Claire and Ngaire
Claire's story is not uncommon. In hindsight she thinks she suffered from depression most of her life, but really didn't recognise it. After a big crash and lots of hospital stays, Claire was part of a meeting that recommended she spend some time in one of Richmond's houses as part of its Supported Accommodation Service.
Claire stayed in supported accommodation for 18 months and with the help of Richmond she got a job. A few years later Claire moved to Reefton on the West Coast to be closer to her mother. Not long after moving Claire began to isolate - essentially spending large amounts of time by herself and cutting off contact with other people. Because of this behaviour Claire was referred to Richmond's Peer Led Activity and Living Skills Service based in Greymouth on the West Coast.
For Claire, meeting her support worker Ngaire was the first step in making significant progress on her journey to recovery. "Ngaire and I have a good relationship, we get on very well. Ngaire will come to my house and we will chat and set my goals. Sometimes we will go and have coffee together."
Ngaire says she took time to get to know Claire. "What is really important when you start working with a client is to establish a base on which you can work from and that was our first goal. I told Claire about my life experiences and she shared information with me - we built up trust."
Ngaire urged Claire to identify some goals and get her thinking about what she wanted to achieve. For Claire her most important goal is getting a job: "I think I am ready for part-time work."
Ngaire says working in collaboration with other organisations is really important and part of her job is to put Claire in touch with them so she can achieve her goals. As her self esteem increases, Claire would like to work more closely with some of the other community organisations.
“The biggest benefit to me working with Ngaire is she gives me the confidence to know that I can operate in the community. If not for this support I would be at home 24/7 all alone and not really participating – not living my life to the full.
“I’m really proud to say that Richmond offered me a scholarship to attend a course to learn to be a peer support worker. I never thought in a million years I would get an opportunity like this.”
Ngaire says the biggest change she’s seen in Claire is her change of mind, from thinking she can’t do things to now thinking she can. “She is a very capable woman and needs to believe in herself. That’s part of my job to support her and help her to be the best she can.”
“It’s great to have the support,” says Claire. “Ngaire builds me up and gives me confidence and opportunities. It’s a shame that mental illness is still stigmatised, but I would say to people get help – there is a lot of help out there in the community.”
Ngaire feels privileged “every day” to be part of Claire’s journey. “I want people experiencing mental illness to know that others do care and do want to support you on your journey."