Turning your life around is never easy. Simon tells us how SASH helped him find his feet and make a new start in life.
Simon had a difficult and disruptive childhood and found himself, first, in a foster home at the age of 13, then in supported housing at just 16 years of age. Shortly afterwards, he developed a serious drug habit that left him living on the streets with an undiagnosed mental health condition. Simon is now 27 years old and, for the first time, he is excited about his future. He wants to thank SASH for giving him the space, security and safety that has allowed him to get his life together and on track.
Simon was picked up from the streets by the police following a series of petty crimes to fund his drug habit. A stint with the probation services identified potential mental health issues and he was considered a risk to himself. That led to him being sectioned and spending nearly a year in hospital stabilising his mental health.
Being in hospital was crap – so boring. It was like being a child again but knowing everything you know as an adult. You feel a bit like a criminal because you’re denied your freedom. You have to ask permission for anything, and everything you do is monitored. I understand there’s a need for it but it’s just not very pleasant.
You can’t leave voluntarily. You could be allowed out for an hour, but if you say you’re going to the shop but go to the pub instead then you have your leave taken away. It was all the other people in there too. Everybody is unwell and has their own issues so it all gets on top of you. And the food’s terrible!”
It was Simon’s support worker who introduced him to SASH and took him to view a property in Craven Arms. He liked it, but then found out there was one in Bridgnorth. As this was where some of Simon’s family lived, Simon said straight away that he’d take it. These family members had been a constant throughout his life and he has many happy memories of spending summer holidays with them as a child.
“Having some family here, and a few people I knew, and then when I found out where the house was located it just got better and better.
I’ve walked past this house – before I moved here – probably over 1000 times and never actually known what it was. But that made it appeal as well. It’s a bit anonymous. It looks the same as all the other houses. I was so pleased it was here.”
Simon said that after nearly 10 months in hospital, it took him a while to settle into life with SASH. But once settled, he says it has been great.
I think if I hadn’t been in hospital for so long it would have been much quicker. Hospital for 10-11 months, you’re almost institutionalised. You’re so protected and watched over – you don’t like it while it’s happening, but once you leave that environment and that safety net’s gone then you feel vulnerable.
Simon explains that at SASH, there are house rules and boundaries to help everyone know how to conduct themselves. Whenever issues have arisen, he has been impressed with how SASH manages them and resolves them. He said each person is treated with respect and solutions are worked out and agreed between everyone. SASH understands who their clients are, and prides itself on managing issues sympathetically, taking into account individual situations and seeking resolutions that don’t jeopardise the tenant’s accommodation agreements.
But SASH made me feel safe. You have the freedom and at the same time you have protection and safety … it allows you to go out and gives you a safe base. It’s given me the time I needed to get on my feet. And it’s nice to know that if there are any issues – which there rarely is – that there is somebody who can step in and diffuse it. It’s worked really well for me.”
Simon says the transition from where he was when he was admitted to hospital, to where he is now is huge. He’s come a long way and feels really positive he has his mental health issues under control. And the healing has taken time, which is why he says it was so important to be in the safe environment SASH created. And he says he will miss the company of the other residents.
There’s always someone in. You don’t have to explain yourself in regard to mental health and illness. Everyone has been through it in one way or another and, even if you have the same diagnosis, their experience is different to yours. Everyone is understanding and if you’re having a bad day, maybe you can’t face going out, you’re struggling a bit, then someone will step up and go out for you. Everyone understands that you may not be your best today and that’s just the way it is. It makes a big difference.
The biggest thing for me was accepting my condition. I always used to say when I’m better I’m going to do this, and now I just think I’ve got to do what I’m going to do and make my condition fit around me. I’m still get anxious now but I understand what’s going on and I don’t let it control me.
It’s thanks to SASH I’ve been able to get where I am today. Without SASH I wouldn’t have had the space and the security and safety to be able to do it. And my family.
I have an amazing relationship with my family – always have done. There was a few years when I was on ethe drugs that I didn’t see them, but then I come back and it’s as it always was. And there’s birthday cards on the side waiting for me. They never forget about you. The last six years I’ve been able to visit multiple times a week. If tehre’s anything I can do help out then I do, but they have been great in helping me too. I struggle getting out and about sometimes – if there’s an appointment I’m going to struggle to get to they take me – they help me. It’s a nice relationship.
So what does the future hold for Simon and what is it that he is looking forward to so much?
At the moment, he is reading and looking for ways to make money to support himself while he goes travelling. He is seeking knowledge – keen to learn and gain skills that would have otherwise been out of his reach. He loves reading – non-fiction – and engaging with people he can learn from. He’s considering starting a TEFAL course (Teaching English in a Foreign Language) and wants to learn about stocks and shares trading.
It’s a way to make myself some money while I’m travelling.
And the travelling? Simon is planning to travel to Europe shortly. He is excited about opportunities that travelling will open up for him, and all the new skills he will learn along the way.
For the first time in a long time I’m excited about the future! When you struggle to get out of the door, sometimes for weeks at a time, it’s hard to get excited. Instead of doors closing on me, this time there are doors opening. It is exciting!
I just really want to say thank you to SASH. Thank you to Paul – He’s been so supportive and thinks logically and sensibly.
If I had to say anything to the people I’m leaving behind, here in the house then it’s thank you. Work with SASH and stay here until you feel ready to leave. Make the most of your time here because you don’t want to come back. Once you leave, you want to have the best chance for success don’t you.
We wish you the very best of success Simon!