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Keith's Story: “HARP gave me a new direction”

Keith owned a property in Old Leigh, which he and his wife lived in for a number of years. After their relationship broke down, Keith struggled to keep up with his finances. He sold his house and moved to Spain, where he worked on the markets, helped on building sites and played live music – a passion of his since the age of fourteen.

Whilst in Spain, Keith’s situation changed and he soon found it harder to get by. Although not diagnosed at the time, Keith’s mental health started to get the better of him.

“Through my life, I’ve suffered from bi-polar. It wasn’t diagnosed whilst I was in Spain. It is something that I have discovered about myself since being back in England.

“I’d always had mood swings, but I wasn’t really aware of the illness. When things got hard, I found that I retreated into myself. At times, I would hardly see anyone for months.

“I knew I needed help, so I arrived in England three years ago. I sold everything I had, other than my guitar.”

Keith had travelled back home to find help, but he didn’t have a place to stay. A friend recommended that he came to HARP, where he would stay for the next eight months.

“I was very low and very confused. I didn’t know my National Insurance number; I didn’t know a lot of things. I’d been out of everything for over ten years.

“I was like driftwood really, floating about. HARP helped to give me some direction again.”

As well as providing Keith with a roof over his head and a room to call his own, HARP helped Keith overcome some of the challenges he was facing. He was given financial advice and was encouraged to see the GP, who diagnosed him with bi-polar disorder.

Keith’s confidence slowly started to grow and through HARP activities he found a new passion for gardening and soon rekindled his love for playing live music.

“It was the support I needed. I couldn’t have done it alone. Being given regularity and a bit of organisation was great for me.”

After eight months, HARP found Keith supported accommodation with Richmond Fellowship. After two years, he is now looking to move on.

“I’m looking at moving into my own place. I’m doing two gardening courses and I’m starting to get some work too. It’s taken time, but if you consider where I was and where I am, it’s marvellous.

“I have helped myself, I’ve had to, but without the help of HARP who knows where I’d be.”

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