Mary’s story

It’s the help and the confidence that they give you which makes the difference and I feel a lot safer and a lot happier.

Before I came to Chepstow Villas, I’d been evicted from my home and been put into temporary accommodation. I then had to move as the council decided that I had made myself intentionally homeless, even though I hadn’t.

We moved in with my daughter but there wasn’t enough space for me and my 16 year old son. My health was also getting worse as I had two heart attacks and I was in and out of hospital. After the first heart attack, my stomach wouldn’t absorb anything and I would go into A&E every couple of weeks to go on a drip. I was very weak and muddled.

I went to this place that was like a drop in centre and they sent me to Chepstow Villas on health grounds. Luckily my son could stay with my daughter.

When I first came into the service I was 6 ½ stone as I was still having problems eating. I was scared to eat as before, as my stomach had not been able to absorb many things. However, since being here, I’ve put on loads of weight as they got me interested in food again. They have a cooking session where you go to Portebello market to choose the food and then people would take turns choosing what they want to cook.

They’ve also helped me with paper work, like with my housing benefit and they help me remember things like hospital appointments and remind me to take my medication, as I tend to forget. It’s the help and the confidence that they give you which makes the difference and I feel a lot safer and a lot happier.

Since my mobility has worsened, my key worker has put me in touch with social services who pay for a carer to come in and do my washing, pop to the shops and clean the floor. The also arranged for me to have a mobility scooter and to have a swimming pass for the leisure centre. The swimming should help my muscles as they feel like bricks some days. Before I moved here I didn’t know I was entitled to things like a freedom pass or a taxi card.

There’ll be a point soon when I’ll need to move into different housing as I’ll need somewhere where there’s no stairs. I’m waiting for social services to finish their assessments and after that I can start looking.

I was worried about being on the streets as I had no money. I couldn’t afford to live where we were living and I couldn’t afford to put a deposit down. I couldn’t have stayed at my daughter’s house as there was no room. There were six people living in a two bedroom flat.

For me, it’s all about security. When I came here, my immediate thought was ‘oh there’s a bed, I can lie in a bed’.

You feel like you’ve come in from the cold and it’s that feeling of being safe.

Most people here are vulnerable and having staff here who are helpful and have a friendly face makes you feel so much better in yourself. They get you back on track.

I don’t know where I’d be if I didn’t have the help and support that I get here. There’s a great need and I think there should be more supported housing, not less.