“My private landlord’s home was repossessed and because there was no housing available for us, my son and I were put into a hostel in Poole. At night when the staff went home the place was full of drug taking and the threat of violence.

We were there for six months. I was petrified and sank into a deep depression. After seeking advice from Shelter I was referred to BCHA which quickly provided us with supported housing and a support worker. We were offered BCHA accommodation for three years and the weight off my shoulders was huge.

BCHA also gave us a support worker Carmela Richmond who literally guided me back to a life of hope. Carmela helped me get counselling after a diagnosis of PTSD and depression and showed me I wasn’t failing my son as I feared. I was also able to get practical help to apply for council housing.

After three years my BCHA lease ran out, but the council told me the property I was due to move into still wasn’t ready – thankfully BCHA gave me another six months until it was, or I could have been right back at square one.

BCHA Employment Engagement Officer Charli Cowley also helped me to train through the New Directions programme and apply for a job I love, working full time as a painter and decorator for BCHA’s social enterprise arm New Leaf Repairs.

I wake up glad to be alive, excited to go to work and thankful for what has been done for me by BCHA. My son and I are now in a council property. Our home.

I am off all my medication and am proud to be paying my bills as well as providing a stable and happy life for my son – giving back what I have received.”

Rachel’s piece of advice for Changemakers:

“Don’t be frightened to ask for help if you’re struggling with mental health. It may seem hopeless, but there are people out there who can help you get back on the road to happiness.”