Fiona's Story

Before I came to Hestia’s Oremi Centre in Kensington, I’d been brought up in hospitals and care homes. I was labelled a paranoid schizophrenic with learning difficulties. I was thought of as incapable.

I just thought, well, that’s life for me. I assumed that things would never change. For the longest time people didn’t think I would be able to live on my own. Everything was done for me.

Then, 15 years ago, my social worker suggested I could live on my own. It was a scary idea at first, but I knew it was the right thing for me. Soon after, I moved to London and was referred to the Oremi Centre.

I was terrified and anxious before I started. That feeling was wiped away as soon as they greeted me at the door. I was accepted straight away. From there on, my life changed.

Now I attend the relationship group and the mindfulness group. They aren’t just groups; they have equipped me for life and changed my way of thinking. How I tackle things nowadays is completely different to before I was at the Oremi Centre.

I had never had friends before. I didn’t know how to handle it; there was a lot of fear. My baggage was heavy and holding me back. My keyworker helped me to understand and maintain friendships. I’m quite popular now! We all understand each other.

I feel like my recovery journey started in the last five years. It took me a while at the Oremi Centre to pluck up the courage and say to myself: “I need to trust someone”. The team showed me patience and I have excelled since. They know me inside out.

We do so many different things. We’ve been to France, to the seaside, to the cinema, held parties. I’ve tried so many things that I never thought I could achieve at a day centre.

Oremi is for African, Caribbean and Arabic Speaking communities and I have learnt a lot about my race and culture there too. It’s enabled me to feel connected and understood.

I was also asked to join the Oremi Council, where members come together and work with staff to say what we need to help us move forward. I’m the finance minister. We all get to have a part in our own well-being.

While at the Oremi Centre, my diagnosis has been changed to Complex PTSD. It made more sense to me. Eventually I’d like to learn to teach about my condition. I believe you can tackle your labels and make a transformation.

The service has changed me for the better. It’s like I have my life back. I even got to do some volunteering in Hestia’s Head Office.

The staff are like family too; we are all equal as one. When you come to Oremi, you can’t differentiate between who is a member and who is staff – it’s just one big, warm family. As soon as you come through the door you feel that.

All the members are intelligent – we could run a country if they let us! Sometimes our conditions stop us moving forward, but we are loving and caring.

I am still learning about life and about myself. I am not a ‘sick’ person – I am just someone who has a condition. I have got to know myself as a happy-go-lucky lady who is lovable and cheeky, and life is looking promising.

15 years ago, everything was done for me. Now I am back in control.