A Whittlesey mum who had a nervous breakdown after the collapse of her 17-year relationship is looking to a brighter future with the help of a National Lottery funded programme.
Sarah Grant (42) suffered so badly from anxiety and depression when her marriage ended that she thought she was going to die.
She explained: “There was one night when I was crawling on the floor, I was shaking and couldn’t breathe. It was horrible. My friends and family were having to do everything for me because I couldn’t do it for myself. My mind just wasn’t functioning. My mum was in tears when she came with me to the doctor because she couldn’t stand to see me like that.”
As Sarah had been a stay-at-home mum before her marriage break-up, she began claiming Employment Support Allowance (ESA). Through the Jobcentre she was introduced to the Pre-school Learning Alliance in Swavesey. The charity is a partner in Building Better Opportunities (BBO), a programme funded by the European Social Fund and the National Lottery through the Big Lottery Fund.
Through the Pre-school Learning Alliance and the BBO programme, Sarah’s personal advisor Mandy Beetlestone has been her rock over the last year. She has helped the mum-of-two fill in application forms for voluntary work, has spoken on her behalf regarding her finances and has attended her ESA appointments with her.
As a result, Sarah has started to pick up the pieces of her life. She said: “Mandy has helped me so much, she’s lovely. She’s someone I can talk to if I don’t understand a letter I’ve been sent, or if I need her to find a telephone number for me. I’m not very good on the internet.
“It’s nice to have someone there when you need them. If I look at where I was two years ago, I don’t know what my life would be like without her.”
Sarah secured voluntary work in a charity shop with Mandy’s support, before being taken on as a volunteer in a tea room where she still spends two hours a week. “It’s really boosted my confidence,” said Sarah. “I would have become a recluse otherwise, and spent seven days a week on my own at home.”
She added: “It’s been a long journey and it’s still going on, as I’m waiting to sell my house and move on from my ex-husband. But I am a much stronger person now. Eventually I’d like to go into care work and pass my driving test. If I can do it, anybody can.”
Mandy said: “When I first met Sarah she was very low in herself. She was tearful and lonely due to the break-up of her marriage and concerned about the effect it was having on her children.
“Her mental health issues were very severe and she was quite paranoid about being around other people. But she engaged well with me and was happy to build a relationship between us.
“Since then, she’s made lasting relationships at the tea room and is building up a social network of friends that she didn’t have before. I’m sure that once her marital issues are fully resolved, she will be ready to move on with her life and will be successful in gaining employment.”
The Building Better Opportunities programme is managed by training and skills provider The Consultancy Home Counties Ltd (TCHC). Chairman Dale Morgan said: “Being involved in the BBO programme has clearly had a wonderful impact on Sarah’s life. We wish her all the very best in the future and are sure that she will achieve her dreams of working in the caring profession.”
For more information about TCHC and its other services, visit www.tchc.net or call 01923 698 430.