Lara’s story

“This is the first time I’ve had my own place, as I was living with my mum before I was admitted to hospital. I’ve learnt how to do food shopping, budgeting and managing my flat. I feel empowered."

Lara, 25, was at college when she started experiencing mental health problems. She had to drop out and was admitted to hospital when her condition got worse. Lara has schizoaffective mood disorder.

“It means my mood changes a lot,” says Lara. “One day I might be really upset and the next day I’ll be overly happy and hyper.”

After five months in hospital she was referred to East Thames’ mental health scheme Scott Court in September 2015. The scheme is made up of self-contained flats and provides support to five people with mental health issues. During their time there, staff support people to build the confidence and skills they need to move on to independent living.

Supported accommodation can be a crucial step in helping people to recover from mental illness. Lara believes that things would have been very different for her if she hadn’t had the chance to comes to terms with her illness and learn essential life skills before moving on to live independently.
Lara says: “I don’t think I would be as confident and independent as I am if I hadn’t come to Scott Court. My support workers have encouraged me and helped motivate me. If I’d gone straight out into the community after being in hospital I think I would have just been staring at four walls. I would have been quite scared.”

Lara has now started her move on process which means she’ll soon be living independently. She is keen to become a beauty therapist and has enrolled in a six month course at the London School of Beauty on Oxford Street.

Lara says: “I have a much better understanding of my mental issues now. I tell people I meet that I have this condition and they accept it. I’m just like any normal human being! I have an illness and I just have to adapt to it.

I’ve come so far since I first arrived here. Now I’ve started my move on process I’m looking forward to having my own place, making new friends and starting my life again.”

Help raise awareness

Thousands of people have gained their independence through supported housing. The Starts at Home campaign aims to ensure that people who need extra support will always have a home that meets their needs.

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