Julie Cowan is a SAFE Support Worker for Trivallis’ SAFE team, her role involves working with people aged 50 and over to help them to remain living independently in their homes.
In March, Julie was introduced to Janice Clark who was going through an incredibly difficult time following the passing of her husband at the beginning of January 2018.
“I love my job because of the difference you see in the person from when you first start working with them to when the support ends and they feel more confident to do things themselves,” explained Julie.
“When I first met Janice she couldn’t look me in the eye, I could tell she found it difficult to trust people.
“She also suffered from agoraphobia and wouldn’t leave the house, at one point she hadn’t left the house for four years – which is actually one of the reasons I became involved.”
Following a few conversations with her local GP, Janice was referred to the Mental Health team who focused on her mental wellbeing. They recognised Janice could benefit from additional help which is why they contacted Trivallis’ SAFE team to see what they could offer.
“At the time, Janice was living in a private rented home and wasn’t being treated fairly by her landlord; particularly after the death of her husband,” said Julie.
On top of this, the benefits Janice received meant she had to attend appointments and assessments in order to get the money. However, because of her condition and the panic attacks it caused; it became incredibly challenging for her sister-in-law Serenna.
“Trying to get Janice out of the house was like murder,” explained Serenna. “In the end it was up to me to go and get the right information so that Janice had the money to pay her bills.”
When Julie started working with Janice she was able to look at her finances and maximise her benefits making sure she no longer needed to attend appointments to get her money, she set-up personal independence payments and also organised housing benefit and council tax reductions for Janice.
In addition to this she helped to move Janice into a better, more suitable home where she can continue to live independently but is also able to socialise with her neighbours if she wants too.
“I can’t believe I’m myself,” said Janice. “I love this place and I’m getting to know the other women that live here;, they even bought me a few gifts for my birthday.
“It’s been really upsetting at times but I can’t believe how much I’ve done and how much Julie has helped me.
“My mental health struggles have finally been recognised whereas in the past nobody was there for me, years ago support like this wasn’t available and I felt really alone.”
Over the last six months Janice’s confidence has grown and she’s finally able to do things that she struggled to do, simple everyday tasks that before seemed like a real challenge like taking the bins out each week and spending time in her garden.
Even though Julie no longer supports Janice she said: “We’ll always be here if you’ve ever got any problems but you don’t need me anymore – you’re where you need to be.”
According to Age UK, half of adults aged 55 and over have experienced mental health problems in their life time. Don’t suffer in silence, our SAFE team can work with anyone living in RCT to build confidence, make new friends, learn new skills, budget and help you to see what other support is available to suit your personal needs.
To get in touch with the team today email SupportingPeopleTeam@rctcbc.gov.uk or call 01443 424005.