10 October is World Mental Health Day, with a focus on suicide prevention. After 20 years of severe depression triggered by a divorce and then homelessness, Greenfields resident Andy was hospitalised in June after no longer being able to wash and feed himself. Three months later and thanks to Kelly Lloyd, his “lifeline” Greenfields Support Co-ordinator, Andy is “back on track” and feeling “a lot better”:
“Since my divorce I’ve had depression on and off, which led to me being unable to work and struggling to find somewhere permanent to live. I ended up living in homeless shelters across North Essex and was staying at one a few years ago when it was destroyed by a fire. I lost everything, including my dog, my photos and my paperwork.
I was then in a hotel for two weeks before moving into temporary housing. At this point I was so low that I locked myself away and let myself go. The depression gets to you and you don’t bother. I had lost my support network and no longer had a phone.
Because I was a shut-in I couldn’t get to the doctors, which led to my benefit payments being stopped. I was evicted in mid-2016 as my rent wasn’t paid, and I went to a night shelter in another town. I got in a hell of a state; I could hardly walk, I was losing weight and I had sores on my feet.
In early 2017 I ended up going to a Salvation Army Centre, as I was swapped for a more troublesome tenant. At first, I didn’t interact with anyone, but a volunteer there encouraged me to have cups of tea with her and go for group meals with other residents. She then helped me to apply to live at a Greenfields older persons’ scheme and to move in September of last year.
Unfortunately, I no longer had any support and I went downhill. Neighbours were trying to talk to me but I locked myself away again. I had lost contact with all my family and friends and I was living in my front room. My TV had stopped working and I was no longer cleaning my flat or myself.
Earlier this year, Kelly became aware of my situation during a routine visit. She arranged for me to go to the doctors and helped me to go through my post, but I soon slipped back into not moving, eating properly or washing. She called the GP and the Police and paramedics had to cut me from my sofa and take me to hospital.
I was near enough dead in the hospital; bleeding internally. I didn’t want to be here anymore.
I came out of hospital two weeks later. Whilst I was in there, Kelly had arranged for my flat to be deep cleaned and the furniture replaced. She also liaised with the hospital support worker to arrange a two-week care plan for my return home, before arranging funding for carers to visit me three times per day after that, to prompt me to eat, take medication and clean myself, as well as doing my shopping and cleaning.
She arranged for a key safe to be fitted so the carers could access my flat, and she referred me to Greenfields’ Tenancy Sustainment Team to get my benefit payments reinstated. She also supported me to create new direct debits, pay old balances and set up new bills.
It was tough at the beginning, I had to accept I needed help, which took a long while. Kelly hasn’t put me under pressure, just prompted me to think about things. She was a lifeline; a lovely woman. She got me back on track.
I didn’t want to slip back so I go out all the time and walk my dog (who was given to me last month). I have also reunited with my son and my granddaughter, who come round all the time, and I sit and chat with other residents, too. I’ve also got back in touch with old school friends and am looking at joining a local band.
Kelly was the only one who used to come round here – I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for her. You’ve got to accept help offered, take your medication and slowly get things done; concentrating on what’s important.”
Find out more about #WorldMentalHealthDay by clicking on this link: www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/world-mental-health-day
Find out about our Tenancy Sustainment Team and the support they can offer by clicking on this link: Tenancy sustainment team
Apply for additional support to manage your home or finances by clicking on this link: Housing related support