Netty quit her job about eight years ago to live on a narrowboat with her husband. They planned to go off traveling; it was something they’d always dreamed about. At first, life was good, but soon the isolation started to get to her.
“I guess it was a breakdown, there was a suicide attempt. It was a gradual build up, I suppose. Then there was the break-up of my marriage. He tried his best but it wasn’t something he could cope with. I was self-medicating with alcohol and I heard about Oakleaf through the mental health services.”
Netty started to attend Oakleaf, which receives money raised through Red Nose Day to give people with mental health needs support and vocational training in upholstery. She also had counselling and got involved in Tai Chi lessons at the project. The support was invaluable.
“It was just something to look forward to in the week, and just keep me going. It was all quite hazy at the start, but it was somewhere to be initially. At lunchtime you got to go up and sit in the canteen and just generally get to know people that way. It was a huge comfort to know people had similar backgrounds and understood.”
Netty is now employed by Oakleaf, one day a week, in the upholstery team. Other service users can call on her if they‘re stuck and she’s in a much healthier, happier place. And, most importantly, looking forward to her future again.
“There is a future now, that’s the difference. And I want to be a part of it and I want to move on. Working here is lovely, and meeting other people. And for them it’s helpful to know that my reasons for being here are similar to theirs.”
People experiencing mental ill health can be some of the most vulnerable in the community. Oakleaf uses Red Nose Day cash to provide vocational training that offers a positive focus in a supportive environment, enabling people to rebuild their lives and move towards the workplace.