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Mental Health Awareness Week: Mary’s story

15 May 2023

Mary wanted to install a bath as it helps her anxiety, but was told her building might be redeveloped.

Moving into a new home is an exciting step. When Mary was allocated a new housing association flat, she wanted to decorate it and make it really feel like home.

Above all, she wanted to install a bath. Mary has a mental health condition and anxiety, and bathing helps with both.

When Mary asked if this was possible, her housing association told her that the building she lived in was marked for possible future development. She couldn’t make the changes she wanted. Worse, it now felt like her new home could be taken away at any time.

Working with an advocate

Mary asked for more information from the housing association many times, but she didn’t get an answer. She contacted VoiceAbility for support from a general advocate.

She didn’t feel the first advocate she worked with was suited to her needs, so her case was transferred to a new advocate, Magenta.

Mary and Magenta tried to call the housing association during their first meeting together. They put on hold for a long time, then the phone was put down on them. They tried again without success. 

With Mary’s consent, Magenta agreed she would continue to try to contact the housing association on her behalf. Magenta spoke with several individuals there on multiple occasions, and sent a number of emails, but over the next couple of months no more information was provided. The building was marked for possible future development, and that was all anyone could tell them. 

With this uncertainty, Mary’s anxiety and mental health deteriorated further.

Mary and Magenta agreed to lodge a formal complaint with the housing association. With little assistance from Magenta, Mary completed the online complaints form herself, and chased them regularly for an update. 

I can finally celebrate because I know this is my home.

Within a couple of weeks of submitting the complaint, Mary received email confirmation from the housing association. They confirmed that the property was no longer marked for possible future development, and that Mary’s tenancy was going to be converted from a Shorthold to an Assured Tenancy. 

Mary and Magenta are currently working through the contract together to make sure Mary feels happy and comfortable with what she’s signing. 

Mary emailed her thanks to Magenta. 

This is going to help my mental health so much! I’m going to feel like I can finally celebrate because I know this is my home I’m staying in.”

* To protect people’s privacy we don’t use their real names, but their stories are genuine.

Mental Health Awareness Week 2023

The Mental Health Foundation’s Mental Health Awareness Week theme this year is anxiety.

Anxiety can affect anyone, including people with other mental health conditions, and other health and care needs.

Read more about Mental Health Awareness Week 2023.