Nicky lives in the Wakefield area of West Yorkshire and is her late 30s. After becoming aware of the Pluss Hopeful Families programme through another participant, Nicky approached Groundwork, one of four specialist partners to Pluss, who deliver the Hopeful Families programme in the area.

Nicky has difficulty trusting others and lacks confidence. Since school days, Nicky had struggled with reading, writing and problem solving and while she had never had a diagnosis, Nicky feels she has learning difficulties, though she is very keen to learn and progress, albeit with a little additional support.

“I don’t adapt well to change and my memory and my ability to retain information has been a problem, even my signature is not consistent.” said Nicky.

Prior to joining the programme Nicky had undertaken a variety of training at level one for hairdressing and level two teaching assistant, but had not been able to progress further, which was a frustration. Nicky also recognised that she had barriers that needed to be addressed, which had been hindering progression.

“My mentor recognised that I needed time to build trust. Over a few appointments I outlined my main concerns to help my mentor fully understand the areas that I have found difficult.”

 

Challenges

For a long time, Nicky felt stuck, unable to move forwards, feeling that no one is able to help. Since joining the Hopeful Families programme, Nicky has joined a waiting list with the Richmond Fellowship, which provides supported housing services for people with learning difficulties and those who are dealing with various mental health conditions.

“I have not adapted to change that well in the past and I tend to become overwhelmed quite easily. I can also be forgetful. This obviously has created issues for me. So, I asked for calls to be confirmed with a trusted friend, to help with retaining information and I attend appointments at my local library, a location I know well.”

 

Support from Hopeful Families

A dyslexia assessment was arranged for Nicky, to better understand her learning needs. She now has a reasonable adjustment report.

Through Nicky’s mentor, she was able to receive one-to-one support to build trust and was given assistance with a referral to children’s services, along with support to improve her numeracy and English skills, CV writing and other employability support. Nicky was also supported in reapplying for the personal independence allowance.

Information and advice was also provided in a range of areas to improve Nicky’s general health and wellbeing. This included smoking cessation services, community links for support around her child’s educational needs, weight loss support programmes and money management advice.

Nicky was given assistance writing letters, to help get her daughter into school. Nicky’s community coach also helped work through what is called a ‘Better Off In Work’ calculation. This process is helpful to identify what support an individual is able to claim and to see how much better off they might be in work.

There was a history of issues with her landlord too, so among other things, information around tenancy rights was explained to Nicky. This helped develop her confidence when working through her housing issues.

School closures to reduce the spread of Covid-19 brought additional issues. Nicky needed additional support around home schooling and Nicky was also able to access a learning mentor with the school.

 

Making a difference

Lockdown last year were quite challenging for Nicky. Her mentor called her regularly to maintain contact and to minimize those feelings of isolation. Goals were set for going on weekly outings with her children for walks or bike rides.  Starting at once weekly, with garden exercise in between. This was slow progress, but she did increase family activity and became less reclusive with encouragement from her mentor, along with support by access to the Hopeful Facebook page and watching Chaos TV, on ideas to be more resilient.

“I trust my mentor, mainly because of the consistent contact without putting any unnecessary pressure on me. They encouraged me to try new things in a supportive way. This had a positive effect on my confidence. This opened up new opportunities to address my issues, from practical support and through referrals.”

 

The future

Nicky is currently looking at the Reed transfer programme and once lockdown ends, she will begin a weekly tutor-supported course with Doncaster College. This is an online course, but the local library will provide mentoring support. The course consists of seven modules over a 12-14 week period. Completing this will open more opportunities into employment or further learning.

Nicky concluded: “I’ve had more help from my mentor than any other service. She actually helps me with the things I actually need, and this is really good.”