MHAW2024 – The value of independent housing, accessibility and having someone fight your corner – Ciprian’s story

Together’s theme for MHAW2024 is community and to look at what that means to people, we spoke to Ciprian who uses our Northamptonshire Floating Support Service to hear his story. In this article we will hear about how serious life-changing health events meant he looked to access support from the team and the value independent and accessible housing within a supportive community benefitted his mental wellbeing.

MHAW2024 – The value of independent housing, accessibility and having someone fight your corner – Ciprian’s story

Ciprian began using Together’s Northamptonshire Floating Support Service in 2023 after he had been in temporary housing for 6 months following his discharge from hospital. He had been admitted to hospital after falling ill with Covid and sadly because of complications with the illness had to have a leg amputated. As well as dealing with this, he was on a ward where a lot of people passed away and so had gone through a very traumatic experience while also trying to come to terms with becoming disabled and the changes this meant for his day-to-day life.

Ciprian was assigned temporary accommodation when he came out of hospital but that was on a high floor in a block of flats without a working lift which left him isolated. That accommodation wasn’t accessible, with a shower rather than a bath and that took a long time to use. He also had hot water in the flat but he didn’t have access to cold water. For sleeping, there was a children’s bed but that broke shortly after Ciprian started using it and he had no choice but to keep using that. These factors as well as adjusting to his disability meant Ciprian struggled with depression and low mood. It was then that he was referred to Together’s Northampton Floating Support Service by his GP and when he first met Laura Fenton who is a Support Worker there.

Ciprian at the door of his new accommodation

Once Laura started working alongside Ciprian he said “life changed for the better” and he found that to be better than the help he’d received previously. He had been connected with some Wellbeing Workers by his local social care team but hadn’t had a great experience with them. Laura brought a lot of application to Ciprian’s interactions with services. He feels she has been a really strong advocate for him, helping to secure housing in a bungalow that is accessible for his wheelchair and helping with services like benefits. He jokingly refers to Laura as his ‘Karen’ because of how tenacious she is when following up on matters. That’s a nickname Laura agrees with, acknowledging she won’t stand for delays and wants to get things sorted for him.

Despite not having the best experience with some of the services that have been offered to him, Ciprian is keen to point out that he knows how difficult things are for them and so he factored that in with his feedback. That was still positive and as he noted, they did link him with Laura. Laura explained “his natural tendency is not to want to be a bother and he is not someone who would necessarily want to complain” but he did feel that the situation he was in was negatively impacting his wellbeing. Ciprian shared that since Laura has been helping him he has regained confidence and wanted to get on with things himself. An example of that is donating items like clothes and shoes to the local charity shop and sending to his home country in Romania. Donating items like that and helping others is something Ciprian feels is important and he will always want to do. He explained the local charity shop owner has been surprised at just how generous he has been to them and in this way, he is contributing to the local community himself.

The charity shop Ciprian donates to

A priority for Ciprian in the coming months is around his physical health and he is setting goals towards losing weight and increasing mobility using a prosthetic leg in the next 6 months. He wasn’t set up with an occupational therapist or given any physio after leaving hospital and so hasn’t started using the leg yet but he is motivated to do so. There were appointments offered for physio but those meant getting taxis to the sessions and that was a barrier to him being able to use them. The new housing he has secured through the Northamptonshire Floating Support Service has been really helpful and is a bungalow that is accessible with shops directly outside so he can visit those and be more active. That helps with isolation he was feeling before and there are other people around in the community that look out for him.

Prior to the amputation Ciprian worked as a chef having worked his way up from being a pot washer and he loves cooking and still does that now that he has been helped by Laura to get a cooker. The job meant very long hours and being on his feet though so he can’t do that now and the contract he signed meant working for long shifts without a break.

Ciprian had previously attended a community group for Romanian people at a local church, but he has stopped going there because of the reaction of people to the fact his leg has been amputated. He said he doesn’t mind the innocent questions that might come from children but when adults look at him in certain ways, he doesn’t want to be around that. He said society in England is more accepting of that and he finds God in other ways, not just in the church. In terms of his personality, Ciprian says he is an introvert and so while he knows the community is there and enjoys the independence his housing allows him, he is happy in his own company and doesn’t always need to be outgoing. He enjoys gaming and that is a past time he likes to get on with himself. He did try online gaming at one point but doesn’t really like to game with others in that way for fear of a repeat of a previous time when he explains he was “soundly beaten on Fifa 2020 by a 12 year old”.

Ciprian says “the help Laura has provided has been incredible and she has done so much in terms of chasing up services for him”. Laura self-deprecatingly explains “my bossiness comes in handy sometimes” but her application and drive to represent Ciprian have made a huge difference to his life. There are some community elements that Cirpian will be trying more in the coming months and Laura has taken him to the local library a few times to see about groups there and accessing the resources. He will see about that in his own time and when he is ready to explore it more. On reflecting on the system and how that had failed him, Ciprian thought about others who may be worse off than him and who he thinks could be further down the list than him and how dangerous that could be for their wellbeing. He says the depression and dealing with his injury has been difficult but feels more positive now in his new accommodation and commented to a friend that “maybe there might be some sun out behind the clouds”.

In the support he has received, Ciprian feels he has made his own choices on seeking care and getting the right care but some of that has come from Laura’s interventions. He’s learning from those to ask for more things and to follow up on them the way Laura would. Previously he wouldn’t want to bother and is always aware of people having difficult jobs but having someone in his corner has given him confidence again to do things himself and helped with his self-worth. He’s hugely appreciative of what Laura and the Together service have done for him.

Together would like to thank Ciprian for sharing his story.