Elif Balci, Project Coordinator
As a Stepping Stones Project Coordinator I have observed that most of our clients have really struggled to deal with their benefit issues and understand the complex benefit system. They also face a number of different issues such as homelessness, debt problems and so on. This has a negative impact on their mental wellbeing and causes extreme stress and anxiety, while many have already been experiencing some kind of physical and mental health issues.
At Stepping Stones we address these issues.
In the last six months we helped 42 clients within 10-12 week programmes to support them in multiple aspects of their lives. This includes accessing local services, developing life skills, tackling complex debt problems, helping themto apply for small grants to settle into their new accommodation, employment training, budgeting and debt management skills. We have facilitated three client workshops to support them with stress management, communication skills, money management and CV writing and finding voluntary work.
For example Mary is just one of the Stepping Stones clients we have worked with. Here she powerfully expresses how her life has changed with the support she received. I hope Mary`s story will motivate and inspire other clients as well.
Helping me find my direction and to keep going
Mary, Z2K client
I broke mentally on 7 January 2016 and have had an ongoing fight with severe anxiety and depression ever since. I do my best not to jump out of the window from my top floor home. Without help from Stepping Stones, Z2K and others who have shown me kindness and consideration, I wouldn’t be here.
I have attended Stepping Stones Project stress workshop and have received CV guidance. I am also being referred for help with my debt problems and have started saving a little bit of money each month via a credit union.
The greatest help at the moment is the practical advice provided to cope with the horrors of ESA tribunal. Facing this tribunal is a terrifying experience for me.
I also have a number of physical/mobility problems, so learning to take my time and not rush is one of the most positive aspects of being helped by Stepping Stones. They provide different types of advice including budgeting, food, holistic support and setting realistic goals.
A little bit at a time is now my strategy. It is essential that I have time every day for me – to stop, to listen to music, read a book, sit in the park. I haven’t done this for decades, no wonder I broke.
Stepping Stones have been good listeners to me and are helping me develop a structure for my ramblings. I have been so confused and exhausted and I am now very slow cognitively.
My heart knows I have to be self-employed when I am well enough, so I can contribute when I can but also be able to hide safely on my bad days. I look forward to become self-employed when I am ready.