Real Life Story: The Fulfilling Lives project is changing lives

fulfilling-lives-logo_W220Fulfilling Lives, working in East Sussex, is one of 12 projects across England where Big Lottery Fund investment is supporting people with complex needs.  This will be a combination of mental ill health, addictions, offending behaviour, and homelessness.  BHT is the lead partner in the south east project, one of twelve funded by the Big Lottery and operating nationwide.

As well as supporting people, the funding will evidence more effective and efficient ways for designing, commissioning and delivering support services for this group in the future.

The purpose of this initiative is to bring about lasting change in how services work with people with multiple and complex needs; this funding is a vehicle to help bring about that change.

biglotterylogo_W300-220x125The legacy of the eight year programme will be that systems and services in all three geographical areas will better meet the needs of this group.

Here is an account of one client who has benefited from the Fulfilling Lives programme.

Before joining Fulfilling Lives Jane (not her real name) had received support from a number of services and workers but only for short periods of time. This was due to a mixture of the set number of sessions available and staff turnover. She explained that the longest time she had been with a single worker was eight weeks. Having to repeat her story to new people caused stress and anxiety and she felt it was a contributing factor to her continual relapses.

One of the ways that Jane’s specialist worker at Fulfilling Lives has been able to support her is by negotiating new ways of accessing services that would benefit her recovery. Previously Jane had become homeless after entering a detox programme because her room in supported housing was not retained while was in the programme. In effect, the system saw this decision as making herself intentionally homeless. In addition, Jane had previously not completed detox programmes as she was excluded due to her behaviour.

Through the advocacy of her specialist worker, Jane’s housing was retained whilst she entered a detox programme. Her worker regularly visited her during detox and was able to advocate for Jane with service staff by recalling information and discussions undertaken. This advocacy helped address Jane’s behavioural challenges while providing her with the support she needed through the detox process from someone who knew and understood her well.

Fulfilling Lives provided Jane with access to therapeutic support via Horse Therapy. Before therapy Jane was unable to get on buses, go shopping, visit busy places, wait in queues of more than four people or use stairs. The therapy has enabled her to deal with her anxiety, rationalise her fears and conduct mindfulness.

Jane has now successfully been part of Fulfilling Lives initiative for over a year. She has completed her detox, retained her supported housing and is successfully addressing her mental health issues.

For her, the Fulfilling Lives approach has provided her with freedom: She is now looking at volunteering for a gardening programme, finishing her A-level English and conducting further volunteering with animals. Her focus is to undertake activities that are not completely wrapped around recovery so that she can feel normal.

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