions for his mental health. Andy was anxious about this, due to his fear of having to talk about his past. He did not feel comfortable talking to a stranger, but was assured that he would be getting the right support from someone specially trained in Mental Health issues. To ease him in, Andy’s support worker attended the first appointment with him, waiting in the waiting area. The mental health worker put Andy at ease, helping him realise she was there to help him. He felt so reassured by her that he was happy to attend all other appointments on his own. He successfully completed a 12 week therapy session which enabled him to put coping mechanisms in place to aid in his recovery.

Initially Andy had wanted support in attending his medical assessment for his benefit claim, but after a few support sessions felt strong enough to attend alone. The assessment was failed meaning he needed to sign on to JSA which he did completely independently. He was supported to attend the first meeting with his coach, with every other session after attended without support. There was a pause in money being received, during which Andy contacted all utility companies etc to explain the situation with them agreeing to put accounts on hold for a month.

After a few months the change in Andy’s confidence levels was amazing. He went out and bought a suit with money he’d saved to wear to meetings, holding his head high and feeling like he was worth the investment. Andy had been involved in a long-term dispute with one of his neighbours who had been repeatedly asking Andy to buy him alcohol. As a recovering alcoholic this was very difficult for Andy, his low confidence levels meaning he found it hard to say no. Since beginning his support with Circle of Support Andy’s confidence has soared meaning he felt able to, alongside his support worker, meet with his neighbour to resolve this issue. He has started attending church again, and through that met a woman who is disabled and no longer able to maintain her garden. He offered to do her garden for her, she asked what she could do in exchange and as he has no washing machine she offered to do his washing. Andy has great plans for the flowers and borders.

Andy now has not one but five suits. His confidence levels are at an all time high. He is receiving the support he needs for his mental health and feels in a better position to deal with his debt and benefit. In his personal life he has rekindled a relationship with a woman he met a year ago – and they’re getting married.

*name has been changed

Ofsted Praise for You First Hampshire

A recent report from Ofsted has highlighted You First Hampshire’s  Family Intervention Team project as being excellent practice, with praise for the Domestic Abuse and Violence workers being particularly effective and engaged.

The Joint Targeted Area inspection looked at all domestic abuse services within the area of Hampshire, focussing on children living with domestic violence. An article following the report  in ‘Children and Young People Now’ cites:

“”Inspectors were particularly impressed that senior managers were able to co-ordinate an effective response to domestic violence across the county’s large geographic area, stating that “it is evident that leaders in all organisations are committed to the partnership and that they appropriately prioritise the protection of these children”.
The placing of specialist domestic abuse workers in the county’s family intervention team, which targets vulnerable families, was also noted by inspectors as being “an impressive and creative service that generated its own evidence of effectiveness and impact”. ”

Excellent partnership working between the  statutory and voluntary sectors is absolutely crucial to ensure vulnerable adults and children receive the support they need. We’re so proud to be involved in the delivery of such important and outstanding work.

For the full article and links to the letter to Hampshire County Council’s director of children’s services, click here.

May Place House

CM became involved with May Place House, our Basingstoke service after he heard of the work we do through a friend. The service users at May Place House are a sporty bunch, and when CM heard they’d recently started a football them he was keen to get involved and help out.

“I had always played football as a youngster to county standard and always believed in the benefits of encouraging people who may be disadvantaged to join in with sports generally, especially team sports. I thought and hoped that this would enable the service users to get out on a regular basis, forge and develop friendships and a sense of camaraderie, and to help them with their general fitness and wellbeing.”

Since coming on board back in October last year, the team has developed not only in the numbers of participants growing (we now have between 10 and 12 players every week) but also the quality of the football being played.

“It has been very rewarding to watch the guys develop, improve their fitness and more importantly, have fun and develop friendships.”

CM has been working as a support worker at the service since January and is thoroughly enjoying it. The football team is currently 5-a-side but he plans to recruit more players to form an 11 side team.

He found volunteering a greatly rewarding experience and says:

“I would recommend voluntary work to anyone who has the time or inclination as I have found it very rewarding and you never know where it might lead.”

Advice Portsmouth

Ms J initially attended Advice Portsmouth about her non-priority creditors.

Due to the client’s poor physical and mental health and her problems with alcohol misuse, Ms J could not face opening and dealing with her post. Ms J is currently attending a detox programme and has done so since the beginning of December 2014.

Ms J was unaware that her housing benefit claim had the highest rate for non dependent deduction applied to it. This should not have been the case and due to this error Ms J was accruing rent arrears. After a suggestion made by her housing officer Ms J approached Advice Portsmouth for advice and assistance. An advisor contacted Housing Benefit to ensure they held the correct information and to request a review.

The advisor also assisted the client in making a claim for Personal Independence Payment and negotiated with Ms J’s Portsmouth City Council Housing Officer to pay a small amount off the arrears whilst we worked with her on her financial statement. Ms J is empowered and now deals with her post alone and maintains a weekly payment plan for her priority creditors. Ms J’s  priority arrears have reduced and she is now receiving monthly contributions from her non dependant children.

As a result of the support we provided to Ms J, her Housing Benefit was reinstated and her review request was successful. Ms J is likely to receive a significant amount and we requested this be paid directly to her to support her with buying food and other necessities, as she still has to rely on family for financial support. Receiving the monies will also help her to pay some of her priority debts.

We continue to support Ms J as her situation improves and she becomes increasingly independent and able to deal with her own affairs.

Advice Portsmouth

Mr C has been an Advice Portsmouth client since we opened in April 2012. He initially approached us for help reading his letters.

Mr C was in receipt of Income Support for many years and migrated over to ESA. After he received his ATOS assessment he was found fit for work and is now in receipt of Job Seekers Allowance.

Mr C cannot read or write and was finding job seeking extremely difficult. We now assist him with his job search and attend appointments with him in order to keep his benefit in payment. We have had to find innovative ways to assist Mr C due to his lack of reading and writing, for example, we have created a ‘picture diary’ for him so we can stick in photographs of places his recognises to aid in remembering to attend appointments. We have also helped Mr C to make applications to local colleges to try and improve his reading and writing ability. In addition to this we encouraged him to apply for Personal Independence Payment and attended his PIP assessment with him.

As a result Mr C was awarded both the enhanced rate for daily living and mobility.