Vanessa's Story

Vanessa talks about how good housing has led to good mental health

Life hasn’t been good, if I’m honest.

I lost my brother when I was nine and then my dad walked out on me, my mum and my sister … then I lost my nan in 2010. After I moved here, I had my little boy, but he died at four months. There has been a lot of pain.

I remember the landlord I had before P3. I had been living with my mum in Nottinghamshire. We were getting evicted, and I was looking at places in Gainsborough. That’s when I moved in here with Mum, she lived with me at that point because she didn’t have anywhere else to go.

They only cared about getting the rent …

The property had untreated wooden doors at the front and back. They were cold and not safe – you could hear the wind coming through and you could see daylight under the door and people walking past. My cat used to sit there watching people go by.

There were holes in the walls and the landlord had just put boxes of sanitary towels in to fill them up. There were six of them in the doorframe when I moved in. I kept telling them and they kept ignoring me, because they only cared about getting the rent.

There was no flooring, no carpet and no lino, just the slats they built on, bare and untreated. I lived like that for a couple of years – I couldn’t be living like that again.

They never cared about safety or anything like that.

Once I walked out of the front door and three bricks fell out and nearly hit me … I had a very weird experience, because I felt like something actually pushed me out of the way to stop me getting hit, something actually saved me …

I’ve been living in this house since October 2016, but I didn’t find out P3 had acquired the property until Rachel came and knocked on the door and told me! I said it was OK. I felt a bit nervous because I have depression and anxiety, and I wasn’t expecting anyone to just pop round and say they were the new landlord! But the meeting went really well. Rachel and I got a connection together … I really connected with her. It felt so good after a landlord who treated me like I wasn’t there.

And Rachel was not happy when she looked around the flat!

She said: “They left you like this?”

I said: ‘Yeah.”

She said: “We’ll get on to it.” And P3 did.

P3 got measurements for the front and back door and it took about a month for the doors to be done and put in. I felt so much safer. Then the floors got sorted. My flat is a bit of a mess at the moment, but I’m getting on top of that.

I feel better now.

My anxiety and depression aren’t so up in the air. The doctor has put me on different tablets and that helps me with my mood, but it’s also living in a safe place where you don’t have to worry about unsafe wooden doors and things that need to be done getting done …

I’m feeling a lot better these days, and I’m really excited about getting a new kitchen! It’s going to look so nice. I really like cooking. I like making homemade curry from scratch and roast chicken Sunday dinners. I know what salt and pepper pots I want as well!

If I were still with my old landlord, if I’m honest, I don’t think I’d still be alive.

It was that bad.

They weren’t doing their work. There was a time when my mum, who had the same landlord, had some sweets in for trick-or-treaters at Halloween and the landlord sent some contractors in, and they ate the sweets and £80 of her food … But now, with the P3 Maintenance Workers Tony and Andy, if I’m working and they need to go in, I know I can trust them to go in, do the work and come back out. Rachel will message me to tell me when they’re in and when they’re out. I can trust them all.

I can open up to Rachel. She’s been really, really good. Without her and the handymen, I wouldn’t have my new doors or kitchen or anything like that. She also gave me her mobile number and email address so I can just message or email if I have any problems. I can just take a photo and send it to her and she’ll say that it’s on the books to be dealt with.

And it’s not just about any problems with the house … I’m an ex self-harmer, so if I’m depressed or having suicidal thoughts, I can talk to Rachel.

She said that if I ever need to talk, I can just text or ring.

She wants me to be safe and happy. I haven’t self-harmed for a year. I mean it. I’ve stopped now and I’m proud of that … I don’t drink any more either. I feel better now that I’m off all that.

So, what do I do now? Well, I really enjoy doing diamond art! It occupies my mind … I’m doing a tiger picture at the moment for my mum because she likes it too. She’s doing an Egyptian-themed one herself because she’s really interested in Egypt – she’s Egypt-mad!

Housing is so important. You need good housing for your mental health. And I get support from Rachel, she’s always there if I need her. If someone is at the door and I don’t like them, I message her, and she can advise me. She’ll tell me just to stay in the house until she can get there. If something’s up with the house or with me, emotionally, she’s there.