Salwa’s Story: Annual Review 2021 – 2022
Manchester Mind has advice workers on in-patient units and within Community Mental Health Teams, in our Children and Young People’s service and they all deal with issues that can be simple through to complex but all involve listening and identifying what the main issue is for a person….
Salwa is receiving support from the community mental health team and she has a diagnosis of severe depression with psychotic episodes. Part of what she experiences is a great deal of anxiety, paranoia, confusion, thought disorder, agitation, and feelings of distress, along with other symptoms.
Salwa was living in temporary accommodation provided by Manchester City Council (MCC), following a successful homeless application. At a point before she was referred to our advice worker she had received a ‘part VI’ accommodation offer by MCC. This is an offer of permanent accommodation in the social housing sector. Great news. However, the property was a 1-bed flat, which would have been perfect for Salwa, except that it was on the first floor. Salwa felt very strongly she could not accept the flat because
she has a particular and severe anxiety around climbing stairs.
She explained how she often feels dizzy, tearful, and panicked after climbing stairs, and often these symptoms can last until the following day. In her current accommodation, a 2-storey house, she sleeps downstairs, instead of in the bedroom, in order to avoid climbing the stairs.
When she spoke to the council about this she was just informed that she must accept the property, and if she did not do so she would lose her housing duty – she would not be offered an alternative.
When our advice worker spoke to Salwa, she took time to understand the difficulties and the impact it would have on her mental health and the probability that she would become isolated and avoid going out. She was already distressed by the process. We agreed to try once more and explain what the impact would be and explore other alternatives. We asked if MCC would be willing to informally withdraw the offer, and allow Salwa to remain where she is until a more suitable property could be found. We made sure we gave a clear picture of the issues. After considering they responded and informed me they would be withdrawing the offer, and that a note would be placed on Salwa’s file stating that she should be offered a ground floor property when one becomes available. Salwa is now awaiting her new home to be allocated.
In comparison to some cases, this was a small and simple act but it had a massive impact.
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