November 1, 2019

Sonya’s Time to Change

Just over a year ago, Sonya was living in a women’s refuge following the breakdown of her relationship. But what a difference a year can make.

Sonya had dedicated her time to caring for her partner – but when their relationship broke down, she found herself isolated with no idea of what to do next. Her severe anxiety meant she couldn’t go anywhere alone and her role as a carer meant she hadn’t worked for years.

I had never had any support before I found myself on my own. I didn’t know there was anyone out there who could help me.

Sonya was introduced to New Leaf by one of our outreach workers during a trip to the Job Centre. After being approved for New Leaf, Sonya met with her mentor, Karen, she was able to start piecing her life back together.

New Leaf can make a real difference. I don’t think people know what services are out there. They could turn their life around

Anxiety and depression held Sonya back from making the most out of her life, so gaining control over her mental health was the first port of call during her time on New Leaf. As part of New Leaf, we were able to offer Sonya an alternative to the group CBT sessions she was offered by her doctor, instead, providing her with 1:1 counselling so she could get the support she needed when she needed it.

Living in a refuge meant Sonya didn’t have the opportunity to cook healthy meals for herself, however, our Eat Well, Spend Less course taught her how to create nutritious meals on a budget. More than that, it pushed her into a group setting, something her anxiety hadn’t allowed for in the past.

When the time came for Sonya to move into a place of her own, New Leaf was there with her every step of the way: from finding somewhere suitable, to moving and settling in. Our money advice worker, Liz, was able to help Sonya maximise her income and how best to budget, even supporting Sonya with her application for grants for white goods to help make her new house a home.

Sonya has always had a passion for animals, so to help her with her social isolation and to build her confidence, she decided she would like to start volunteering for a local animal charity. Supported by her mentor, she completed and submitted an application and was accepted as a volunteer supporting the team look after the cats at a local animal shelter – a role she wouldn’t have even considered before New Leaf.

She was also introduced to a local day centre for people living with mental health conditions where she was able to widen her experiences and get to know people who understood what she was going through. She had clearly made a positive impression on the team at the day centre, as she was put forward to become a Time to Change champion. Made up of people with lived experience of mental illness, Time to Change Champions work to challenge stigma and discrimination around mental health in the local area.

New Leaf has changed my life around. This time last year, I couldn’t face going out of my room. Now, I’m volunteering as well as starting a new course online. My mentor has been more like a friend who has helped me to see there was more out there for me.

I feel I have begun my own life. I have the freedom and the confidence to try new things. I want to carry on volunteering and get stuck into my Understanding Mental Health course.

To learn more the work the Time to Change Champions are doing in Warrington, get in touch with Jayne: 07876783659

Starting your life over is really difficult, but we can help you along the way. Get in touch with New Leaf if you’re currently out of work and are looking to make a change:
T: 01925 452131

New Leaf is led by Torus Foundation and is part of the Building Better Opportunities Programme, funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) and The National Lottery Community Fund.

New Leaf Lottery Funded