A clean home is a clear mind
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From the outside Leanne* was a model customer. The 28-year-old always paid her rent on time and was never mentioned in any cases of anti-social behaviour. She was, for all intents and purposes, just somebody who liked to keep herself to herself.
But on the inside it was a very different story. Having to care for her seriously ill parents had pushed the mum-of-one closer and closer to the edge. Deep depression and anxiety had set in and that, coupled with borderline personality disorder, had left Leanne in a very dark place.
A place that was so dark that mountains of clothes, bottles and general rubbish littered every corner of her one-bedroom flat. A black bin liner was fastened across her kitchen window to hide the mess unfurling inside.
I started burying my head in the sand whilst caring for my parents and then when my dad passed away, it just became even worse. Gradually the property was becoming more and more run down and the piles of rubbish even higher. I lived with no gas or hot water for over two years and I used to use a kettle for my washes – I just coped. I never used to put my bins out because there was always a chance I’d bump into a neighbour. I just didn’t see a way out – I felt so embarrassed and it was just like a vicious circle which seemed like it would never end.
In April 2015, it nearly did end when Leanne attempted to take her own life.
New neighbourhood coach Amanda Jordan said:
For a while Leanne’s situation went completely unnoticed because from the outside she never caused any hassle and paid her rent on time. I then attempted to get hold of her on a number of occasions but Leanne just wouldn’t respond. Eventually I came to the conclusion that she had abandoned the property so I started the abandonment process.
After months of non-engagement, and fearing that she may be left homeless and have all access to her daughter restricted, Leanne finally responded to Amanda’s requests and arranged to meet her.
“I’ll never forget when I first walked into Leanne’s home – when people talk about a mountain of rubbish, this literally was a mountain of rubbish and in every room. The bath was piled high with junk and you couldn’t even get into the sitting room. It was pretty shocking.
After a couple of follow-up meetings Leanne began to realise that Amanda simply wanted to help and in September last year, she arranged for two industrial skips to be dropped off outside her property from our grounds maintenance team.
At first I just didn’t know where to start and it was so daunting. But with Amanda’s support I started in the kitchen and then bathroom and every day I’d fill up the skip. I felt so liberated and finally for the first time in ages I felt like I could see the light.
Leanne has made gradual yet impressive progress since September and is also undergoing therapy to cope with her mental health conditions.
I’m so much happier and I can even have my daughter round for tea now that the kitchen has been cleared. I’ve just got one more room to clear and then gradually I’ll get round to decorating. I still have bad days and there’s a long way to go but if Bromford weren’t there for me, I can honestly say I wouldn’t be here now. I felt there was nowhere to go but there is support out there if you need it. You feel you’ll be judged and it’s the hardest thing to overcome but once I realised I wasn’t going to be judged I was able to start turning my life around.
*name changed to protect identity