Katie’s story

Katie* was referred to Alana House in 2020 from Berkshire Women’s Aid after experiencing domestic abuse from her most recent partner. At triage, it was suggested that Alana House could offer three months of one-to-one support.

Katie had been receiving therapy at Prospect Park shortly before referral and was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, complex post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety. At the time of referral, Katie was living with her two-year-old son in the flat where the abuse took place and felt isolated, continually reliving the trauma she was subjected to. She had started studying for a degree in sociology and criminology from the Open University because she felt unable to attend an in-person university course due to her mental health issues. She was struggling to manage financially due to not being able to work alongside her degree.

Initially, Katie wanted support with finding new housing, increasing her support network and reducing her isolation. She was keen to attend groups at Alana House to increase her self esteem and to encourage her to leave her comfort zone. She struggled with being in crowds or and felt uncomfortable being in rooms with people she did not know.

Her support worker also identified opportunities for financial assistance, including applying for discretionary housing payments (DHP) for rent arrears incurred while she was staying at Prospect Park, personal independence payment (PIP), and contacting student finance to see if Katie would be eligible for maintenance support.

Katie also wanted support with applying for the disabled students’ allowance (DSA) to enable her to acquire the relevant additional tools, equipment and mentoring to support her through her degree.

Together, Katie and her Alana House support worker looked at the groups on offer at Alana House and decided that the most appropriate would be the parenting course, the Power to Change course about building healthy relationships and the Healing Trauma group focussed on recovering from adverse experiences.

In the three months of one-to-one support, Katie was assisted in applying for a maintenance loan, PIP, DHP and DSA. She was not awarded the maintenance loan because this is unusual for someone undertaking an Open University degree. Her initial application for PIP was not approved so Katie was supported with writing a mandatory reconsideration, which is awaiting a decision. Katie’s DHP application is also awaiting a decision following evidence she submitted about rent being deducted from her Universal Credit during her time at Prospect Park. Her application for DSA was successful and Katie’s support worker helped her write a detailed list of what was awarded in the allowance and who Katie would need to contact to begin the support.

Now that her one-to-one support has come to a close, Katie is keen to continue her journey at Alana House through groups and drop-ins. She feels more able to confront any difficulties that may arise in the future with the tools she has learnt during her time at Alana House.

* Name changed for confidentiality