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Escaping the legacy of childhood trauma: Clare’s Be Well journey

I am feeling better than I have done in a long time. My children can see how much happier I am now to what I was 12 months ago. I feel nothing can bring me down no matter what it is.

Mum of four, Clare’s life unravelled when the pandemic hit.

“With the first lockdown I’d been furloughed. It gave me time to think about a lot of things, bringing back memories that I didn’t want to be brought back.

“I’d been raped by a relative as a teenager. They later admitted it, but nobody believed me at the time and I ended up in prison for perjury when my second daughter was only five weeks old.”

“With lockdown everything just came to the forefront. My mental health went on a downward spiral, I was hoarding and not cleaning and my children were really unhappy. I was at one of my lowest points and I didn’t think I’d be able to drag myself out of it.”

Clare found Be Well through a Family Liaison Officer at her daughter’s school soon after the first lockdown ended in June 2020. Talking to Bernadette Chapman, a Be Well Employment Coach, proved a turning point.

While Clare tackled her hoarding with the Early Help service at Northwards Housing, Bernadette began to help unpick the money, family and health worries that swirled around the trauma Clare faced as a survivor of sexual abuse.

With Claire struggling to make ends meet on furlough, Bernadette encouraged her to get money advisors from her local housing office involved who helped get money towards fuel bills and looked into tax credits for her daughter. Clare used her local food bank for the first time too. “Bernadette gave me the link for stop smoking and I have gone from forty cigs a day to about five, saving me loads of money as well.”

Bernadette was also there for the whole family to lean on as one of Clare’s children took on the challenges of a new gender identity and college by helping them get in touch with local LGBT support groups, apply for a free bus pass and get a bursary.

Besides pinpointing Clare to the counselling services available locally from Self Help and Mind, through Bernadette she was also able call on someone who had been through the same experience.

“Bernadette was there to chat whether I wanted to just vent or talk deep, she didn’t set a time limit. She said if you still need to talk you can just ring me any time and she contacted me regularly to make sure I was OK.

“She was there to help with just everything really – it’s not just been with my mental health or the money issues I’ve had, or food issues because I’ve not been able to feed the kids. It’s been absolutely everything. Say the kids have made me smile, I could just sit on the phone and talk to Bernadette about it. She’d say, ‘you know what you’re doing is absolutely amazing’. She was always there every step and she was always encouraging me.”

It’s given Clare the space she needed to start to move on with her life again. She’s back in work now, has become a grandma for the fourth time and has just successfully completed a parenting course too.

“I am feeling better than I have done in a long time. My children can see how much happier I am now to what I was 12 months ago. I feel nothing can bring me down no matter what it is. My youngest even did a picture for Bernadette which said, ‘to Bernadette, thank you for making my mum happy again’.

“Now that I know that my kids are getting the things that they need, I can go and get the help that I need for the things that have happened in the past.”