In a clients own words, his experience of BHT’s Archway Project:
I just want to take a couple of minutes to describe my time at the Archway and my journey through it.
My journey has been a physical one in that I have moved from high to low support. It has also been a personal journey of recovery from poor mental health, drug use and hospital admissions to a place where I am taking responsibility and control, making better choices and planning for and looking forward to the future.
Before I arrived at the project my life was a mess. My mental health was poor and the voices in my head made me drink and do drugs. To fund my habit I stole from people and from shops. I did not care about my health and abused my body with drink and drugs.
When I moved into the Archway care home I felt reassured by the term “care home” and with the idea that I would be cared for, helped, advised and supported throughout the day. Because of the intensive advice and support I received I gradually came to realise that I was making the wrong choices – choices that did not make things better.
As well as support from the Archway staff, I also had support from the Assertive Outreach Team and began to take an active part in developing my support plan by taking part in key work sessions and CPA meetings with my care coordinator and psychiatrist. Through this work I developed the ability to accept that I had an illness, that I needed to get the right treatment and accept help from support workers.
At the care home I was able to improve my mental health and my self-esteem. I felt stable, stronger in myself and ready to move on. I felt that others could trust me and I wanted to be more independent. When a place came up at an Archway supported house I was offered the chance to move to lower support and decided to accept it. I felt confident enough to do this because I would keep the same workers. I felt clear about what I needed to do to maintain my tenancy so I felt safe in moving.
I moved from the care home to my own bedsit. I felt more comfortable being in my own place, creating my own routines and taking responsibility. I enjoyed the freedom. I could get support when I needed it from people I was used to working with. When I felt troubled, I could phone staff, get support and reassurance and feel better but I had my own space and was living on my own.
Since moving to low support I’ve continued my voluntary work. I’ve started permitted paid work and I’m bidding for council or housing association flats. I’m no longer on a community treatment order and I am looking forward to leaving supported housing to live independently.
In the last year I feel that I have made a lot of progress. I am making better choices about who I see and I’m building a network of friends who don’t drink or use drugs. I’m filling my time with things that make me feel good about myself and I’m risking doing new things. I don’t know exactly where I’ll be in a year but I’m hoping for the best and looking forward to the future.
Thank you for listening.