Alice; from multiple complex barriers to peer mentor
Lou, one of Konnects mentors has been working with Alice, a single mother of two young children (under 6 years), for the past 12 months to overcome a complex mix of challenges, the culmination of Lou’s support has enabled Alice to help others as a volunteer peer mentor.
As a teenager Alice was subjected to bullying, Alice self-harmed and had been the victim of Domestic Violence. Alice knew these traumatic experiences had affected her mental health and wellbeing but didn’t know how to move on.
Alice moved to Cornwall with her parents as a teenager. After moving to Cornwall Alice struggled to find a new friendship group and Alice did not have any friends in Cornwall other than her mum, dad, and a few family members.
Alice started drinking and taking drugs as a coping mechanism to being lonely. During this time, she met and started a relationship with her children’s father. At the beginning she thought it was a positive relationship, however this turned into an unstable and volatile relationship after her eldest son was born. Alice was subjected to Domestic Violence by her (then) partner and he also turned on their son; this is when Social Services first became involved with the family. When Alice’s youngest child was less than one year old, Social Services, along with the Police removed her partner from their home address and they have been separated since.
The Family Hub referred Alice to Konnect Communities in March 21; since that first meeting Lou has been working with Alice to support her to make ‘real change that lasts’.
Alice has been working with Konnect Communities to help her address her barriers and work towards her long-term goal of becoming a paramedic or working in health and social care. Together Lou and Alice have been looking at options for training and qualifications to enable her to achieve her career ambition.
As part of an agreed plan of action (between Alice and Lou) Alice enrolled onto Konnect’s Life Choices course which focusses on helping clients (amongst other things) to improve their anxiety, self-confidence, self-esteem, self-worth and help participants to achieve their aspirations.
For Alice to be able to attend the Life Choices course, Lou and Alice had to look at childcare options to enable Alice to attend and take part in Life Choices (which is addressed in later).
Alice had become adept at hiding her emotions and how she was feeling. To communicate with Alice, Lou found she had to adapt her approach and the way in which she would ask her client questions. With perseverance and ongoing contact Lou was able to build trust, respect and confidence with Alice enough to get Alice to open up and confide in her.
So that Alice could attend the Life Choices course Lou had to address the following challenge: –
- Stabilise Alice and encourage her to open-up about her potential and future. Lou met with Alice regularly to build the trust and confidence to help her transition to a place where she could consider attending Life Choices with others. During their early meetings Alice’s mood was very low and often spent most of our early meetings crying and/or being withdrawn. Over time Lou was able to help Alice realise she was valued and important.
- ‘Get on top’ of Alice’s medication; in their early meetings Alice spoke of not wanting to “be here” anymore, Alice had a history of trying to end her life. During one meeting with Alice Lou contacted Alice’s GP who agreed to adjust her medication and agreed to alter the frequency of the medication to weekly scripts while Alice’s mood was very low. Lou agreed to collect from the pharmacy before their weekly appointments. This continued until Alice was in a better place emotionally.
- Lou held regular mentoring sessions with Alice where they explored all aspects of Alice’s life including parenting, housing, finances, education/training, relationships and self-worth. This regular mentoring helped form a trusted relationship in which Alice was able to open up more and more and she felt more able to take charge of her life.
- Lou arranged childcare provision through Konnect’s Participant Fund to enable Alice to attend the 6-week Life Choices course. Without this financial support Alice would not have been able to participate.
- Alice completed the 6-week Life Choice course. Alice had a shaky start to the course until she had a “lightbulb” moment (her words), halfway through the course. During the Life Choices course and their 1-1 meetings Alice and Lou have worked on resilience, well-being and self-worth and value.
- Alice thinks her eldest child has Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Alice is progressing this with her GP and The Family Hub. Alice has completed a parenting course to support her children. Alice is in a much more positive place now and focussed on giving her children the support they need at school and home.
Since completing Konnect Communities Life Choices course and 1:1 mentoring Alice has started supporting others as a volunteer peer mentor with a local organisation, Alice supported the facilitator supporting and encouraging the participants taking part – the feedback from the facilitator was brilliant.
Because of Alice’s lived experience and new-found confidence, she has been a positive role model to her peers and has earnt their respect, as well as the respect and gratitude from her mentor and the staff who have worked and met with her. Alice’s time on the project has come to an end but Alice and Lou have agreed a graduation plan for what she’ll do next which includes continuing to support others as a volunteer peer mentor.
Alice is feeling so much more confident about her future and is now set on having a career within social care helping others who are feeling ‘stuck’ or ‘lost’
Alice should be proud of herself, as she has achieved so much since her first meeting with Lou in March 21 – a huge well done!
You can read more about Konnect’s Life Choices by clicking on the links. If you or anybody you know is looking for support why not contact us for an informal chat about how Konnect Communities might help.