Kayla’s story

Kayla* was referred to Alana House in 2021 by a social prescriber at her GP. At the time of referral, Kayla needed support for her physical and mental health, her financial situation and her attitudes, thinking and behaviour. Kayla had recently experienced difficulties in her personal life that increased her need for support, in particular an incident where she was financially exploited by someone in a position of power.

Soon after support began, Kayla’s Alana House support worker ascertained that she had experienced a great deal of trauma in her life, including being attacked and losing sight in one eye and having permanent damage to parts of her body following these experiences. In additional to the effect on her physical health, Kayla had been struggling to manage her mental health; she had been feeling suicidal and self harmed on a daily basis. Kayla had no self worth and very low self esteem which impacted on her ability to complete day to day tasks. She had little to no support and felt like she was unable to manage things by herself.

Kayla began attending one-to-one sessions with a support worker at Alana House on a weekly basis and several key objectives were set out, such as having a daily routine which included attending relevant Alana House groups. At first, Kayla felt she was not in the right mindset to attend any groups which could trigger negative emotions so she started with ImproVoice, an eight-week drama workshop to improve self confidence, interpersonal skills and conflict resolution skills.

To support her mental health, Kayla was referred to the Crisis Mental Health Team. She disclosed that she had been frequently gambling and Alana House referred her to Gamcare, their partner agency who could provide specialist support in this area.

Other support from Alana House included a referral to Adult Social Care, support to learn new skills and encouragement to volunteer at the Alana House café and other events to build her confidence. Alana House also applied for Kayla to attend a five-day residential programme designed for people who have been through life changing illness, injury or trauma.

Once Kayla felt she was in a place to explore some of the deep rooted traumas that she had been through, she agreed to attend the Healing Trauma course at Alana House. She was struggling with her emotions and she felt she needed to find other coping mechanisms to deal with these. Kayla attended every session of the course.

Kayla completed a self esteem Rosenberg questionnaire on the first session of the course and another on the last session, and her score for self esteem was higher after completing the course. She said that she had learnt that she was not alone which really helped her.

Kayla struggles with large groups and found it difficult to communicate with others in the group; despite this, she still attended each week, engaged with the facilitators and completed all the groupwork set out. Kayla said that she felt the session which explored the process of trauma and self care was the session she found most challenging but also the most helpful. The session encouraged her to really think about her past experiences and emotions which was difficult to do. At the same time, Kayla also expressed that this was the session she engaged with the most as it allowed her to realise that she was not alone, and it enabled her to reflect on her situation and learn how to better cope with some of the things she was struggling with in her daily life.

* Name changed for confidentiality

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Healing Trauma is a six-week course run by Alana House which focuses on understanding the impact of trauma and learning new strategies and techniques to help participants feel grounded and safe. The course covers topics such as power and abuse, the process of trauma and self care, adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and anger.