Some of our customers give us an insight into their lives and the support they receive from Metropolitan.
In 1999, Adrian got a stark warning from his GP. Carry on the way he was and he was unlikely to survive another two years.
“He said my prospects were dire, but that was a long time ago,” says Adrian. “It was a wake-up call that led to me improving my life in every way.”
He had been unwell for years, but had ignored the voices and delusions that frequently disrupted his wellbeing.
“I hadn’t sought medical intervention,” he admits. “I used alcohol and recreational drugs, such as cannabis and heroin, as medication, which made me worse.
“I sought help when I gave up drink; I was finally prepared to help myself, I guess.”
He was diagnosed with schizophrenia and prescribed medication. “Generally speaking, I’ve been feeling a lot better ever since,” he says.
But he needed to escape an environment where alcohol and illegal drugs were the dominant force.
He moved in with his younger sister, whose research led her to Metropolitan’s collection of mental health services in the Hertfordshire town of Letchworth.
Adrian’s social worker made a referral for him in 2005. At first, he lived at Blackmore – a floating support service for adults with mental health needs – before it was suggested that he might benefit from more intensive support.
He moved to Springshott, a round-the-clock supported housing service, where he has contact with staff on a daily basis.
“I get a lot of support here,” he says. “The staff help with many things. We eat a good diet and we’re encouraged to be clean and tidy, and to socialise.”
Adrian has a busy social calendar. He joined the local Methodist church club, for instance, where he goes twice a week. “It’s a nice venue and you get a good lunch,” he says.
He also enjoys regular visits to garden centres, walks in the countryside and trips to the cinema with his support worker.
“Coming to Letchworth has definitely improved my life,” he states. “In fact, it’s probably saved my life.”
Maggie lived with her Dad in Cambridge when she was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. After spending some time at Fulbourn Hospital she was discharged and came to Metropolitan’s Vicarage Terrace service for adults with mental health needs in July 2015.
“At my Dad’s I used to lie in bed and didn’t leave the house,” Maggie said. “I wasn’t looking forward to going to Vicarage Terrace but I knew it was something I had to do. It took about a month to settle in but the staff were awesome – so friendly and positive. There was always someone to talk to if I was feeling down or was having a bad day. They also helped me with practical things if I needed it, like help with shopping and taking me to doctor’s appointments.”
“While I was there, my support worker Emma was always helping me look at the next steps I should take. There were times when it felt like I’d been ill for so long and I felt really down. Everyone was so positive and reminded me of all the things I’d achieved, even if they were really small things”.
After she became pregnant in 2016, Maggie knew she would have to leave Vicarage Terrace, and her support worker helped her through her pregnancy and helped her prepare for independent living. In December 2016 she moved into a council house in Cambridge, shortly before the birth of her son Alfie in January.
“I knew I was ready to leave because by then I was back to my old self again but I wouldn’t have got there without everyone’s help. The support at Vicarage Terrace was amazing – they helped me find a new home, took me to doctor’s appointments, and they were great when I was dealing with all the pregnancy hormones and all I wanted was some chocolate!
“It’s lovely being a mum but it’s been strange going from where I was a few years ago – living with my Dad and not leaving the house – to living independently and having someone else to be responsible for. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done.”
While Maggie’s immediate focus is on her baby son, she also has plans for herself in the future: “Eventually I’d like to go back to college and get some qualifications. It would be great to do something that involves helping other people.”
William came to Langdon Park, one of Metropolitan’s services for people with learning disabilities, in February 2015. Luke Eronini was assigned as his key support worker, and helped William identify his personal goals as part of his support plan.
Luke said: “William is a friendly type and likes to try new things. He said he’d like to join the police so I helped him look into his options.”
After discovering that his local police station occasionally hired volunteers, with Luke’s help, William completed an application form for a voluntary position at the station in Kingston. In June 2016, William was invited to the station for an interview.
William said: “When my key worker told me about the interview, I was so happy. On my interview day I went with Luke my key worker. I answered the questions they asked me the best that I could. Luke helped to explain to me some of the questions I found more difficult.”
In July, William learnt he had passed the interview. As William’s key worker would have to accompany him while he settled in to the role, both he and Luke had to undergo comprehensive vetting for security clearance, a process which took several months. Luke said: “It was a long and detailed process but I was happy to do it to help give William a chance at getting the job.”
That November, William was told he and Luke had passed the vetting stage and had been invited to an induction day. William said: “I went with Luke and the volunteer manager explained the job to me and what I would be doing there – jobs like cleaning the police cars so they are ready to use by the police officers when they need them. They showed us around and we met other police officers in the different departments.”
Nine months after first sending off his application, in March 2017, William attended his first shift at the station.
Luke said: “The entire process has been great for William’s confidence and will teach him new skills. He feels fulfilled – he’s got somewhere he wanted to get in life and is very, very proud. For the timebeing I attend each shift with William but in the future perhaps he’ll be able to go by himself.”
William said: “I’m happy to have started my dream job.”
Manel lives in north west London in a sheltered scheme for older people, where residents have the opportunity to get involved in a wide range of activities from exercise classes, coffee mornings and music appreciation to games and art classes.
“My mother was poor, and my father left her. She went to a convent, where the sisters brought me up from a tiny baby and this was back in colonial times. They educated me well, and I count my blessings for this even now, because their education led me into nursing.
“I came to England from Sri Lanka in 1953 and I did an Orthopaedic nursing course in Exeter. I came here on a Colombo Plan scholarship, and for me, those were the really good old days. After studying I went back home and did a lot of Orthopaedic work, broken bones, hip joints, dislocations, fractures, and that kind of thing. I returned in 1975 and worked at the Royal Marsden hospital in Sutton.
“My favourite book is ‘Jane Eyre’ I just love it so much, and music does something to my very soul. I still go to the ballet, I love Swan Lake. I really enjoy ‘University Challenge’ and quizzes. As the saying goes ‘knowledge and ever greater knowledge’. My favourite season is Christmas. I like the carols and the food. Christmas is the best time of year. And my birthday is on Boxing day.
“I’ve been living here for 20 years, and it’s nice. It’s quiet, clean, and I am a stickler for cleanliness! The garden is nice the location has very accessible transport as well.
“And that’s the long and short of it really. Metropolitan has always been good to me, always very helpful. We are lucky here, to have accommodation like this and now we’re in a housing shortage crisis as well, I feel sorry for the young ones.”