The Incredible Herts Mind Network
My first Herts Mind Support Worker was assigned to me in January 2018. Three Rivers District Council and my physical health were compounding my Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and triggering depression. Scared that I’d take my own life in order to relive myself of my anguish. I’d found them online and referred myself to the charity for support with my housing.
Every day was a struggle. My head was busy convincing me that I was a sick animal who was only being spared the chop because it amused the gods to see me attempt the daily necessities.
At first, it didn’t register. I was not seeing the difference Naveet was making. It was months before I was able to view time with perspective. I was so lost when she first arrived, I can’t actually recall it.
Naveet had managed to get me out of the house and help me start seeing things to be interested in again. She also helped when they removed my disability benefit by agreeing to come to the appeal court with me and helping with all the forms and communication.
Naveet encouraged me to be more social. Not social in my old way but something new a different social life for my current abilities. I managed to view some suitable homes and finally exchanged to a flat where I could access a full bathroom with a bath rather than just a sink. Naveet supported me and gave me the encouragement to make the move I had desperately needed.
Her popping around to see me once a week, ensured that I did the simple things, at least once a week. I would brush my hair, clean the toilet and the kitchen. Things I wouldn’t have bothered doing just for myself – at that time. I started to order my medication on time and be more organised.
Watching her burst through my front door each week was something to look forward to. Her hair and face were always perfectly made up and she wore clean, nice and modern clothes. It reminded me of what it was to live life well. I would feel embarrassed that my wardrobe now consisting of jogging pants and sweaters.
My move of home was great, the funding was available for her to continue to support me in my new home. It was a relief. I’d moved councils so there had been a risk of having funding pulled because I no longer lived in the area. By a stroke of luck, I’d moved into to property which was also covered by the Herts Mind Link charity.
Things started well in my flat, it being all on one level meant I could access every room.
Unfortunately, then I was then a victim of nasty verbal barrage. Some woman decided that I deserved her hatred. I’d walked around the block. A lady, having previously seen me in my wheelchair, decided I must have cheated the council.
Shouting loudly at me, out in the street. She called me a liar. I tried to tell her I’d downsized, giving up my three-bed home for the two-bed flat but she was determined to give me a piece of her mind. It scared me and I became anxious to leave the flat.
The same week Naveet said she would be leaving Herts Mind Link to continue important aspects of her study at a hospital placement. I would be allocated another support worker. Naveet was exceptionally nice and I knew I’d miss her intelligence and insight. We’d had such great chats when she wished me well, I truly believed it was meant.
It was a terrible time for me again. There had been a mixed up with the Universal Credit system and although nothing other than my address had changed, my benefits had been stopped. I was desperate for assistance and food.
Whilst waiting for a payment to come I had to visit the landlord for a voucher for a food bank. Then my landlord put an Eviction Notice on me. I considered suicide, I considered worse. Thankfully it was a short wait before gaining assistance again and when Herts Mind provided me with another support worker and it couldn’t have been more welcomed.
Annaka bounced into my flat. Immediately she recognised the urgency and looked into my rent account. She calmed me down and understanding the situation communicated with the landlord on my behalf reminding them that I was a protected vulnerable person and they shouldn’t be threatening me with eviction.
Then she sat with me and went through all the calculations. Her outrage on my behalf really helped, she didn’t try and make it out to be my fault or threaten me like the landlord had. Annaka continually told me not to worry and that she would help me.
Her support was friendly, consistent and professional. Although my rent was paid directly from Universal credit to Watford Community Housing Trust the monies had not been allocated to my rent account. It was looking like I was in heavy arrears, but I wasn’t.
I owed £74. The land lord said I owed £1358. Annaka agreed with me. I recall feeling so relived. She called them and told them to stop calling me demanding monies and she organised a meeting between us all so that the rent accounts could be sorted out properly.
My marvellous support worker got to work over the next few weeks, she dealt with the universal credit people, the PIP appeal and then met up with my housing association land lord. Unfortunately, Watford Community Housing Trust wouldn’t remove the eviction order, but they promised to not enforce it if I were to agree a payment plan for £74.
We counted it as a win. The landlord was never going to admit a misallocated the funds.
This helped my feelings of security and help me feel less anxious about people trying to remove me from my home. Before long Annaka informed me that I had been with Herts Mind Link for over a year and the funding for me to be continued being helped was being questioned.
As my mental health treatment still had not started Annaka seem genuinely reserved at discharging me but there was little she could do. As I had a friend staying with me for a while, I insisted I was okay and agreed to the discharge. In my mind it was time for her to help others.
Unfortunately, my friend turned out to be not such a good friend. Suffering with a chronic vomiting syndrome episode I was taken into A&E with chest pains. The Watford General hospital could not locate my patient records and called me psycho before bringing me back home alone the next day. The East of England ambulance just left me here amongst the vomit I’d been removed from 24 hours previously.
I was ill. I looked into the mirror at myself for company. The chest pain was incredible. I imagined wings breaking out from between my ribs, enabling me to fly away from the pain. I told myself that if I could keep my heart calm, I would cope with such a thing. I carried on looking into the mirror until a beautiful woman looked back at me, perhaps a past life or even a fancy costume memory. Whoever she was, her beauty made me feel stronger to cope with the pain. Reminding me of the strong, beautiful women I have known.
The next working day I went to the GP and he sent me straight for a heart scan. My heart is okay, just usual mitral valve prolapse we already knew I had but an ultra sound discovered I have breast cysts and raised lymph nodes under the arms down into the rib cage. I’m sure that is what the pain was rather than me growing wings!
I feel that I would not be able to deal with these things had they happened in the last property. My home actually saves me every day as the view is outstanding and I now write poems and short stories for a blog to help keep me sane. Writing has become my therapy. The flat environment is light and airy and helps me see clearly. I suspect it helps with my vitamin D levels too.
I’m eternally grateful to Herts Mind Link for helping me and listening to me. Understanding what I needed from a home rather than what the council wanted for me. Both Naveet and Annaka were helpful and professional towards me. Annaka could talk the hind legs off a donkey and was a lot of fun and Naveet is classy and smart. Both did their job well and I’d look forward to their visits and valued their advice. Naveet got me to this wonderful flat and Annaka help me keep it. Their role in my mental health wellbeing cannot be underestimated.
Lifelines like Herts Mind Link are so necessary in the UK. I was able to access this service via the internet which was a good idea because I’d asked my GP and Upton Road Adult Mental Health Services for assistance with the housing and neither had been able to help me.
Without Herts Mind Link’s timely help, I would have been either carrying on racking up debt for rent in a house inaccessible to me or evicted from my new one for spurious reasons. The risk I was facing of causing harm to myself was an awful situation because I would not be here for my children and grandchildren. I cannot thank the support workers enough.
I may have a painful life, but I would not trade it in for death to depression.
Good luck with any future funding Herts Mind Link.