“The iPad has changed my life. I knew I needed to step out of my comfort zone or get left behind”

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Lockdown has changed everything. My Support Worker is one of two people who calls me every week. I regard him as part of my personal support network who is critical to my wellbeing.

I have been aware for many years now that exercise, in many forms, is essential for my physical and mental wellbeing.

The lockdown removed all my usual forms of exercise and social contact that I had been taking and enjoying. I was left in a very dangerous, scary and vulnerable place, as many others have been.

However, I had been made aware of yoga and various other classes continuing on Zoom. I immediately thought, “I can’t do that!” – I am 60 and I have so many barriers with technology. But despite my awful tech skills and my extreme fear and aversion to technology, in the current situation I reached the point where I had two options: I either let my physical and mental health deteriorate, or step out of my comfort zone, take whatever help is available and face my fears.

I was very aware of all the positives of joining classes. I thought, “If I don’t try and join something like this there’s nothing for me.” I was able to get the Zoom app on my phone but because I’m partially sighted I knew I wouldn’t be able to follow the classes on there. I had to find a way to do these classes and I found that, with the right support, I could access them.

I receive ongoing support from a Support Worker at Southdown, primarily over issues regarding housing. I can’t praise him enough. He’s a lifeline to me. Whatever I throw at him he will research endlessly and come back with volumes of information. 

I said to him that I was wondering if I should get a laptop or tablet so I can access the online classes. He gave me enough information to make a decision and I came to the conclusion that an iPad would be simpler for me. He was there with ideas on what was available including low cost options and the websites I could buy them from. He supported me all the way through the process. Without his help and research it would have been like me throwing a stone into the sea!

Because I am partially sighted and hearing impaired, I can be slow at processing. It isn’t easy for me to pick up things. My Support Worker has been there with step-by-step advice and guidance all the way through and he sent me videos on how to set my iPad up. My son helped me order it and then set it up for me.

My iPad was set up and ready to go the day before the first online shiatsu class from Preston Park Recovery Centre. Since lockdown I’ve had the most awful sleep but after a shiatsu class I can more or less guarantee I’m going to sleep well. These classes are essential for me. I was quite overwhelmed in that first session and I instantly felt connected with society. It broke the isolation.

I am a fighter. For me there was no option other than to take that second step. In that first class I had a sudden realisation that through all the difficult and stressful times, I had achieved this! I feel emotional talking about it, it was an incredibly powerful experience. 

I am so glad and appreciative of the support I received from my Support Worker and everyone else who supported me online. The iPad has changed my life. I am absolutely loving what I am accessing. It has helped massively reduce, if not take away, the feelings of absolute isolation and not feeling connected to anything. This is one of the best things I have ever done. I feel like I am taking part in society.

Lockdown has changed everything. My Support Worker is one of two people who calls me every week. I regard him as part of my personal support network who is critical to my wellbeing. I do feel lucky that I’d gone through the process to get somebody involved and supporting me before the lockdown started. His calls are a very important part of my week.

We book our sessions in advance. Sometimes it’s weekly, sometimes it’s a bit longer. He always says if I’ve got a problem or there’s something pressing then I am to send him a message or call him.

He has offered me support and information with other issues and he’s helped me join and access the local housing register, Home Move. It is a complicated process and he’s helped me bid online by myself. I didn’t think I could do that but now I’m more confident. 

He’s always been flexible and able to meet my needs at whatever stage or whatever level. I don’t know where I’d be without him. It’s been invaluable priceless support.

 

Southdown Homelessness Prevention and Mental Health Support Service (Brighton and Hove) provides short-term, flexible and tailored support to prevent homelessness and improve people’s mental health and wellbeing. This support focuses on our clients’ immediate housing needs, and other areas that are impacting their lives such as mental health and wellbeing, employment, finances, and social networks.