We are 80

A woman talks to camera - Valerie

We've turned 80 and to celebrate, we’ve been travelling up and down the country meeting clients, customers and colleagues to hear some inspirational stories and memories.

Reflecting on the past

Customers and clients from the north and south of the country reflect on what home life was like over half a century ago…
“Houses were typical upstairs, downstairs houses. We used to have to take a bucket to the backyard and fill the bucket then carry it back upstairs.”
“I used to help my dad saw wood and chop it up for fire wood to light a fire. You had these black grates in those days to light the fire in the morning to boil the kettle up because you had no electricity.”
“The coalman used to come round in those days. It got a bit dirty with the coal and cleaning the grates and getting the ashes out.”
“My husband was a coalman but he couldn’t stick it for very long because it was in the winter and he had no hot water in the morning. So he used to get a bowl and warm the kettle and have a strip wash in the kitchen!”
“I had a gas oven and a nice big kitchen. I loved baking.”

Celebrating the present

Supporting Ann’s journey to independence

Since moving to Aviary House, life has become brighter for Ann. With regular trips to the gym, family visits and a new study programme at college, things have started to look up. Ann said: “I moved into Aviary House in a ground floor mews flat and I think there should be more flats like this. Since I moved here, my depression has got better. I’ve started to become happier, and I’m getting back to my old self.”

Ann has faced many challenges over the years, and has endured struggles with both her mental and physical health. “When I was 28 I had a nervous breakdown and it took me five or six years to recover. I was put on a lot of medication, diagnosed with anxiety and I also suffered slight breakdowns that resulted in hospital stays for short periods. In 2000, I suffered cardiac failure, but I recovered and went home to my husband. However, three years later, I became very poorly, ended up back in hospital and parted from my husband, who I loved very much.” Ann’s husband, a fireman, then retired and they lost the house that they were living in, as it was tied to his job with the fire brigade. Ann added “They gave us three months to leave, so my husband went his way and I was put in a halfway house for a year.”

Ann spent the next few years in supported flats and nursing homes, and these years were some of Ann’s loneliest. She said: “Because I’m one of 14 children, I felt lonely. I was in one nursing home for three years with no visitors other than the social worker. I was a very unhappy person there.”

Finally, Ann moved into Aviary House, where residents enjoy a balance between support and independence. Ann explained: “I go to bed feeling safe and the security is good as there are staff here 24/7. I do get support for breakfast, lunch and dinner but I do most things independently. Staff support me when I want to go shopping, and there’s a big activity room where we can go and have coffee. We also have regular outings and there’s a forum run by the staff that we can take part in.”
“Since I moved I feel Aviary House has given me opportunities to do something with my life. It’s been hard work but I’ve enjoyed every minute and I never thought I would. I’ve been reunited with my family and I’ve changed and feel worthy again. And I’m surrounded by people who care about me.”

Looking forward to the future – Driving towards independence

Getting your own flat, passing your driving test and landing your first job – three things that symbolise independence - and 18 year old Paige is looking forward to making all three a reality in 2016.
Paige is a shining example to anyone who feels that their hopes and dreams are threatened by life’s challenges. She has helped look after her little sister, who has Downs Syndrome, supported her dad who has Bipolar and almost lost her life in a serious car crash, damaging nearly every bone in her body. Paige said “I had two bleeds on my brain, a fractured skull, fractured back, broken cheek bone, broken ribs, broken eye socket, fractured jaw and fractured neck. It was a life threatening situation that I almost didn’t make it out of”.

Against all the odds, and with support from her family and sheer determination, Paige made it out of hospital and found a place to live at Venture House, a Home Group service. Paige explained: “I used to live with my mom, but my little sister needed a sensory room so I offered to stay with my dad. Living with my dad was very challenging as he has bipolar and it was getting worse. Before the accident happened, I attended an interview with Home Group and left waiting to hear about a space to stay.”

The crash happened shortly after her meeting. However, just five days after leaving hospital, Paige received a call saying that there was a space for her. She said: “It was great. I was able to give my dad the space that he needed at last. I picked up the keys went back to work the day after.”

Paige is now working at Aviary House, another Home Group service, and still lives at Venture House, however things may be changing in the near future: “I am ready to leave and move into a permanent place, and will be nominated as soon as possible for my own flat. I will never be able to express what Home Group has done for me, and what it can do for others.”

After years of difficult challenges and a terrifying accident, Paige is now at a place where life feels good again and she is looking forward to a bright future. She said: “I will have my own permanent home soon and my driving test is coming up as well. My little sister can see and hear and is learning to interact, I get support from my brothers and sisters, am still close to my mom and my dad is back to being my caring, loving dad again. My life and future looks completely amazing and bright. All I can say is, thank you Stonham!”