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

Anthony became homeless in 2000. He visited the council for help but 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 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.

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