With schools, businesses and charities nationwide holding events to mark ‘Time to Talk Day’, the annual awareness day to get people talking about mental health, a Chester woman with mental health needs is helping promote that understanding by sharing her own story.
One in four people will face a mental health problem at some point in their life and since it launched three years ago the Time To Talk campaign has sparked millions of conversations.
Hannah Williams, now aged 20, said: “My childhood wasn’t the best, and due to difficulties at home I moved out when I was only sixteen.
“I started off staying at my friend’s house for a week, and then I was taken into care homes and supported living up to the age of 17.
“While I was in the care system I went off the rails and started drinking heavily and self-harming, and I became suicidal. This meant I got detained under the Mental Health Act and spent time in a variety of secure settings which were horrible – I never want to do that again.
“When I got discharged off my section, my care coordinator offered me a variety of flats and supported living settings and I chose Tarvin Road near Chester.
“I feel like I hit the jackpot moving here, I’m really happy to have my own tenancy agreement as I have never had one before and it gives me security, stability, and my own home instead of a hospital. I’d be lost if I left here.
“The staff are very supportive and very caring and generous, they help me as much as I need help, and they’re always there if I need to talk and will always listen to me and help me.
“They also give me time and space when I want it, and encourage me to continue with my hobby, which is dancing. I have won two trophies and a medal for dance and really enjoy it.
“I now look back at the past but I don’t stare at it too long, then it doesn’t affect me. I feel free now to be me.”
Victoria Ramage, who leads the team at Tarvin, said: ”Hannah was the very first tenant to move into Tarvin, which is a newly-opened supported living service for adults with learning difficulties, mental health needs, Asperger’s or autism, including additional complex needs.
“She’s settled in so well, and it’s great to see how her self-confidence and self-esteem is blossoming.”
Regard, the organisation behind Tarvin, provides supported living and residential services for people with learning disabilities, mental health needs and acquired brain injury, and cares for more than 1,100 people, with a dedicated staff of over 2,200 across 148 locations throughout the UK.
Just one vacancy now remains at the service, and Tarvin has been so positively received by local care managers that Regard is already exploring the possibility of developing further services of the same kind in the area in the near future.
Each of Tarvin’s three bedrooms has an en-suite bathroom, and there is also a self-contained first-floor flat and two ground-floor flats – one of which is wheelchair-accessible – a number of large internal communal areas, and spacious grounds.
The staff team focuses on promoting independence, supporting individuals to find employment opportunities and providing background support for those who can be more independent. They are experienced in managing complex and challenging behaviours.