Tony, the Bridge Worker assigned to work with Elaine, when they first met he found her to be extremely anxious and withdrawn. As Elaine had lots of issues to tackle and as to not overwhelm her, Tony worked with Elaine providing her with miniscule targets to achieve instead of a massive long list which would panic her. An example of this was something most of us take for granted – to wear a watch so she knows what time it is so she can plan and ensure she is on time for appointments etc. Elaine said such a small action made such a huge difference to her life and ticked that off as an achievement allowing her to move onto her next target…

Elaine’s Bridge Worker gave her one to one support attending initial appointments with her until her confidence started to grow.  “With Tony’s help I started volunteering in the cafe at Azure Garden Centre in Cramlington. I did this for three weeks then they offered me a 13 week paid work placement. I haven’t had paid work for almost five years!”

On her first visit to Azure to meet the Cafe Supervisor, Elaine was very anxious and was visibly shaking. The supervisor agreed to find Elaine a nice quiet place to work and at her own pace.

“I was very nervous meeting my supervisor who was very understanding and not pushy at all. She made suggestions rather than telling me what to do.”

Elaine is working 21 hours a week on her placement in the cafe covering three days a week. Her role involves serving food orders to the cafe customers, clearing and cleaning tables and of course chatting to the customers, something that previously would have terrified her.

“I was a quivering, jibbering wreck before and now I feel like a proper person and have a purpose. I wanted help to change and haven’t looked back since I was referred onto Bridge.”

Before enrolling on the Bridge Project Elaine was attending Talking Matters Northumberland who offer free treatment and support for residents in Northumberland on a range of mental health issues.

“I don’t have to go to Talking Matters now and they said I can self refer if I ever feel the need to.” This is another positive step in Elaine’s journey…

Before joining the project Elaine’s home life was quite fraught as she was snappy and bickered with loved ones. She felt like she was living in a bubble and even going to the shops for essentials was a terrifying experience for her.

“Just walking around the supermarket scared me and the thought of someone talking to me was hard for me, but now I talk to everyone!”

Tony and Elaine’s family say she is like a completely different person now and is always smiling – a far cry from the anxious, nervous lady we first met in the summer.

The Manager at Cafe Azure commented on what a difference Elaine has made to her life.

“Elaine is doing fab, she is a totally different lady to when I first met her.  After only two days, she is really enjoying it and gets on well with everyone.  Her confidence is growing every day and she is looking forward to coming back tomorrow and at her request wants to come in later as she is enjoying it at busy times.”

Although this is a placement which could lead to a permanent job, Elaine isn’t thinking that far ahead she is just enjoying and loving every minute of it and taking each day at a time.

“Tony has been amazing and so supportive. Everyone is commenting how much I’ve changed. I smile all of the time now, I feel so positive and I’m so grateful for all of the support I’ve received from Bridge.”

Elaine has now been signed off from the Bridge Project. She is very excited about her future and we are really proud of how she’s turned her life around. Elaine is looking forward to her first pay cheque which she will get on Christmas Eve…what an amazing Christmas gift and an amazing achievement. Well done Elaine…

What Difference Is Bridge Making?

  • Building trust with individuals
  • Goal setting at a pace that’s best for the person
  • Reducing stress and anxiety
  • Helping to improve family relationships
  • Improving confidence and reducing social isolation
  • Working in partnership with other organisations to support the person

What’s next for Elaine?

  • Elaine has exited Bridge as she has secured employment with Azure!

Consent has been obtained by Elaine to use her information and images in this story.