Mackenzie, 38, came to My Space in July 2017. Shortly afterwards he was accepted into drug and alcohol charity Betel UK to tackle his addictions. After three months, Mackenzie came back to My Space, where he was rehoused in Shirebrook, Mansfield. “Moving away from Skegness was the best thing for me at that time,” he says. “It was too easy to slip back into my old ways there.”
Since being with us, Mackenzie’s Housing Support Officer has supported him to get help for his anxiety and depression, as well as his alcoholism and drug use. Although this wasn’t an easy time, he is much happier now and proud of how far he has come. “I now have a relationship with my sister and nephews who live locally – I didn’t think this was possible.”
He puts his achievement down to the help and support of his Housing Support Officer and for being away from Skegness where he had many bad memories and associations. “My Housing Support Officer listens to me and has supported me, even when I have started drinking again. She has never given up on me – I’ve never had that kind of support before.”
Mackenzie is keen to start fishing, and has been saving up to buy tackle. He has also told us that he would like to volunteer and meet new people, which we would fully support. “I really like where I live and I have great neighbours,” he says. “I appreciate all the help and support I receive and have finally been given a chance to be the person I have always wanted to be.”
Bev has been with My Space since August 2017. Prior to that she had been in social housing but felt she wasn’t getting the right support for the depression and anxiety she’s suffered from all her life. She’s now happy and in a place where she’s getting the help she needs. “It’s having someone there,” she says. “Someone to listen and give me advice.”
Bev has found that her Housing Support Officer is easy to talk to and has given her the support she needs to start getting out and about: “I have extreme anxiety about going out, but Gwen has helped me plan things, like appointments or going to the doctor’s – she gives me that little extra helping hand.”
Bev plans to stay with My Space, as with our support her quality of life is improving all the time, and she feels she’s getting back to normal. “I can’t imagine this support being taken away.”
As for the future – “I love horseriding and I would love to go again!”
Paul, 48, has been with My Space for 12 months, and with our support in that time he’s really turned things around, not having had the best start in life.
Paul told us: “I had a bad upbringing. Since I was 11 my life’s been chaos, I was sniffing glue and taking drugs, and I’ve been in and out of prison.”
One of Paul’s biggest regrets is that he’s lost touch with his son, who is now 28. “I’ve never been there for him,” he says. “I’ve never watched him play football or been any kind of role model – I’ve let him down.
“I was drinking just to function, starting at 6 o’clock in the morning. I didn’t even grieve properly when my mum died, I drank to numb the pain. You’re selfish when you’re an addict – I was in self-destruct mode, self-pity mode, always trying to justify my addiction and making excuses.”
Paul says the best thing he’s ever done was checking into rehab. He detoxed for six days, and has been sober now for eight months. “I’ve turned my life right around, I won’t ever turn to drink again, no matter what life throws at me. It’s been a rollercoaster but I need to take charge and stand on my own two feet – I’m getting there.”
Paul is now hoping to get some voluntary work. He’d be happy to do anything to occupy his time. He feels that none of this would have been possible without the support of My Space and his Housing Support Officer.
“My Space have given me a chance, I’ve got a lovely home in a nice area with good neighbours, and I treat it with respect. I keep it nice. I’ve never been given a chance before.”
L has suffered from mental health issues which led to living in homeless accommodation. “It wasn’t very nice,” she told us, “but it was a roof over my head.”
She was referred to My Space, and within two weeks she had a property to view: “It’s gorgeous!” she says.
One of the main focuses for L was to repair and improve her relationship with her daughter, so we provided her with a two bedroom property to make that possible.
One of the most important things for L is that My Space staff have been supportive, understanding and non-judgemental. “They demonstrate a real concern for my wellbeing, which isn’t always the case with other services.
“They genuinely care about me, and see me as a person, not just an illness.”
Phil, 35, is a real My Space success story. He’s been with us for three years, in the same property and with the same Housing Support Officer, with whom he’s built up a strong relationship.
Before coming to My Space Phil had been tackling drug and addiction problems. He had been in and out of hospital and prison and was living in a care home. Our Housing Support Officer worked with Phil to maintain his tenancy, supporting him with sorting out his benefits and bills, and he has also benefited from help from our repairs and maintenance team.
Phil had been helping out at a foodbank, but it was at an open day at his former care home, Langley House Trust, that another volunteering opportunity came up: helping people with learning disabilities. Phil has now been volunteering since September 2016, and supports residents with their planners, organises outings, runs meetings and is basically there to lend an ear. “It’s hard work, but very rewarding,” Phil told us. “It’s different every day. There’s some challenging behaviour but I’ve had the right training to deal with it.” Phil now has a 36 hour a week position as a Project Worker. He says: “It’s a good company to work for, there are some good opportunities.” As well as his job, Phil is also getting ready to move on from My Space and take on his own tenancy.
Phil’s hard work has paid off, and earlier this year it was rewarded with an invitation to the House of Lords to receive an award from one of Langley House Trust’s patrons, Lord Ramsbotham, in recognition of how far he’s come – an amazing achievement!
Laura, 30, was one of My Space’s first tenants; she’s been with us for over four years and in her current property for three. Before coming to us she was living with another housing association, but in reality: “I don’t know where I was – I was out of control, I couldn’t pay my bills, I was very much off track,” she told us. “I was in a destructive, controlling relationship and using a lot of cannabis.
“I needed to build trust and relationships before I could start to address my problems. I was very resistant to change – now I realise I needed consistency and stability.” Getting the right Housing Support Officer in place was important, and the process itself helped Laura get used to change.
It took a couple of years for Laura to start to see a change in herself – she took a slow and steady approach, but help from My Space with budgeting, healthy eating and how to save money, as well as support with mental health issues meant her journey was ultimately a successful one. As well as My Space, Laura received support from Pathways to Recovery, social services and mental health services.
“People like us, we get left behind, we struggle. But I haven’t been pushed, it’s come from me at my own pace, and I’m in a completely different mindset now,” she says. “I’d recommend My Space to anyone – they have allowed me to be me. I’m allowed to have bad days as well as good days, they understand and let me have those feelings.”
It’s amazing to see how far Laura has come. “She has always been able to hold her hands up and be honest about how she feels, which has really helped,” her Housing Support Officer told us. “She has taken parenting classes and realised that the more stable she is, the more stable her son will be. She has now been discharged by her social worker, the early intervention team and her health visitor, but will only need to move on from us when she’s absolutely ready.”
So what does the future hold for Laura? As well as studying hairdressing, she is fully engaged at Pathways and hopes to become a volunteer there. She is also planning to study Reiki: “I want to heal people. I want to give back what I’ve been given, and my goal is to work with families and children.”
Laura is feeling positive about the future – situations that would have once daunted her she now finds exciting. “I’m excited by where the journey is taking me. I used to think of my mistakes as failures, but now I view them as lessons – I’m always thinking positively.
“I’m learning life again – it’s made me feel whole!”
Danielle, 23, moved into her flat in mid-January. She’s really happy there, and she’s getting all the support she needs to make her tenancy a success.
“I really like the flat – it’s near the shops and the bus routes,” she told us. “The staff are really helpful and there to give me a hand if I need it. They are helping me practise cooking in my kitchen!”
Danielle is studying Animal Care at college and hopes to get a voluntary job working with animals in the future – her favourite are horses!