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A rollercoaster journey of highs and lows is how most people would describe their lives and Jenny Knight is certainly no different.

The 34-year-old was possibly the last person you’d expect to be battling anxiety and depression while she was enjoying a successful career as a retail store manager in Telford town centre. But following a tumultuous time with a previous partner, Jenny ended up homeless and moved away from her support network to the picturesque village of Wem in north Shropshire about 20 miles away.

“I was volunteering in a charity shop in Wem for three weeks before I secured employment as a carer which is something I had always wanted to do,” Jenny explained. “Then one day I was assisted moving a client and my shoulder just popped and I tore all the muscles in my shoulder. I had quite a while off work and eventually for health and safety and insurance reasons my job had to end which devastated me because it was a really nice place to work.”

Around the same time, another relationship had ended and Jenny’s mental health spiralled completely out of control putting her own wellbeing at risk.

Jenny said: “My family were 15 miles away in Shrewsbury so being here in Wem I felt stuck. I felt like a prisoner here. I had no job, no money, had to go onto benefits, and that’s when the depression kicked in. I was an absolute mess and I don’t mind admitting that.

“It came to the point that I couldn’t even get out of bed, it was very rare that I would get dressed or have a shower, and I wouldn’t even walk to the shop so I would often go without food – and I am diabetic so I was putting my own health in jeopardy. I just couldn’t face the world outside.”

Jenny freely admits that she didn’t really have a relationship with her landlord at the time, but then in October 2016 neighbourhood coach Amy Clarke knocked on her door whilst still in training for her new role.

“It was one of my first ever visits and I was actually still shadowing at the time,” Amy recalls. “We knocked the door and I remember Jenny saying ‘oh I haven’t seen anybody for ages’. I said ‘hello, this is me, we’ve slightly changed the way we’re working’ and three or four weeks later I returned and that was the first time I started getting to know Jenny and I knew I she was in a bad place.”

Socialise

Amy steadily gained Jenny’s trust and started setting her some simple challenges designed to build her confidence. First she was tasked to walk to the local shops and then she took the bus to town, something Jenny managed by listening to music through headphones to calm her nerves.

Once Jenny had made sufficient progress, Amy sat down with Jenny again to discuss getting back into work and guided her through a number of applications. Skills coach Ellinor Walley gave Jenny some extra guidance and despite being unsuccessful at a couple of interviews, the positive feedback she was receiving was doing wonders for her self-esteem.

A month after Amy came into her life, Jenny bumped into a childhood sweetheart and rekindled their romance.

“He would encourage me go to the local pub at the weekend or go away camping which is just something I’d have never thought I was capable of doing at the time.”

After a few more months of progress and persistence, Jenny secured a new retail job at Shrewsbury’s Riverside Shopping Centre and is also learning to drive having received her provisional driving licence.

“For the last six months my life has been ace. I wouldn’t answer the door to anyone a year ago so it was massive when Amy came into my life. Now I know I don’t have to deal with things on my own and I’ve learnt that the best way to get over something like this is to talk about it,” Jenny added.

Passing her driving test is the most immediate goal and Jenny says re-joining the care industry, this time working in dementia care, is a longer-term aim after gaining some further qualifications.

Amy added: “She has shown such tremendous resilience and it’s simply a different Jenny to the one I met just over a year ago. She catches a busy morning bus to work, has the confidence to go into town on a Saturday night to socialise, and is even learning to drive. I’m very proud of the progress she has made.”

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