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Helena's story: "LIHH gave me my life back."

Helena tells her story of how a supported housing tenancy with Leeds Irish Health and Homes helped transform her mental health and gave her the confidence to volunteer.

27 years ago, Helena - who was born in Dublin and raised in Athlone before moving to Leeds 50 years ago - was going through an extremely tough time.

“I was struggling with mental health issues and I needed to move - I wasn’t happy where I was,” says Helena. “Someone introduced me to Leeds Irish Health and Homes and they offered me a flat.”

Helena was Leeds Irish Health and Homes’ first female tenant, and was assigned a support worker. The help she received, she says, was both practical and emotional.

“I was terrified of going places and doing things, and they really helped me through that,” Helena explains. “Leeds Irish Health and Homes gave me encouragement and helped me to change the way I was feeling.”

“It meant I had someone who would listen to me and not condemn me for the things I was saying. They were very good to me - without their help I might not be here today.”

Today, Helena is happy in her flat. “This is my home,” she says. “I don’t want to move from here. I wouldn’t go back to Ireland to live; I wouldn’t know Ireland now. I’d go for a holiday.”

She also feels reassured by the safety net a supported tenancy offers. “I still have a support worker, and I know there’s someone if I need them. They can help with filling out forms or explaining letters from the hospital.”

Feeling secure in her home and improving her mental health rebuilt Helena’s confidence to a point where she started to volunteer at the Lunch Clubs. She’s now been volunteering for 15 years and is a familiar face to many of our regulars.

“I serve teas, I listen to people - I can do anything, really,” she says. “Just don’t ask me to cook!”

Ten months ago, Helena had an operation. She feels certain that her recovery was helped by the fact she wanted to get back home and to volunteering at the Lunch Clubs as quickly as possible.

“It could have been a lot worse if I’d left it any longer, but thank God we got it early,” she says. “I got back on my feet as quick as I possibly could. I got discharged and all I could think was, ‘Can I get back to the Club?’”

“That’s how much I love it. I’d do anything for Leeds Irish Health and Homes. They gave me my life back.”

Leeds Irish Health and Homes' supported housing service has transformed so many lives.

We’re currently raising money towards the refurbishment of Davitt House - one of the properties we manage where ten of our tenants live - to make it the home our tenants deserve.

If you’d like to contribute towards our work, please consider setting up a regular donation to Leeds Irish Health and Homes through Paypal. Even a few pounds a month - or whatever you can spare - could really help. Thank you.


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