50 Years 50 Voices "Growing up, I had no confidence whatsoever. It was my biggest issue." Saffron’s Story Growing up, I had no confidence whatsoever. It was my biggest issue. I felt alone and sad. My mental health deteriorated and it resulted in a stay at hospital. I recognised that I needed support. I’ve been living at Hestia’s supported accommodation for almost eight years now. I really didn’t know what to expect at first, living with other people I didn’t know. It was a struggle at first. There were good days and bad days. I felt stuck. I’d completed a Peer Mentoring college degree but just couldn’t find employment. I desperately wanted to do a nursing degree, but all the courses I tried were full. It was a really hard time mentally. Now I think I’m in a good place. We’ve worked out a care plan that works for me and my needs. I know what medication works for me. I’ve started going out and socialising in the community and I’m back at college studying IT. In the last year I’ve been on trips to the theatre to see The Lion King, and to Alton Towers. This really helped with my confidence and being more social. The team and I get on so well at the accommodation. Juliet and Cecilia, who have supported me as I recover, pull me through whenever I feel like I’m shutting down. They have become very good friends to me. I can still be hard on myself, so I think the fact that Juliet and Cecilia have managed to help me realise my potential is a massive achievement in itself. Through encouraging me take on in-house tasks like designing rotas, taking minutes in meetings or organising training for other residents, they’ve made me feel like I can achieve anything. I even organised for our local MP, Rupa Huq, to come here and learn more about mental health. There’s still so many things I’d like to do; nursing is at the forefront of my mind. I want to go to university to do it eventually. I know it’s incredibly rewarding to see people get better, or to make their life as fulfilling as possible if they can’t get better. I’d love to get my own flat in the community one day too, and eventually go back to California where I was born. I was put up for adoption when I was younger, and I don’t get to see my family anymore, as they’re still in America. One day I’d like to find them again. Once I’m finished focusing on myself, and getting better. For now, Hestia has given me a surrogate family. To be honest, I’m content with how far I’ve come. I’m in this good space, and I’m proud that I’ve overcome my illness to the extent that I’m socialising, and feel like I’m back in the land of the living. Juliet and Cecilia have put a plan in motion to help me get to where I want to be, but they’ve also taught me to believe in myself, and made me realise that there’s time for me to achieve my dreams. Not everything happens right now. You have to work on it, and eventually, you get there. Which book has impacted me the most? Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor. I learn it in school. It’s about racism in America, slavery and what happened back in the days on the cotton fields. It was a horrific read but really educational. It made me think about how well I’ve got it. Which film has impacted me the most? Armageddon. I won’t spoil it, but Harry, the main character, basically overcomes something and saves the world in doing so. I think I’m a bit of a romanticist. The way he helped everyone was almost in a romantic sense. Which song has impacted me the most? Something Inside So Strong by Labi Siffre. It’s an inspirational one for me because it reminds me of my family. We used to sing that at church back in the day when I’d visit them as a child over summer. We sang it here at the house one Christmas and I felt something inside of me that needed to come out. I knew I had more to offer the world. Support our mental health and complex needs services Judy's Story: "When my son passed away three years ago, I was in bits, and I needed to fill that space." John's Story: "As an 89-year-old gay man, I grew up as an outsider. I have an empathy for those who are disadvantaged." Tahara's Story: "I bundled our stuff into a bag and, with my two sisters, ran away."