Starts at Home day is an opportunity for housing associations to celebrate supported housing and the positive impact it makes on thousands of lives.

We support the campaign and recognise how supported housing helps turn lives around. Offering a place to live with specialist support can make a real difference to people who otherwise wouldn’t have anywhere to turn, like Debbie.

Six years ago, Debbie was a Promotions Manager working full time in London and enjoying her life. Despite knowing there was a history of heart disease in her family, this wasn’t something that Debbie worried too much about, after all, she was only 36. But without warning, she had a sever cardiac arrest and was unable to walk or do any of the usual day to day things that we all take for granted.

Debbie had to move into a rehabilitation unit where she slowly started her recovery. She was never expected to walk again, let alone live independently and take care of herself. After rehab, the only place she could live was with her mum in a house that wasn’t suitable for her condition. With the help of Debbie’s social worker, she was offered a place in Berryfields, a specialist brain injury supported housing scheme in Colchester and she was successful in gaining a placement. The scheme is made up of eight, self-contained bungalows around a shared office and lounge area and staff are on hand for any support needs.

Members of staff helped Debbie with her physical recovery and slowly but surely, her confidence and ability grew. Debbie is very clear that all these developments in her skills were in large part down to the support she received at Berryfields;

“At the beginning of my time at Berryfields, I had sleep-in support for a month as I was sleepwalking a lot”. Staff helped me re-learn basic skills like cooking and cleaning. However difficult, I always knew the staff were on hand if I needed them. I worked day and night to learn how to tie my shoelaces and the day I managed to make my own bed was really special.

“It’s the most amazing security and the support is priceless. I know how super lucky I am and I wish everyone’s rehabilitation could be this successful. I wouldn’t have been able to do the things I’ve done had I not moved in here and the staff have been patent, compassionate and second to none – they are like my family now.”

                                                                                                                                    L-R: Debbie with Paul and Steve
Steve, Berryfields Manager said
: “I’ve worked in support for about 20 years and the reason I still do is because I there are so many vulnerable people out there who need support. Seeing someone’s journey and how well they’ve come on is wonderful.

“It’s a real privilege to see people from being at their most needy to not needing us at all. We stop people spiralling out of control and it saves the government money on other services like the NHS, social services and the Police. With our support customers wouldn’t be as confident, fulfilled or re-join their local community.”

Debbie now lives in a new flat just a stone’s throw from Berryfields and is a volunteer at the local PDSA. It’s a long way from when she moved in;

“I was really down, I even thought about taking my own life; you feel trapped and frustrated. But the support I have had here has been priceless. If I won the lottery I would give all the support workers here a large chunk!”

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