Maxine Davies was one of the first clients to take part in the scheme. She tells us how her new digital skills are benefiting her and what she hopes to achieve with them in the future.
When I moved back to Swansea and most of my friends had moved on, I started feeling lonely and unhappy. I didn’t leave the house for months. And the more I stayed put, the more afraid I became…
I heard about Connect from a neighbour. He told me I should try to come along, so I asked my GP to refer me.
The first few times I went, I sat alone and didn’t move or talk all day. People sensed I didn’t want to be bothered and let me be. After a few visits, I started feeling more comfortable. and people started asking me to come and join in.
As I made friends and my confidence grew, I decided to try the art and pottery classes and oved them! I hadn’t done anything like that since school and it felt amazing when my stuff was exhibited at Swansea Museum.
I’ve been coming to Connect almost every day now for the past six years and managed to get lots of new qualifications in maths and food hygiene etc.
The difference here is that the teachers are patient and treat you like an equal. I don’t feel afraid asking questions like I used to at school.
I used to do Connect’s ‘shop and drop’ scheme where we went to the shops in a group so we didn’t have to go alone. We’d have a coffee and a chat while we were out and it was really nice. Even something as simple as shopping can be really difficult when you’re not confident enough to go out alone.
I’ve really enjoyed giving back to Connect too. I see people here who are like I was when I started. I love getting them involved. I did a mentoring course so we could support one another. And we started a helper’s group so we can help each other and the project.
I went on holiday last year for the first time in years. I didn’t think I would go on another holiday in my life before. Now my friend and I are saving up so we can go abroad for my 60th birthday!
I love it here. I feel safe - to me this is my home. The staff are lovely, every single one of them. They all care, I mean really care.
Connect has given me my confidence back. I still get my low days, but I now feel like nothing’s impossible. If it wasn’t for Connect I wouldn’t be here now, it’s been a lifesaver. It’s been like a stepping-stone to getting my life back. It gives me a reason to get up and get out.
When Lisa (19) was referred to our floating support scheme by her local authority, her rent was already well in arrears…
Our support worker helped her to identify the reasons behind this and worked with her to help turn things around.
After the death of her father four years ago, Lisa spent a great deal of time caring for her sick mother. With a 15-month old daughter and another child on the way, this made huge demands on her emotionally and physically.
The stress of this added to her mother’s death brought on bouts of depression and anxiety. As Lisa’s rent and debts started to escalate and the relationship with her partner became violent, she turned to drugs to help her cope.
Our support worker quickly arranged for rent arrears to be cleared so Lisa’s home was secure. She then helped with plans for debt repayment and budgeting.
Lisa was referred to counselling to deal with her bereavement and other emotional issues. She was also given support to access substance misuse services, which she could attend once her support worker had found her affordable child-care.
“I feel like there’s finally a light at the end of the tunnel. My support worker’s been so kind and helpful – a real rock when I’ve needed her.
I’ve still got a way to go, dealing with the loss of my parents plus getting off the drugs. But just having some time off from looking after the kids gives me a chance to focus on these things.
Sorting out the debts has been a huge weight off my mind. I now want to get on a course to develop my interior design skills. I’ve even been able to use them at home and redecorate the house – it’s a big improvement.”
It was only when Lorraine (20) and her two young children were physically threatened by their neighbours that she realised she had to ask for help…
A vulnerable single parent, Lorraine was already dealing
with mental health problems due to early trauma as well as poor budgeting skills and employment prospects. She also had problems coping with her elder child’s behavioural difficulties. Her Housing Officer saw the problems she was facing and referred her to us.
Our support worker assessed what help Lorraine needed then drew up a support plan to help her cope with the move as well as the other difficulties she faced.
Firstly, Lorraine and her children were moved into temporary accommodation and helped with housing applications. Her finances were reviewed and applications for disability and carer allowance recommended and approved. This meant a weekly increase of £150 to help Lorraine get her debts under control and develop a more realistic budget for the future.
Urgent psychiatric support was brought in for both Lorraine and her eldest son. They also applied for a Family Support Worker to be assigned to provide ongoing help with his care.
“Before, I felt like my life was spiralling out of control. Despite desperately trying to look after the kids, my debts were building up and I just didn’t have the emotional strength to deal with anything. The threats from my neighbours were the last straw. I knew I had to seek help.
My support worker was great – really sympathetic and kind. She helped me where I wouldn’t have a clue what my rights were or what help was available.
I finally feel like my life is back on track. I’m getting help for my depression and am hoping to start a course at my local college in September. Also, I’m coping much better with my eldest and he’s starting to show some improvement.
I’d love to be able to give something back and have got details of some volunteering jobs, which I’d like to do once we’re settled into our new home. And my long-term partner finally popped the question so things finally seem to be falling into place!”