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“Lauren helped me go back to work” – Rosalind talks about her social worker’s impact

Rosalind’s story

Rosalind is 58 years-old, has emotionally unstable personality disorder and depression, and is profoundly deaf. Rosalind started working with Think Ahead participant Lauren in December 2016.

My adoptive mother died six years ago, she was 101 years old. I got very poorly, I was up and down for years. When I was feeling unwell I wouldn’t sleep properly, I couldn’t eat properly and I lost lots of weight. I felt numb – I would walk about doing nothing or stay in bed all day. At times I got a bit better for a little while but then I’d get unwell again.

Last year I tried to take my own life by taking lots of tablets. I ended up in hospital for a few months, and had to have six months off from my job working at a supermarket.

A little while after I left hospital I started working with Lauren. I have been able to trust Lauren and I’ve been able to talk to her.

Lauren has helped me to find things to do that make me happy.

Lauren has helped me to find things to do that make me happy. I joined a walking club and have been on walks around the park and to the British Museum. I love knitting so I’ve also joined a knitting club and I’ve knitted blankets that I’ve donated to a homeless charity. And recently I’ve started going to a Women’s Club where I play bingo and go dancing. It’s great to get out and meet people – that makes me feel better.

Lauren has also helped me go back to work. She came with me to visit an Occupational Health Therapist who made recommendations. Lauren came with me to a meeting with my employers before I went back to work to make sure they followed the recommendations. I like being back at work, everyone knows me there.

I am much happier since working with Lauren, I have a lot more laughter, and I don’t feel worried any more.

Lauren’s story

Lauren is a Think Ahead participant working in Waltham Forest. She joined Think Ahead’s first intake in July 2016.

Before joining the Think Ahead programme I had a few different jobs – including in the probation service – where I worked with people with mental health problems. But I wanted to be able to support people more holistically, stand up for them and help them in the long run. I realised that mental health social work was a good way to do this.

I’ve really been on a journey during my first year of the programme. It’s rigorous and challenging and hard work – but the mixture of academic and practical work has stood me in good stead and, although I’ve still got lots to learn, I can see that I’ve really enhanced my skills and grown in confidence.

When I first met Rosalind she had just come out of hospital and in our first meeting she hardly talked, she just nodded. She was given medication which helped but it was only one piece of the puzzle – in my role I’ve been able to help her in lots of ways.

Over time I have helped boost Rosalind’s self-esteem using a technique called motivational interviewing. I’ve got Rosalind to focus on her good qualities and her strengths. Rosalind is a very motivated and determined person.

Helping Rosalind get back to work was really important – it’s helped her feel like herself again, and get back her independence.

Helping her get back to work was really important – it’s helped her feel like herself again, and get back her independence. But it was a challenging thing to do. I organised an appointment with an Occupational Health Therapist for Rosalind to get some recommendations about staying well when she returned to work. And I attended a meeting with Rosalind’s employer to ensure they were putting her needs first. Rosalind is profoundly deaf and can’t understand lots of people talking at once – at one point I had to intervene and pause the meeting to ensure that Rosalind understood what was being said, and to make sure that everyone spoke to her directly, one at a time.

I also wanted to make sure she felt safe in her home, and her hearing impairment means she can’t hear a normal smoke alarm, so I arranged for the fire brigade to come round and install a specialist fire alarm under her pillow.

Finding the walking club, knitting group and Women’s Club have also helped Rosalind to feel more connected to her community.

I’ve really noticed a difference in Rosalind in the time that we’ve been working together. Since we first met, she’s become much more chatty and has started taking care of herself. Her family tell me that they can see a real difference. But most importantly, Rosalind tells me I’ve made a difference and thanks me. Being able to see a real difference in someone that I’m working with is a really great feeling.