Happy ending for Littleborough man with schizophrenia

Date published: 04 April 2015

After being diagnosed with schizophrenia at age 20, 31-year-old Colin Evans from Smithy Bridge finally leaves years of being a resident at Hope Court behind him.

Colin had dreamt of having a military career, but refusing to see any positives about his future living with schizophrenia, he turned to drink.

Five years after he was diagnosed, Colin’s community psychiatric nurse introduced him to adult health and social care charity Making Space, who housed him in their local supported housing at Hope Court.

Hope Court helped him take on his first steps towards independent living, whilst monitoring his condition and giving him healthy eating advice, as well as offering him financial support with benefits and tenancy related paperwork, budgeting and bill payments.

Their aim was to show Colin that he can live his life like everyone else, and not let his diagnosis get the better of him.

The stay proved to be just the motivation he needed. Now halfway through a four-year chemistry degree at Manchester University, he is living independently and is much happier.

Colin said: “There’s no way I’d have been motivated enough to do that without Making Space.

“Before I moved into the supported accommodation, I was a mess. I was just off the mental health ward and living with my mum and dad, and they were doing their best but I really needed my own place.

“I’d have been reaching for the booze, not looking at colleges. I’d previously started courses in both Liverpool and Leeds, but both times my paranoia increased in the unfamiliar cities and I ended up returning home.

“My support worker, Wayne, still comes to see me every week. We’ll have a brew and a chat about the week.

“It’s really important for me to have that relationship with someone who isn’t a peer, and who has an insight into my history. I’m stable now, although I do still get voices and I don’t think that will ever go completely, but Wayne helps me to manage things. I know now that I can’t eradicate them, so instead we talk about how I can deal with them being there.

“Psychiatrists are great, but they don’t have the time to sit and chat about things like that. Wayne and the support workers from Making Space offer their time, and that time is precious.”

Eager to support others diagnosed with mental health issues and to give back to the community, Colin is now volunteering his time to give talks about coping with schizophrenia. Twenty five people attended a recent event at Recovery Republic, a wellbeing centre in Heywood, where he opened up about his experiences.

He added: “If I manage to help one person to turn their life around for the better then I have achieved what I wanted.”

A spokesperson for Making Space said: “Our services cater for cases from anxiety to depression and extreme circumstances. We help people who have issues with mental health, learning difficulties, and age-related cases such as dementia.

“Colin is one of many who come to us for help and we encourage and support them to live their lives independently.

“We try to let people live as independently as possible and aim to satisfy their own wants and needs.”

Colin is giving his second talk at the York Street centre on Friday 10 April at 10.30am. He will be discussing more about his experiences with schizophrenia and his journey to a better way of life.

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