"I’ve felt like a person worthy of help"

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A client sits with their legs crossed, holding a glass of water

A very important aspect of this support from Southdown has been that the sessions included some chat time - to have a catch up and just be human. As someone with autism and the associated anxiety and communication and social challenges, this can often be missed and is not recognised as to how much of a difference this makes and how important it is to folks.

I was referred to Home Works by my Social Worker. I had recently been diagnosed with autism and ADHD after many years of struggling with anxiety and depression. All of a sudden all the challenges I had been experiencing made sense and I just needed help.

As a homeowner I was a bit of an anomaly so my case wasn’t straightforward. I had financial challenges, debt, and my house was in disrepair with a great deal of mess and clutter from not having time to manage all that I had to do. I was very stressed. For almost 20 years I had been trying to manage a house, employment and self-employment, as well as raise a child single-handedly who needed additional educational support.

We didn’t have a working hob or oven, the fridge was mouldy, and the freezer wouldn’t shut. There had recently been a flood and water was regularly pouring into the kitchen. The electrics needed renewing. There was mould in the corners of the rooms and my son had grown out of his bed.

My money situation was all over the place. I had no idea whether I’d be able to pay the bills each month and I regularly couldn’t afford to buy food. I had a debt plan but it was out of date and I couldn’t deal with managing it alone as communication, especially verbal communication, is very challenging for me. I was very stressed trying to juggle it all and the financial challenges of not being able to earn in lockdown affected my mental health.

Support from Southdown helped me emotionally and practically. My Home Works Worker has been amazing. She visited weekly and helped me prioritise what needed to be done. She made me feel totally comfortable and safe, despite being one of only a handful of people I saw during lockdown.

Each week we had a list of tasks ranging from applying for grants, filling in benefits applications, phoning to set up back accounts, dealing with debt management communications, and reading through communications. We got through as much as we could in our sessions and I always felt better off for the visits. I knew that I could put something on the list for next time to save worrying about having to do challenging things alone.

My Home Works Worker responded to emails and texts between sessions to ease any worries I had and offered to help me sort my paperwork to make ongoing budget and household management a lot easier. She printed and laminated budget sheets, updating them as my finances changed. I am so grateful for this.

My money situation is a lot more buoyant now and I believe I’m now receiving all I’m entitled to like Carers Allowance and Council Tax Allowance which were not in place before. I've also received absolutely brilliant support from the Citizens Advice Bureau. The working relationship between Home Works and the CAB Advisor has been so helpful as they could deal with my debt management on my behalf. I couldn’t sort it alone. It was absolutely amazing and so gratefully received - I may have shed a tear or two in appreciation and relief!

With successful grants, I was awarded a new oven and hob, a new fridge, a second-hand freezer, a washing machine, clothes for my son, as well as a tablet for his studies and a new bed. Home Works very kindly did all the ordering and delivery arrangements as I find going out and dealing with new people a challenge.

I cannot begin to say how much of a relief it is to be able to cook food now – and keep it stored safely. It was a constant worry and struggle to provide healthy and properly cooked food.  And to be able to wash clothes without the kitchen flooding!  My son now has a bed which he can fit into, and clothes which don’t have holes or are too small or faded. I feel like I can be a much better mother now that I can provide these basic things for my son.

Emotionally, the regular contact with someone who genuinely cares and understands my situation has meant more to me than I can express. My Home Works Worker has been so relatable and I’ve felt like a person worthy of help which has made all the difference. I’ve never once felt judged for how I am or how I run my life, despite it looking quite chaotic I’m sure. All I’ve felt has been acceptance and support – I can’t tell you how amazing that feels after a lifetime of not fitting in and feeling judged for who I am.

A very important aspect of this support from Southdown has been that the sessions included some chat time - to have a catch up and just be human. As someone with autism and the associated anxiety and communication and social challenges, this can often be missed and is not recognised as to how much of a difference this makes and how important it is to folks.

Home Works really has changed our lives for the better, making things manageable again - and making daily living pleasurable at last!

 

To help people feel secure and keep safe, find affordable housing and avert crisis, we provide a range of housing and homelessness prevention support across East Sussex, West Sussex and Brighton & Hove. As well as focusing on immediate housing need, we also address other issues that are putting the security and stability of housing at risk, for example, poverty, mental health challenges and domestic abuse. All our services are free and available for people aged 18 and over.