Poetry, pals and a place to stay

| Care and Support

Steven has learnt to manage his schizophrenia, grow in confidence and think of the future at the Metropolitan home he shares in Hertfordshire

Steven Winton

Steven was in his late teens when he realised something was wrong.

“I was very withdrawn,” he explains. “I had lost my mum, which was difficult. That was definitely a contributory factor.”

Steven was hospitalised for two months and diagnosed with schizophrenia – a disorder that has affected his life ever since.

“I hear voices,” he says, “and I get low in mood, but the medication makes me feel a lot better.”

Leaving hospital, he spent 18 months in mental health rehab. From there, he moved from service to service, receiving varying levels of support for different spans of time.

Whenever he lived alone, however, loneliness closed in and the voices returned. “I need to have people around me,” he says.

Willian Way – part of Metropolitan’s Letchworth mental health scheme, which comprises a number of different services in the Hertfordshire town – offered the ideal solution.

Asteven winton floating support service for three adults with mental health needs, it is a small group home in the Letchworth community. Support staff are there regularly, while help is always close at hand.

“It’s always positive here,” says Steven. “Amy [Oakes, the Letchworth scheme team manager] and her staff are really encouraging and I feel more confident opening up to them. I don’t hide things, as I did before.

“There’s always someone to talk to, something to do and people to socialise with. It’s a good place.”

He has also gained day-to-day living skills, like shopping, cooking, dealing with finances and claiming benefits.

Feeling stronger and better-prepared, Steven left Willian Way after three years to live in a flat in Hitchin, but that didn’t work out. “It was a really nice flat, but I went from having support to seeing nobody,” he explains. He returned, in mid-2013, to Willian Way, where he has lived ever since.

Whenever his illness threatens a return, he alerts staff and employs a variety of coping techniques. In particular, he writes poetry.

“That’s a big help and a big distraction,” says Steven, who also follows football, goes to the cinema, plays video games, listens to music and spends time with his family.

He plans to do some voluntary work, has ideas for new hobbies and is considering sharing a flat with his friend, Kyle, in the future.

“My mental health has definitely improved here,” he says. “I feel like it’s under control and I know how to spot the signs before it gets worse.”