Stepping Stones: success stories from our clients

Stepping Stones Coordinator Elif Balci describes clients' incredible achievements after engaging with our holistic support service

When Tom first came to see us he was very isolated. He was suffering from depression, struggling to manage his learning difficulties and restricted in his daily activities by a number of physical conditions.

He was referred to us by South West London Law Centre, the main partner in our Stepping Stones wraparound support project. As part of this project we help clients with multiple needs to access relevant services and support them to develop their financial and emotional resilience, through one-to-one sessions with our social work and psychology students. We aim to not only help clients meet their immediate goals, but also to make sure they are more empowered to meet future challenges and sustain positive outcomes over the longer term.

In our first meeting after the initial assessment, Tom and his Stepping Stones volunteer spoke about the priorities for him in terms of what would be most beneficial to focus on in the coming weeks. Having decided the goals together, they began to look at his options. By the end of this first hour Tom’s volunteer had contacted the local council to enlist an occupational therapist to assess his home and daily routine, made a referral to a counsellor and looked into some social groups for him to take part in.

Now as we are coming to the end of Tom’s 12-week programme with us, he is engaged in a regular social sports team suited to his physical issues, he has had a panic button installed in his house (as well as further work taking place) and he will shortly be seeing a counsellor with a view to getting regular long-term support. In just a few weeks, and with the help of his volunteer, Tom has taken huge steps towards a much happier, more sociable and stable life for himself.

By taking this holistic approach, we are able to help clients tackle both the immediate and the deeper, less obvious issues which are holding them back.

For example, Liam initially came to the Stepping Stones project because he had fallen into a large amount of debt with an energy company and was unable to pay. In addition to this however, he was lacking in social support and struggling to communicate with people. Liam had had an extremely difficult upbringing, having been in and out of foster care and eventually becoming homeless for a number of years once he came of age. The trauma he had experienced throughout his life had led to a wide range of issues which made it very difficult for him to engage with other people. Liam would become very anxious during our meetings, struggling to talk about himself and unable to make eye contact.

During our 12-week programme, Liam’s volunteer successfully obtained a grant of almost £2,000 to cover his debts and had a smart meter installed in his home so that, with our budgeting training, he could better manage the utility bills going forward.

Perhaps more impressively, however, Liam began to open up in our meetings and took steps to develop his self-confidence. With greater financial stability in place, and with regular sessions at Z2K helping him to grow more comfortable with other people, he was more able to tackle social challenges. He began to get in touch with his family and is now in contact with two of his siblings who he previously did not speak to. By providing a consistent and safe space for Liam, we saw him redevelop his ability to trust and open up to new experiences. Liam, Tom and all our other Stepping Stones clients are proof of what, with a little support, individual people can achieve.

n.b. client names have been changed for confidentiality

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