After working for several months with Healthy Minds, they felt that I would benefit from long-term ongoing support that they could not offer, and as such they referred me to TPA, a service I hadn’t previously heard of. I have been lucky enough to work with my TPA keyworker, Leilha, for over a year now. Initially the referral was for help with my hoarding issues, but alongside this, Leilha has supported me to access other organisations to help me.

For the hoarding, we looked at the issues and what needed to be done in the property. Initially Leilha and I worked together as to what needed to be done. She had thought that it would be more the two of us working through the hoarding together, but for me it was more having that person who I could work out what I needed to do next to move forward with the clearing and then I could work on that between meetings, rather than just shutting the door on it all and procrastinating about it. Having a person that I am answerable to helps me, even though I realise I should do it for myself. I had learnt previously that it was better to work on one area at a time as it is easy for me to flit from room to room and not see any progress when just moving bits from different areas. The area I was working on was the dining room, but the progress was very slow and Leilha discussed how it may be better to work on the smaller area of the kitchen to see progress quicker. We talked in our meetings at what was doable for me before our next meeting to move forward with clearing the hoarding and I kept a log as to what I removed, what happened with what left the house eg rubbish, charity shop, how much went …. It was still a slow process, but things were moving forward, and I managed to clear a reasonable amount from the kitchen to be able to see actual progress.

Leilha looked into grants and help with getting work done at the house, as I have no heating as the boiler broke a few years ago and the property needs essential repairs doing on it. She applied for a grant for replacing my boiler and arranged for an engineer to come out to produce a quote to replace the boiler to be sent to the grant company. Unfortunately, because I have a tank upstairs and because of the hoarding this is inaccessible, he was unable to give me a quote as he needs to see the tank to see what connections that has to be able to give an accurate quote. I still have his contact to have him back once the tank area is accessible.

Leilha also advised me about a company called Handy Ladies who would come out to help work with the hoarding and also can do property repairs. She made enquiries for me about costs etc and although anxious, I agreed for the ladies to come out to the house so they could describe what they offered and Leilha met them with me. It was reassuring to hear them talk about understanding about hoarding and holding onto items as they had gone through it to a smaller degree. Moving forward I had several meetings with the ladies from the company who helped me work through some of the stuff in the dining room and they removed anything for the tip. This is a service that you pay for and the TPA funded several sessions to help me and I won some hours from the Handy Ladies too. I have had some sessions where we have worked through the hoarding, but they have also done some work on strengthening some of the floorboards. Having an issue of allowing people into my property, the fact that Leilha came to the initial meetings with these people eased the process for me until I was able to let them in on my own. Financially, I have had to stop using the service temporarily but have their details to contact again once I have saved up for more sessions. After talking to Leilha about needing to save, she explained about the Credit Union and the fact it might be worth me looking into that for saving and down the line they could possibly offer loans. I looked into this and decided to go ahead and join the Credit Union in Stockport and my first payment will go into my new account this month.

Leilha has looked at the bigger picture with me and suggested other things that she felt may help me, but at no time has she said I have to do these things:-
– The 3 days Goals course. Again I was apprehensive but met one of the ladies running the course and decided to attend. Both Leilha and the ladies running the course understood how the anxiety and depression affects how you feel and reassured me that even if it got to the day of the course if I didn’t feel I could attend then it would be ok to not attend, but if I could attend then it would be good. Being able to talk to Leilha helped and I managed to attend all 3 days.

– Arc and its Outreach and Challenge programmes. Leilha and I went to meet them at Arc together to see where it was based and to talk about what was offered and then at the meeting we completed the referral form for me to attend an Outreach course in Offerton. Leilha was going to attend the first session with me but unfortunately on the day she was unable to attend, and although it would have been easy for me to back out, I decided that I would attend on my own, as I knew I would feel a failure if I hadn’t at least tried to attend. However, after the first session I really strongly felt this was not going to be for me at all, and at the end of the session, once I was back in my car it felt reassuring that I could message Leilha and discuss how I felt. Once I have committed to something I don’t like to not try to go as I know that afterwards I would worry and be angry with myself for proving to myself that I am a failure so I decided to try another week and kept returning, even though it took me to the last few weeks to feel comfortable. Until then I really didn’t think it was for me and continued to talk to Leilha about it. What had made me feel uncomfortable was the fact that some participants felt able to openly discuss everything they had gone through and I felt out of my depth hearing some of this, but I realised that they possibly had no other outlet to be able to talk about these things whereas I had Leilha and my family. Despite how I had felt initially, I progressed on to the 6 month Challenge program based at Arc in Reddish and I got so much from this. It has given me some confidence around different people and I have made some friends and it is nice to be able to be myself with people who understand how I am feeling and yet we are all treated as normal rather than in some other services where with mental illnesses you are meant to feel like an ‘ill’ person. After feeling so bad after that initial outreach session by the end of Challenge I felt the total opposite, I didn’t know how I was going to manage without it. Since finishing the Challenge programme I have attended several other sessions that Arc have offered including Mindful Movement, Creative Writing, Laughter Project, Cherish Project, Textile sessions and have even helped out on one of their Saturday craft days. This has become a safe place for me to go, I am so pleased I stuck with the outreach, with Leilha and the TPAs support.

– Leilha has also got me further help with the property. She arranged for a Fire Service visit to the house, where the lady talked through making the property as safe as possible and also fitted several smoke alarms for me. Leilha also arranged for a visit from LEAP. For both of these visits, Leilha met them at the house with me. The LEAP gentleman was unable to suggest any grants that are available in Stockport at the moment for help with essential property repairs and boiler replacement but is putting my name onto a list for if the ECO grants are reopened. He also provided me with a TV socket standby adapter and several energy saving bulbs. We talked about changing my gas and electric service provider but he suggested that it would be better to wait until I got the boiler replaced to get some accurate bills to see about changing.

– Together Leilha and I have talked about what might be holding me back and have talked about the best way to address this, which would ultimately be counselling. I recently decided it was the right time to address this, in order to move forward again. Previously I felt I had so many different things going on that it wasn’t the right time for me to add on something else as I knew that I would become overwhelmed with it all and that wouldn’t benefit my health. Leilha referred me for this but the organisation decided that as I had worked well with Healthy Minds previously I should be referred back to them. Leilha sat with me whilst we did a self-referral online for this. As there is a long waiting list, Leilha also suggested she could refer me to TLC in the meantime, which I agreed to and I have had my assessment appointment for this. I have also heard from Healthy Minds and I have a telephone assessment appointment for this next week. Speaking on the telephone provokes anxiety for me but having emailed Leilha to let her know I’d got these appointments and my concerns, she suggested I mention at the beginning of the call how I find telephone calls so that they are aware.

Leilha and the TPA have helped me greatly in different ways over the months I have been working with them.
The initial referral to the TPA was purely to deal with the hoarding, and although we have addressed this and I have started working on it and it is still very much a work in progress, I have moved forward with it as previously I had stopped dealing with it altogether. However, after talking to Leilha at our meetings, she has given me so much more support than just dealing with the hoarding to enable me to make steps to move forward in my life. She has looked at things as a whole and has made me feel that I am worth something and that I have a right to feel ok. Having that support, someone that I can ring or email if I have any concerns between meetings, someone who has listened and talked and discussed not just about the hoarding but also who has looked into other organisations that could help me move on and who has listened when I am struggling and suggested ways to look at things has been amazing. Just knowing that support is there has given me the confidence to join a new peer led depression group which I attend weekly. When the group decided to open up to new members I was apprehensive and anxious as I have become comfortable with the small group that started together, but after emailing Leilha to explain how I was feeling, just having this contact was enough for me to go along with it and I am currently getting used to the new members.

For me, the TPA has been a very positive experience and my Keyworker Leilha has worked extremely hard with me to help me to get where I am today. Without the TPA involvement I would not have accessed any of the above that I have talked about as I hadn’t heard about most of them, and I hadn’t heard about the TPA before either. I also rarely let people into my house so having the support from Leilha meant that she could attend at initial meetings with people coming to the property, and she has attended places such as Arc to help me familiarise myself and gain some confidence before attending the sessions. It was also good to know that Julia from TPA was at the Outreach program, as although she was supporting someone else, just knowing someone from TPA was in attendance somehow gave me the extra confidence to carry on attending despite my initial feelings. Recently it felt like a backward step being referred back to Healthy Minds as it was them that referred me to the TPA, so it felt like I’ve felt in the past, being passed around in circles, but Leilha had tried to get me seen by another service but they had advised that Healthy Minds was the best place to be referred back to, as I had worked well with them in the past. I have worked well with them over the years having been referred back to them several times since 2000, and each time I have been addressing different things happening at the time, so without that help I wouldn’t be where I am now, so it’s ok to go back again, particular as we have pinpointed what I want to address and it may help ultimately with the hoarding too. Being able to talk to my TPA Keyworker, Leilha, has helped me to see that it isn’t a backward step but another step on the way to improving.

After talking with my GP and being advised not to take on too much at one go, I had been honest with myself earlier in our sessions that it wasn’t the right time for me to address the issues with so many other new things going on eg Arc, but with Leilha we have identified how strong things that have happened in the past are still affecting me today as I haven’t allowed myself to deal with them. I made the decision that now was the right time after losing a close friend to cancer recently and seeing how life is so short, so I need to work on putting the past behind me to move forward. The TPA has provided that one person I can talk to who isn’t going to judge or make me do something but who will listen and discuss options and suggest what other avenues there may be that I want to pursue or look at, but then enabling me to make that final decision myself and this has been so helpful to me. I cannot thank Leilha and the TPA enough and I have been lucky enough to have received many months of this help and support. In an ideal world I would hope to keep the support of my Keyworker Leilha indefinitely, even if it were just for monthly catch ups, as somehow knowing that I have that person to go to strengthens my confidence having that consistency despite other things changing.


*Katy has asked for her name to be changed

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