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Nucleus at the heart of mental health recovery

17 June 2013

In north-west London, mental health charity Brent Mind runs Nucleus – a Lottery-funded “brokerage” service, which provides people experiencing mental distress with the opportunity to get their lives back on track. Nicola is just one of the 250 people whom Nucleus has helped in its first year. Nucleus brokerage worker Jay Sugar tells her story.

Nucleus' Jay Sugar and John Byrne

(L-R) Nucleus brokerage worker Jay Sugar and team leader, John Byrne

“If it wasn’t for you, I don’t know where I would be today,” says Nicola, 38*.

It sounds like an exaggeration, but for Nicola, her current outlook and prospects really do show how far she has come.

Nicola grew up in Mexico and came to the UK when she was 17 to study. She’s been here ever since. She married an Englishman but is now divorced.

A few years ago Nicola was made redundant. She found it difficult to get another job and fell into depression, exacerbated by anxiety and loss of self-confidence. She was finding it difficult to pay her rent and was facing eviction.

Nicola went to a local housing and resettlement service funded by Brent Council in north-west London. It’s there Nucleus runs a weekly drop-in surgery and it was there that we met.

My role is as a brokerage worker. I meet with people experiencing mental distress and give them the tools to take back control over their own lives. I inform people of their options, assist with personal action planning, and work with them to achieve their goals.

“When I first met Jay, I was desperate,” says Nicola. “I found out about the service from a friend who said that someone could listen to me, give me advice and some support.

“I wanted a way out of the mess I was in. I was homeless, had been diagnosed with depression, was very tearful and wanted to move on.

“Jay listened to me. That meant so much. I will never forget his first words – ‘You are not alone anymore’.

Nucleus has helped over 250 people in its first year

Nucleus has helped over 250 people in its first year

“For the first time, in a long time, I had somebody to talk to, somebody who listened and who didn’t rush me.

“I was homeless at the time, living in a hostel in central London. The place was nice but the people were varied. I didn’t like having to share facilities – toilet, kitchen. It was unhygienic.”

Nucleus signposted Nicola to a resettlement worker, with whom she made an appointment and was offered the support she needed.

“It was thanks to Jay and Nucleus that I now have my studio flat where I have my own kitchen where I can cook and it is clean.

“I also love swimming. I am from Mexico and would swim everyday there but when I came to England I missed it so much. Jay signed me up for the local centre and now I would swim three or four times a week. This has helped me so much.”

Nicola has also undertaken various training programmes and workshops geared towards gaining paid employment. She now works as an administrator.

“I’ve always said ‘I am a survivor’ but without Nucleus I do not know where I would be today. For sure, I know I would have gone down and down and I would be in a far worse situation.

“I’m so thankful to Jay and appreciate his help so much. I feel so much better now that I have even started to give up smoking.”

(*Not her real name)

Did you enjoy reading Jay’s blog? Has a funded project helped turn your life around? Leave your comments below or join the conversation on Twitter @biglotteryfund.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Jayne Abbott permalink
    19 June 2013 5:16 pm

    So inspiring. Empowering people to take control and change their lives is a privilege and her story shows that sometimes our fortunes change and we can all find ourselves needing a helping hand.

    • Big Lottery Fund permalink*
      20 June 2013 8:26 am

      Thanks for your comment, Jayne. It’s great to hear that the project has been so successful in its first year. Best wishes.

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