31/08/16

Aaron is supported by the Housing First Anglesey project.

Housing First Anglesey provides residential support to homeless people with complex needs. It is currently the only project of its type in Wales.

Housing First differs from the traditional method of housing homeless people as it takes people with complex needs and places them straight into their own rented accommodation. A 24-hour intensive support package is provided to ensure that all the individual’s needs are met and they can then begin to address the underlying issues that caused their homelessness.

This is Aaron’s story.

“I’ve lived with Bipolar disorder since the age of 13 and have been living a pattern of depressive lows and manic highs for the past 21 years. I had a successful career working offshore as a heating and plumbing technician.

I suffered three significant mental health crises in the run up to 2011. While recovering from the third I was prescribed lithium which damaged my kidneys and led to me developing diabetes. As I was coming off lithium for the sake of my physical health my father suffered a stroke after which I lived with him in hospital for four months. Up until this point I had been self-sufficient but my father’s illness led to me developing PTSD and depression.  I became suicidal, culminating in an incident at work which led to my sectioning and committal to psychiatric hospital in Bangor. While in hospital, I was forced to declare bankruptcy.

As a condition of discharge from hospital in September 2015, I had to have a permanent address. My mother agreed to let me move in with her on the condition that I could not be in the house on my own. I received 4 nurse visits per day. This went on for several months. As the support was withdrawn my mother felt unable to support me and this led to her asking me to leave. I became homeless. My friend took me in but I relapsed. This led to alcohol misuse. To access support for this, I was signposted to CAIS and SMS.

I was referred to HF Anglesey by Advocacy and met Jodie my support worker. I was completely non-functional when I first started receiving support from HF Anglesey, requiring support with all aspects of my life including being physically taken to meetings with the council and navigating the benefits system. I was not being able to do anything alone at this point. It sapped my energy just to speak to support workers. At this point I was self-harming and suffering extremely debilitating panic attacks that sometimes led to me becoming unconscious.

While being supported to find accommodation, I suffered a mental health crisis in my mother’s house in which the Police had to attend as I was holding a knife to myself. I was stabilised and released after three days in hospital. Jodie and I agreed that being in shared accommodation was the best option for me as this would give him the stability I needed to recover.

Jodie supported me to claim all the necessary funds (homelessness prevention fund, ESA, PIP, HB etc.) I needed to start a tenancy and in April 2016 I was housed in a room in a privately rented 9 bed shared house. I’m happy living in shared accommodation despite there being some initial friction when moving in regarding my OCD diagnosis and cleaning.

I’m still supported by the 24-hour service of HF Anglesey and knowing that there is always someone on the end of the phone is a massive help to my recovery. I’m now accessing another Wallich project, Pathfinder, alongside HF Anglesey for employment related support. With the help of Helen from Pathfinder, I’ve rewritten my CV and am undertaking a food safety qualification.

From my past career working offshore, I have few qualifications that are valid for use on land. I currently have a job but am not currently fit to return to it.I’m continuing to volunteer with Pathfinder and am looking forward to continuing my training including undertaking a first aid course. From this I’ve built a connection with the Red Cross in Abergele to pursue my first aid training. My goal is to become a paramedic.

I plan to keep going along the road I have set for myself and to keep stable.

 

My time being supported by The Wallich is the fastest recovery I have ever had. Although I’m still supported by HF Anglesey and Pathfinder it feels as though I have a road to follow to recovery, which I never had before.”