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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