“Southdown support has completely changed my life – from A to Z, from 0 to 100%”
Southdown support has completely changed my life – from A to Z, from 0 to 100%.
I hadn’t experienced so much help from someone before. My Support Worker took me from a dark place to a place where I could see some light.
I found out about Southdown when someone gave me information about them at the council. At the time I was bidding for properties on Homemove. I was in Band D and had been on the housing register for over seven years.
I was living in a private rented flat with my wife and two children. I have fibromyalgia, high blood pressure, diabetes, and arthritis and even though I could access the flat from outside, inside accessibility was difficult and I wasn’t able to make any adaptations.
My main problem was access to the bathroom. I’d fallen in it twice and lost my two front teeth and broke my foot. I also had severe depression and had been treated for my mental health for six months.
It has been difficult. I was sporty, a basketball player, but in the last two or three years my health really went down, and I’m not sleeping, my mind isn’t clear, and I have to take a lot of medication.
The pain is unbelievable and can be anywhere on my body. It can move around at different times and different places.
I needed a lot of care and support from my family which was hard to accept. At night I had to ask my wife to help me go to the bathroom. I didn’t want friends to visit me. I became isolated. It was a very hard time.
When I called Southdown and explained my situation, a worker came to visit me. She helped compile medical information from my doctor and arranged a meeting with the council which helped me move from Band D to Band C with a mobility code on the local housing register.
When she left, I was appointed another Support Worker. He was really active. He would come to my flat once a week – sometimes twice if I had an appointment. He spent a lot of time contacting the council’s housing department, occupational therapy department, and housing needs department.
He supported me to provide evidence of my eligibility to live in the UK, and helped me engage with the council, health services, and benefits system, especially because English isn’t my first language.
After an Occupational Therapist came to my flat to make an assessment, my Support Worker sent all the medical reports to the housing department, contacted the council officers about my case, and I was given priority.
I couldn’t believe what happened after! I felt I was dreaming. I received a call from the council to view this flat. It’s a beautiful apartment in a brand new building. It’s accessible and I am secure financially – when I was privately renting, my housing benefit didn’t cover my rent, but now I am in council accommodation, it covers all of my rent.
It’s a ground floor flat suitable for disabilities but I needed some more minor adaptations like a seat in the shower. Now I can shower by myself, I can wash every day. I have my independence back. It makes a big difference.
I have my cousin living 500 metres from here which is good for my family to come and visit. I walked to the supermarket for the first time in two years the other day.
It was hard for me as a man not to be able to help my family. Now I can do a lot of things for myself it’s easier for my family because my wife spent a lot of time supporting and caring for me plus my mood was low. There’s more space for us and she has more time. Before there was no rest. It was 24 hours a day.
It took seven months from my first meeting with Southdown to when I moved. Seven months after waiting for seven years.
I feel happier. Before, I was angry and aggressive and irritable. Now, I feel calmer – I’m back to normal. My mood is lifted. I contact my family, friends come visit me, and I can go outside. It makes a big difference. I’ve found myself now.
I’ve been able to reduce my pain and mental health medication. The pain is stabilised and I’m able to manage it more. I visit the pain clinic every three months.
I understand my chronic disease and I accept it. I want to live with my condition. Before, I wanted it to end. Now I see a connection between physical health and mental wellbeing.
I know that this happy end is 100% due to the support from my Support Worker. I felt like I was his only client. He gave me so much energy, attention, focus, and support. His conversations inspired me. I felt safe with him, he protected me. I felt I had someone there for me whenever I called him. He felt like a brother.
Sharing my experience is the minimum I can give back – I really want people to know the hard work and support that Southdown provides. It’s important that people know how Support Workers can transform lives.
I have a good life. It doesn’t matter now what happens in three or five years’ time. I can accept changes with my health. I want to live. I want to enjoy life with my family. Before, I wanted to die. Now I don’t have those thoughts. I want to live each day fully.
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.