My first worker was assigned to me in January 2018. Three Rivers District Council and my physical health were compounding my Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and triggering depression. Scared that I’d take my own life in order to relieve myself of my anguish, I’d found them online and referred myself to the charity for support with my housing.

Every day was a struggle. My head was busy convincing me that I was a sick animal who was only being spared the chop because it amused the gods to see me attempt the daily necessities.

At first, it didn’t register. I was not seeing the difference Amy was making. It was months before I was able to view time with perspective. I was so lost when she first arrived, I can’t actually recall it.

Amy had managed to get me out of the house and help me start seeing things to be interested in again. She also helped when they removed my disability benefit by agreeing to come to the appeal court with me and helping with all the forms and communication.

Amy encouraged me to be more social. Not social in my old way, but something new, a different social life for my current abilities. I managed to view some suitable homes and finally exchanged to a flat where I could access a full bathroom with a bath rather than just a sink. Amy supported me and gave me the encouragement to make the move I had desperately needed.

Her popping around to see me once a week, ensured that I did the simple things, at least once a week. I would brush my hair, clean the toilet and the kitchen. Things I wouldn’t have bothered doing just for myself – at that time. I started to order my medication on time and be more organised.

Watching her burst through my front door each week was something to look forward to. Her hair and face were always perfectly made up and she wore clean, nice and modern clothes. It reminded me of what it was to live life well. I would feel embarrassed that my wardrobe now consisted of jogging pants and sweaters.

Things started well in my flat, it being all on one level meant I could access every room.

Unfortunately, I was then a victim of nasty verbal barrage. Some woman decided that I deserved her hatred. I’d walked around the block. A lady, having previously seen me in my wheelchair, decided I must have cheated the council.

Shouting loudly at me, out in the street. She called me a liar. I tried to tell her I’d downsized, giving up my three-bed home for the two-bed flat but she was determined to give me a piece of her mind. It scared me and I became anxious to leave the flat.

The same week Amy said she would be leaving Herts Mind Network to continue important aspects of her study at a hospital placement. I would be allocated another worker. Amy was exceptionally nice and I knew I’d miss her intelligence and insight. We’d had such great chats when she wished me well, I truly believed it was meant.

It was a terrible time for me again. There had been a mix up with the Universal Credit system and although nothing other than my address had changed, my benefits had been stopped. I was desperate for assistance and food.

Whilst waiting for a payment to come I had to visit the landlord for a voucher for a food bank. Then my landlord put an Eviction Notice on me. I considered suicide, I considered worse. Thankfully it was a short wait before gaining assistance again and when Herts Mind provided me with another worker, it couldn’t have been more welcomed.

Nadia bounced into my flat. Immediately she recognised the urgency and looked into my rent account. She calmed me down and understanding the situation communicated with the landlord on my behalf, reminding them that I was a vulnerable person and they shouldn’t be threatening me with eviction.

Then she sat with me and went through all the calculations. Her outrage on my behalf really helped, she didn’t try and make it out to be my fault or threaten me like the landlord had. Nadia continually told me not to worry and that she would help me.

Her support was friendly, consistent and professional. Although my rent was paid directly from Universal credit to Watford Community Housing Trust the monies had not been allocated to my rent account. It was looking like I was in heavy arrears, but I wasn’t.

I owed £74. The land lord said I owed £1,358. Nadia agreed with me. I recall feeling so relieved. She called them and told them to stop calling me demanding monies and she organised a meeting between us all so that the rent accounts could be sorted out properly.

My marvellous worker got to work over the next few weeks. She dealt with the Universal Credit people, the PIP appeal and then met up with my Housing Association landlord. Unfortunately, they couldn’t remove the eviction order, but they promised to not enforce it if I were to agree a payment plan for £74. We counted it as a win. The landlord was never going to admit a misallocation of funds.

This helped my feelings of security and helped me feel less anxious about people trying to remove me from my home. Before long Nadia informed me that I had been with Herts Mind Network for over a year and I had come a long way - the time for discharge had come. 

As my mental health treatment still had not started Nadia seemed genuinely reserved at discharging. As I had a friend staying with me for a while, I insisted I was okay and agreed to the discharge. In my mind it was time for her to help others.

My home actually saves me every day as the view is outstanding and I now write poems and short stories for a blog to help keep me sane. Writing has become my therapy. The flat environment is light and airy and helps me see clearly. I suspect it helps with my vitamin D levels too.

I’m eternally grateful to Herts Mind Network for helping me and listening to me. Understanding what I needed from a home rather than what the council wanted for me. Both Amy and Nadia were helpful and professional towards me. Nadia could talk the hind legs off a donkey and was a lot of fun and Amy is classy and smart. Both did their job well and I’d look forward to their visits and valued their advice. Amy got me to this wonderful flat and Nadia helped me keep it. Their role in my mental health wellbeing cannot be underestimated.

Lifelines like Herts Mind Network are so necessary in the UK. I was able to access this service via the internet which was a good idea because I’d asked my GP and Adult Mental Health Services for assistance with the housing and neither had been able to help me.

Without Herts Mind Network’s timely help, I would have been either carrying on racking up debt for rent in a house inaccessible to me or evicted from my new one for spurious reasons. The risk I was facing of causing harm to myself was an awful situation because I would not be here for my children and grandchildren. I cannot thank the workers enough.

*All names and images have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals