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Peter’s story

There’s always light at the end of the tunnel. You can regain your confidence and get your life back together

I have been in supported housing with Platfform for about 18 months now.
I went from working full-time for 33 years at a factory that was just across the road from where I lived to suddenly being made redundant and I couldn’t believe it, I didn’t know what to do

I locked myself away for 12 months, I was really struggling but kept it all to myself, I even kept it from my two boys.

It was such a shock and the final day of work felt like the beginning of a war. After that it was so hard because I lived so close to the factory which had departments that were still going. I could hear people working – it was too close and I found it very upsetting.

I really struggled with opening letters and ended up with three black bags full of them. I couldn’t bring myself to open them and eventually my house was repossessed and I became homeless. I was out on the day that it happened and when I got home I could see three men in my house going through all of my belongings and changing the locks. I couldn’t believe it.

I was sofa surfing and occasionally staying on the floor a coffee shop where I was helping out.

I went to the GP for help and they could see that I was struggling, I was referred to a course of counselling in Bedwas which was good. The support I got from my GP was great.

Following this, I had a call from Platfform [formerly Gofal] and had two of their staff come to my Dad’s house. They were a brilliant support and got me into a hostel. I didn’t want to go there to begin with but it ended up being fine. They had a communal TV room and a kitchen and a massive garden and I was able to help with the décor.

I then went into Platfform’s supported housing and have been making things there too. I’ve built an allotment where we grow vegetables and fruit. I’m always doing things in the flat too, I like to keep it tidy and have made my own bench for doing my woodwork.

The support I’ve had since being in this accommodation is tremendous.

I couldn’t face opening even one letter when I got here, as soon as I had a letter in my hand I would start shaking and filling up

My breathing would change and my body would go into a spasm. The staff knew what to do, they helped calm me down.

My support worker helped me realise that there was nothing worse than I already had received in a letter, nothing could hurt me any more than I had been hurt and I managed to open one which shocked me. I eventually opened more, sneakily going for the easier ones which my support worker cottoned onto and now I can open letters easily, I don’t even need to go to the office. This was a massive achievement for me.

I like to keep myself busy with any DIY or gardening. I turned a fallen branch into a bird bath when I arrived and it was the first time they had birds in the garden for years. I started building all sorts of things, a bench, some reindeers at Christmas time – people were even asking to buy them!

I love being outdoors in nature, digging the garden and grass for the veg patch. I keep in touch with my brother and ask him for his gardening tips. After talking to him this year we’ve had the reddest, biggest strawberries I’ve ever seen! I get my son to help in the garden too and I can see it helps encourage him and builds his confidence.

If it wasn’t for the help I’d had from the staff at this office I don’t know where I would be today. I think it’s important to remember that there are always people out there who will listen and offer support. I’d say don’t be scared or too proud to seek support, there are so many options available; phone helplines or visit citizens advice bureau for example. Don’t let the problems get to far out of hand like I did. I’ve learned to be honest with the people that I seek support from, and I don’t feel embarrassed anymore, they are there to help and now I can accept this.