My name is Nicola Williamson and I have been involved with Ceartas for about four years now. Due to extremely difficult circumstances I had to move very suddenly from my home in Kirkintilloch where I had lived for 17 years. This meant a lot of involvement with various agencies, who I sometimes struggled to deal with, such as the Housing Department and the Social Work Department. The circumstances which triggered my having to move also led to deterioration in my mental health and I found myself spending a long period in hospital at this time.
I had been working with my advocacy worker, Andy, for a long time so I had come to know him well. While I was in hospital, he attended meetings on my behalf and put forward my views at a time when I was unable to do this for myself.
I have never been a fan of meetings so having Andy there to prepare me for them was excellent. Andy worked with me before each meeting and helped me to organise paperwork as well as have questions planned in advance. This helped to build my confidence and attend future meetings on my own; putting my point of view across myself.
The location of the temporary accommodation I had moved to left me feeling very isolated and I missed the familiar environment of Kirkintilloch as well as the normality of living there. My life had been turned upside down over night and I felt trapped and frightened.
Andy spoke with the Housing Department on my behalf and with his help I was able to successfully move back into the Kirkintilloch area of East Dunbartonshire. However, it was not a straight forward move as I was initially offered unsuitable housing on two occasions. Fortunately, with support from Andy, I was able to explain why these offers were unsuitable and eventually I was offered somewhere appropriate.
I love my house now! It was a very successful move and I feel that I have come back to where I belong. It was a difficult and complicated process I had to go through but Andy, and several of the Ceartas staff, were at the heart of helping me through this and my being able to express myself. Andy listened to me at a time when I needed support and he took the time to find out what it was I really wanted. I feel that Ceartas Advocacy is a lifeline to people in the East Dunbartonshire Area. When you are feeling low, Ceartas is a voice on your behalf.
*Nicola is now involved in Ceartas’ Still Game service user group and attended a Ceartas board meeting as a representative of that group. Nicola is also instrumental in other projects locally.