Changing Lanes: Andrew's Story

Andrew struggled with anxiety, loneliness and depression. The only thing that got him through each day was alcohol, but what Andrew didn’t appreciate was that his alcohol addiction was only making his mental health worse.

Andrew sought support from Plus Dane Housing, who encouraged him to enrol onto the Changing Lanes and Expert Patients Programmes.

“I got stuck in a routine of waking up late, hung over, feeling very anxious and lonely. I would spend most of my time sat in my flat thinking about my next drink. I didn’t have any friends and what little family I do have lived far away, so I felt very isolated. Eventually I stopped convincing myself that I was coping and realised I needed help. The problem was, I didn’t know who to turn to. Plus Dane Housing had reached out to me to say that they were more than just a landlord, and that they could put me in touch with services who could support me to get back on my feet.”

Andrew was signposted to the Expert Patients Programme, which lasted 6 weeks.

“It was daunting at first as there was a group of six people who were all going through their own problems. The tutor made us all feel really relaxed though and each week we learnt about different ways to help improve our own lifestyles and, ultimately, improve how we felt about ourselves. We also had plenty of opportunities to ask questions in a 1-to-1 setting if we needed to.”

Participants on the Expert Patients Programme will learn about goal setting, problem solving, healthy eating and exercise, relaxation techniques, better communication and planning for the future.

“The programme really helped me to understand what was causing my anxiety issues, and to learn how to relax.  It’s helped me to become more resilient and to cope better with stressful situations. I’m living a healthier lifestyle because of the things I learnt, and my general well-being has improved massively as a result.”

Following this programme, Plus Dane put Andrew in touch with the Changing Lanes project, which Andrew still attends.

“Changing Lanes feels like home to me. It’s a weekly session during which we discuss addiction, and ways in which we can improve our well-being and take control of our addictions. ”

Changing Lanes has enabled Andrew to feel more comfortable around other people, and he now finds making conversation much easier. It has also given Andrew a network of people that he feels he can turn to if he needs them.

“Now that my health has improved and continues to do so, I’m seriously looking for part-time work opportunities so that I can continue to build on my journey to success. Attending these two programmes has given me a new lease of life. My advice to anyone in a similar position to the one I was in would be to go and give it a try.  No matter how shy or nervous you are, these programmes are all about making you comfortable. I’d hate to think what I might be doing now if Plus Dane hadn’t put me in touch with them.”

Usman Ashiq, strategic partnerships manager at Plus Dane Housing, said: “At Plus Dane Housing we see ourselves as more than just a land lord. We work with a great range of support services for anything from helping people back into employment, accessing different qualifications and training opportunities or paying more attention to physical and mental health and well-being. We encourage any of our tenants to come and speak to us about what we can do for them.”