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I Was Gutted When I Finished

You know, I've had a very violent, rough life. I was beaten about as a child. As life’s gone on, I've been in many battles. I’ve been assaulted, I’ve been stabbed, I’ve had a stroke. The last attack was really severe, which nearly killed me and left me for dead. I survived it, and that’s why I think I'm destined to be here.

I've always been a drinker, but it would only be a couple of glasses of wine after I got home from work. Things started to change after the machete attack because I started drinking to hide my feelings and to hide my problems. Drink became a medication.

The traumas that I’ve had have given me mental health issues. I’ve been screaming out for help for years. But mental health is so hard to explain. It really is. When people find out you’ve got mental health, they give it: “Woah! I don't want to deal with this.” Some people just can't understand. My family understands because they've seen me go through it for years. It used to break my mum’s heart to see me go downhill.

I was referred to Safe Haven, an Elmore service. I got a meeting with Lily. At the time I wasn’t the full shilling, I really wasn't. I was like an exploding bomb waiting to go off. I went to meet Lily and I only sat there for about five minutes. I thought, “This is a piece of shit, it’s all bollocks” and I walked off because I wasn't in that right frame of mind. But she rang me and said, “Don't worry about it. We’ll arrange another meeting.” We had a good chat down the phone. She said, “I’m here to help you,” and I said, "Yeah, I know but I’m not ready for this.” and she went, “You'll be fine. You will be fine.” So I started going to the meetings.

Elmore have been absolutely brilliant. I’ve met some lovely people. Me and Lily, we just clicked. She basically talked the truth out of me - how I felt, how I was coping. She was just there. She was around my daughter's age and sometimes it was like talking to my daughter. Yeah, I had the odd tear. One thing she picked up on, she said ”I've noticed with you, when you're stressed you pick your nails, you just play with your nails. I know you’re stressed then.” I’ve never missed a meeting with her.

At one stage I had no money. Nothing at all. I think I had about 13p to my name. Lily got me sorted with the food bank. I had next to nothing in the cupboards or the fridge, and the next day there was a food voucher to pick up from the surgery. Lily’s a godsend. She asked “How are you getting to and from Banbury? I’ll get you a bus pass,” and she did, so now I can go anywhere. If I want to go to Bicester, I can go to Bicester. My sister said to me “If you want to come to me for Christmas, I can come and pick you up'' and I said, “I’ve got a bus pass!” Lily’s been a wonderful girl to me, she really, really has.

Elmore make an effort to see you, to make sure you’re fine, to chase things for you. On Friday I got a phone call from PIP. We thought it was going to be a personal meeting, but because of mental health, and there’s still Covid and what not, they just wanted to do it down the phone. They were asking me questions, and I didn't have a clue what they were on about. They said, “Right we’ve accepted your claim.” I thought, “Someone’s taking the piss here.” I was expecting them to say, “Can we have your bank account number?” I'm thinking “Yeah, here we go. I've had that before. No you can't.” Lily just took over down the phone. It took about an hour. She went through everything. I got an email stating it's been accepted. Hopefully what Lily’s done is I've got a nice lump sum! I can put loads of gas and electric on that’ll cover me for weeks and weeks and weeks. I’ll be able to go down the shop without a food bank voucher, let somebody else have that food. Lily did all that for me, bless her.

I've had a very turbulent life. I really have. It's about what you do next, isn't it? I want to get back to work. I’m a grafter, always have been. I’ve had a very varied work life. I'm signed off till January but I need to get back to work for my own sanity. I like going to work, especially if you can have that bit of banter while you’re working. Yeah, that's my plan. And I need to get out of here. I really want a house or bungalow. I just have to plod on, take each day as it comes.

I must admit I was gutted when I finished with Elmore. I did cry a bit about it because I've had so much help, so, so much help.


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