Life stories

Life stories

We are proud to have supported so many people to achieve so much in their lives. All of our stories are about the people that we have supported to build their independence.

You may notice that we don’t always tell you the details of someone’s diagnosis or label. There are a couple of reasons for this. The first is that the people we support often have more than one support need. The other is that we’d honestly love to lose the labels and talk only about people. However, we know that there is still a way to go before this can happen.

Anika*

Anika, mum to three-year-old Aleisha, was about to be evicted.

Blonde haired lady

When Anika was referred to KeyRing, she and her 3 year old daughter were due to be evicted from their home because of rent arrears. She was working as a mental health worker but the distress caused by her situation was making this very difficult.

We worked with the Citizen’s Advice Bureau to support her to successfully appeal the eviction and, with help from her parents, arranged a payment plan. We also supported her to get her GP to provide a sick note so she could take time off work while she dealt with these issues. With our help she successfully applied for Universal Credit and Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

After working with KeyRing on her finances Anika now has the confidence to manage her payments herself and deal with issues when they arise.

Having someone to talk to about the issues she was facing has benefitted Anika’s own mental health. She has now returned to her job as a mental health worker which she really enjoys.

Stuart*

Stuart was struggling with debts and had communication difficulties. He was referred by his Doctor.

Smiling man

Stuart lived independently in the community in a private let tenancy. He was referred to KeyRing by his GP and had no other support input. He had a number of debts and lived on Employment and Support Allowance. He often had to go without food, he was socially isolated and had difficulty communicating with others.

Income Maximisation - We worked with Stuart to claim Personal Independence Payment (PIP), supported him through mandatory reconsideration and to claim Employment and Support Allowance. We looked at his finances and looked at options for how to reduce his debts, reduce outgoings and manage his income more efficiently.

Connection - KeyRing encouraged Stuart to attend our community Hub where he was introduced to other Members. Socialising was extremely difficult for him and we worked hard to find ways to support him and recognise the barriers he faced.

Recognition of skills - He has a number of skills and had previously worked as a chef. As soon as he started to talk about cookery and food he became animated and engaged.

Mutual Support - We worked with him to use and share his cookery skills with other Members at our community hub.

Move on - Stuart does not receive a funded place within the KeyRing Network now but does come along to our weekly hub where he can discuss any issues.

Chris*

Chris was struggling with mental ill health and couldn’t afford to heat his flat.

Man in grey top

When Chris joined KeyRing three months ago, he was struggling with mental ill health following a relationship breakdown and homelessness. He had spent several months sleeping in his car before he had to scrap it because he couldn’t afford the MOT.

Despite his mental health spiraling, Chris did his best to keep smiling and managed to secure a rental agreement on a privately owned flat. It was cold but it was home.

When we started to support him, Chris was facing a Work Capability Assessment. He was worried about getting there and generally anxious about the process. With our help he overcame these barriers and is now able to claim the additional Limited Capability for Work component of Universal Credit. We helped him to secure a back payment as well.

He says: ‘Without KeyRing’s support, I would not even have made it to the appointment and my life would be no different’.

Chris could now afford to feed himself and heat his property. He was even able to budget for a car. This is key to Chris’ independence.

As part of our initial assessment, we discovered that Chris had been missing his appointments at the Mental Health Resource Centre. There was a danger that he would be discharged. We did not feel this was right for Chris. Together we worked with him to set up a reminder system for appointments and spoke with the Centre to ensure that he was not discharged.

There is still a lot of support that KeyRing can offer Chris. A lot of really useful work has been done in such a short space of time. Chris benefits from the reassurance that somebody is there when needed and together we are working on his next steps to independence.

Sam*

Sam wanted a job but was worried about how it would affect his finances.

Smiling man in blue tank top

Sam has learning difficulties and severe anxiety. When he joined KeyRing we asked him about what he wanted to achieve and he told us that he wanted to find a job. His goal was to save enough money to put down a deposit for a new flat for himself and his family, but he was worried about how employment would affect his Universal Credit.

We worked with Sam to help him understand his finances and he realised that he would be better off if he was working. With this assurance Sam felt confident to first get a part time job as a cleaner at a local caravan park, then additional part time job in a local pub.

Sam is really enjoying working and being financially secure. His next goal is to move into full time employment.

Anthony*

Anthony was sleeping rough and had developed a drinking problem. He was suicidal.

Smiling man in pink top

When Anthony visited the council for help they told him to go home – he couldn’t do this because his marriage had broken down and his wife had changed the locks at their home. The council still told him to go back there. Six months later he was told he and his wife owed over £3,000 in rent and that he had to pay half this. He had not known that his wife was not managing their money properly so this was a huge shock. He became extremely stressed and anxious. At this point Anthony was sleeping rough a lot of the time. He went to Shelter for help but there were always more people than beds

Anthony developed a drinking problem and people he spent time with would take advantage of him. “I felt like committing suicide, depressed, judged, not even a valued member of society, I felt sick, wet dirty insignificant and lonely.”

Anthony managed his benefits by having his post sent to his brother’s house, although he could not stay there because there was no space. The Jobcentre told him he could not be homeless if he had an address. Anthony visited the local community centre for breakfast. Here an advisor referred him to KeyRing.

His Community Enabler (Jacqui) spoke to the council on his behalf and he was finally offered a flat. Jacqui also helped Anthony to get a Discretionary Payment so that he could buy some items of furniture. Three months after he moved Jacqui spoke to Anthony about how he is getting on.

“Over the weeks and months it has changed me to wanting to live life, enjoy my grandchildren be involved with their lives. It has totally changed me and now I still drink but only to socialise not to stay out the cold, or drink myself to a drunken state because of the depression homelessness brought. I am still adapting as even though I have got a couch I feel I can only sit in the one chair as I feel at times it doesn’t belong to me and fear someone is going take it all away from me. It has been a long journey but now I am happier and warm, drinking less and feel clean and part of society again.”

Bryan*

Bryan had just been released from custody and needed support to connect with his family and manage his finances.

Man in grey top

When Bryan joined KeyRing he had recently been released from custody. He initially joined our Intensive Support service as he had a number of issues that needed to be resolved. He had no ID, low income, was very isolated and only focused on his health issues.

Working with his Community Enabler, Bryan was able to get ID, successfully apply for Personal Independence Payments (PIP) and make a budget plan which he manages well. Bryan has now returned to volunteering at a local charity shop where his confidence has grown. He regularly takes part in KeyRing activities, joining the Hubs and developing friendships with other Members.

He sees his mum and daughter regularly.

Through volunteering, being part of his community and spending time with his family Bryan’s confidence has grown and he now focuses on the things that are going well in his life.

Laura*

Laura was living with her father and her daughter was staying with relatives.

Smiling woman with long dark hair

When Laura joined KeyRing she was living with her father. She was looking for her own place but as she was on Universal Credit with deductions being taken out this was very difficult. She then had to move out of the flat to stay with a friend when her father was given a custodial sentence.

We supported Laura to her Work Capability Assessment. The money she was awarded made a huge difference and she was able to have her daughter to live with her again after staying with relatives. This also made it easier to apply for somewhere to live and she was offered a property by the local council.

When she moved in we supported her to claim the correct benefits and apply for some help with buying essential items for her new home. She has settled in and made friends with some of her neighbours.

Laura now receives very low-level support from us and will soon be moving on from the service.

Lee*

Lee has been supported by KeyRing to build his independence and confidence. He no longer receives KeyRing support but does volunteer his time to help other KeyRing Members.

Smiling man in green top

During Covid-19, Lee has offered ongoing support to other residents in Oxford Road. He will support them if they are struggling with technical issues with phones, downloading apps etc to stay in contact with staff. In addition to this, he has offered to do shopping calls to people who are isolating in his neighbourhood. He is friends with people in the community and offering reassurance if there is any concern’s that other Members share with him.

He provided a guide on how to use the Houseparty application so that Members could meet virtually. Members even use this to do online cooking sessions together.

Lee is now moving through the process at KeyRing to become an official Community Connections Volunteer. We are really proud of him and thrilled that he has offered his skills to help others.

Chloe*

Chloe was at risk of losing her tenancy and was not practicing safe sex.

Smiling woman wearing necklace

Managing money- When referred to KeyRing, Chloe was in the process of going through an appointeeship,to take over her finances. KeyRing were able to work in partnership and complete this, getting Chloe to understand what they do and how they can help her.

Sexual Health- Chloe is sexually active, but concerns were raised that she didn’t fully understand about safe sex. We supported her to attend the sexual health clinic, getting contraception implanted and provision of condoms to prevent Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI).

Managing tenancy- Chloe was at risk of losing her home due to the condition of the bungalow. We were able to work with her to understand this and she decided to get a cleaner in who could help her with this. Chloe is no longer at risk of losing her home.

Oral Hygiene- Chloe was terrified of the dentist and had very bad oral hygiene. KeyRing were able to support her to visit a specialist dentist for people with learning disability due to her anxiety. We managed to support her several times there and then supported her to attend the hospital where she had two teeth removed.

Now-

11 months on, Chloe has moved on from our service and Is living independently. She does still keep in touch through our community events, such as hubs and network meetings. She knows exactly where we are if she needs anything.

Alan*

Alan had been in supported living for 13 years and wanted to live independently.

Smiling man in blue top

Alan wanted to move from supported living, which was costing £608 per week. We worked with Alan before he moved so that we could help plan the transition. We supported him to bid on properties and visit when an offer was made, and helped him to secure a decorating grant. We also helped him to plan the move so that he could do it gradually and be fully involved in getting his flat ready. At first Alan received 40 hours outreach support in addition to support from KeyRing. This included support with:

      • setting up utilities and payments
      • setting an alarm system
      • budgeting
      • managing his health
      • looking after his flat
      • letters
      • being part of KeyRing and meeting other Members
      • planning a holiday

This was reduced first to 15 hours and later down to 0 leaving Alan with just support from KeyRing at a cost of £70 per week. He also no longer needed a named social worker. Alan now maintains his flat, has no arrears and has started to save, has travelled on days out and been on holiday by himself, joined local groups and activities and manages his health.

Dean*

Dean had been financially abused and was struggling to cope.

Smiling man

Dean lives alone following the death of his partner. He had been financially abused by unscrupulous tradesmen. Dean was not coping well with his finances or paperwork.

We discussed the situation with Dean who decided to see an independent financial advisor. He wanted to weigh up whether he could afford to retire. We supported him through this process and Dean has since decided to begin enjoying his retirement.

Dean’s standard of living was low. His house was in a state of disrepair and he could not cook himself hot meals as he did not have a cooker. We sought a list of reputable tradesmen and supported Dean to obtain quotations. He is now happy with his home.

Dean has been connected into local men’s groups in his community and we are continuing to find him activities that fit with his hobbies and interests.

Dean is now looking into going on holiday. He tells us that he never had a happy holiday and is worried about it but that he would like to try out a short break to begin with.

Dean is having an enjoyable and active retirement.

 

Daniel*

Daniel had no utilities and was struggling with anxiety.

Man in pink top

When Daniel joined KeyRing, he had no heating, hot water, working toilet or furniture. He had a house but not a home. He had severe and crippling anxiety.

We supported Daniel to go through his mail, complete forms and make calls. He began to attend GP appointments to support him with his mental health and we arranged for him to have phone sessions with a counsellor.

Daniel recognised that his home environment was affecting his mental health. He had previously had support to improve his home but he felt overwhelmed. He did not feel like he was in control of the situation. KeyRing supported him to make decisions for himself. Daniel obtained quotations, decided how much he could afford, arranged for funds to be released from his pension and discussed what he wanted from his home improvements.

The renovations took five weeks. Now Daniel lives in a home that he is proud to invite people into. He is much more active and confident. He maintains his house and keeps on top of the cleaning.

Daniel is connected with other KeyRing Members and his social circle is widening. He helps to inspire others to make changes and to do what they can to make their homes welcoming and relaxing.

 

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