“There is light at the end of the tunnel”

Lorraine used to need support with her mental health… now she is the one supporting other people.

A severe mental health episode led to Lorraine spending an extended spell in hospital. She returned home but felt unable to socialise with others.

“I stopped going out on my own because I was worried that people would judge me because of my mental health.”

Lorraine’s mental health support worker suggested she try a weekly cookery group run by Swale Your Way.

“I was nervous to go, but everyone was welcoming and it felt good to be a part of something. I began feeling like part of the community again.”

Lorraine’s confidence grew and she joined another Swale Your Way board game group.

Things were going well, but a few years later Lorraine suffered a health setback. Upon returning home, she once again felt unable to leave her flat.

“I could go to the front door and unlock it, but in my mind it still felt as though the door was locked.”

This time, Porchlight – another member of the Live Well Kent network – was able to help. It runs a service for people who feel isolated and cut off from others.

“They sent a support worker Kim, who met with me at my flat. At first she drove me to a nearby café and back, but we began taking bigger and bigger steps as the weeks went on.”

With Kim’s help, Lorraine was eventually able to begin doing things by herself again.

She re-joined Swale Your Way and took a course about methods of managing your mental health.

Now, Lorraine is running a Swale Your Way mental health group that supports people in similar situations.

“The people I support are always thankful and say I’ve cheered them up. Knowing I’ve been able to help people brightens my day.”

Lorraine is also studying qualifications related to mental health support. She would like to become a mental health professional.

“I’ve come a long way. If anyone is in a similar situation to mine, I would like to tell them there is light at the end of the tunnel.”