My name is Joe. I have been in and out of hospital, due to mental health problems for some time. I had been staying in an outreach hospital for 4 months, when my consultant and key worker supported me to investigate supported living environments.

My key worker and I had looked around for service providers who cater in supported living and would meet my needs. Supported Independence was one service contacted, a meeting was set up with a manager to visit me at Lodge Causeway. I then came to look around Supported Independence, I liked the setup and then I decided to have a trial stay over a weekend at a house to see how I felt before committing myself. I enjoyed my weekend stay and 2 weeks later, I moved in.

I was asked by support staff what I liked about living here I said it was a relaxed atmosphere and liked the opportunities this would give me to lead a more independent life.

What do I feel I have achieved since my move to Supported Independence?

Before moving to Supported Independence, I had only lived briefly on my own in a flat. I couldn’t cope as I didn’t take my recommended dose of medication on a regular basis, which impacted on my mental health. I also didn’t do anything in the flat or have any social inclusion, which made me worse.

Since my move to Supported Independence, I have learnt: cooking; domestic; social; educational; shopping; and communication skills. I am also supported by staff with other activities that I need or want to do. I am more confident to the point where I can complete these tasks on my own and liaise with fellow housemates if they do not keep our house clean and tidy.

My budgeting skills have improved due to my budget plan, which I am supported to maintain. I am now able to pay my bills out of my bank account and save my money for holidays etc.

I am now administering my medication without support and I feel confident to do this knowing, staff will support me if any concerns arise. I also realise the importance of my medication and the consequences of not taking it.

Since starting with Supported Independence, I have gained an NVQ level 1 in gardening maintenance & English literature. I also attend college every week to do recycling, maths and art, which I really enjoy. In the past, I have worked in charity shops and I am investigating this line of volunteer work again.

I have made good friends within Supported Independence and been given the opportunity to go on holidays abroad. I have been to Turkey twice, Spain once and a couple of camping trips, which I would never have done if I had he been living on my own.

How do you feel the staff have supported you?

I have been supported by staff to learn new skills and achieve success on my road to independence. I still need support to improve my confidence and assertiveness and to engage with outside agencies, so my personal goals are met.

Where do I see myself in the future?

I moved into to a smaller Supported Independence house in February 2008. This is a stepping stone towards living independently. My future plan is to live in my own 2 or 3 bedroom premises and share the accommodation with friends, as I enjoy company and feel secure with fellow housemates around me.

I would still require floating support from staff once I have moved, mainly to ensure all is well with me and to support me with any concerns that may arise. This future goal will give me complete independence to live the life I choose. I will also look at the opportunity to expand my horizons with either voluntary or paid employment in the future.