The first thing you notice about Kayleigh is her lovely smile. Despite the immense hardship she has encountered in her life, she has a positive outlook on life and incredible resilience.
Kayleigh didn’t have a straightforward childhood although that’s not something she wishes to dwell upon. Issues in her early life sadly led to poor mental health, self-harm and a pattern of alcohol and drug dependency.
The relationships she formed were often with people living similarly chaotic lives and she frequently found herself trying to cope with her own problems whilst caring for others. Carl, her partner of more than 4 years was himself an alcoholic. During their relationship, Kayleigh managed to overcome her own addiction but tragically, returned home one day to discover Carl’s body in the flat they shared. He had died of alcohol abuse.
Since the flat was in Carl’s name, within two weeks, Kayleigh found herself homeless. Living on the streets and struggling with grief, it is perhaps little surprise that she relapsed into destructive patterns of behaviour.
Eventually, after spending time first in Jimmy’s and then in a women’s hostel Kayleigh began to engage with Alison, our Senior Women’s Project Worker.
Throughout the Covid Pandemic, in addition to always being there for emotional support, Alison helped Kayleigh with practical support including help to access the food bank and dealing with the local authorities and other support services.
“Alison’s helped me so much. She’s someone I can always talk to. I’ve never had that in my life before.”
Over the past 18 months, with Wintercomfort’s support, Kayleigh is engaging with CGL (Drug and Alcohol Support Services) and is making fantastic progress in overcoming her addiction. She is also making great strides in overcoming her struggles with anxiety.
She tells me proudly of the way she now manages her household bills and budgeting. “I used to spend every penny I had the day after I got paid” she smiles ruefully “but now the first thing I do is pay for my gas and electric and then do an online shop for food”.
She’s also enjoying taking part in some of the activities on offer at Wintercomfort and is really keen to get involved in some cooking classes. “I really like cooking and trying to make something nice out of what I can get from the foodbank.” she says “It would be great to learn some new recipes to cook on a budget”.
As for the future, Kayleigh has ambitions become a support worker herself. “I want to use my own experiences to help other people. Wintercomfort have helped me so much and I want other people who are experiencing the same things to know that they will be there for them too.”
“I know that Wintercomfort is somewhere I can always go to talk to people who really care and will never judge me.”