Claire finds strength and positivity helping others overcome trauma and adversity

Claire’s story

This story is part of the Peer Power series – a photographic collaboration between professional photographer Jeff Hubbard and Peer Advisors.  Earlier this year (2022) they worked together to portray their stories in photographic and written form.  Each one is unique but all highlight the true value of harnessing people’s lived experience of adversity to become a force for good.

My background of growing up with quite a privileged lifestyle wasn’t without its challenges in life.  I have a rare blood disease that wasn’t diagnosed until I was growing up as a child.  Due to family circumstances, I eventually ended up living with my Mum permanently and moving onto a new life with her.

As time progressed onwards I became employed and got married.  More challenges came along as I ended up being in an abusive, manipulative and controlling marriage.  This created a lot of damage with relationships that I had on my side of the family.  In the end I had to make a life changing decision of going through a divorce and losing my long-term job through redundancy.

Eventually I had a severe nervous breakdown which started off my mental health problems with anxiety, stress and depression.  I never thought within my wildest dreams I could start the journey of rebuilding my life again as my whole world had been turned upside down.   Eventually I moved into private rental accommodation as the ex-martial home had to be sold and when I could no longer afford to live there, I contacted the housing authorities who sent a housing officer to see me and she managed to help and support me through my troubles.

During this time period I had run out of money and my housing officer had to arrange for me to use the Foodbank.  She kindly brought me a box of food with her each time she came to see me. Eventually I got my benefits all sorted out and moved into a one bedroom ground floor flat.

The day after I moved in, I decided to take the biggest leap of faith and try and reconnect with my Mum after 13 years of no contact.  She got back in contact with me and very slowly over the years to this day we have rebuilt our relationship. This takes hard work and commitment from both sides.  She even supported me making decision to go down the bankruptcy route due to financial difficulties from my past life which needed to be dealt with.

During the pandemic it was another life changing and challenging experience.  Being socially isolated from my family and friends was so hard and feelings of loneliness never seemed to go away.

I made use of my time by being accepted onto the Peer Advisor Programme with the St Giles Trust and now I am working towards gaining a qualification in Information, Advice and Guidance at Level 3 NVQ .  I now use my knowledge and life experiences to help support other people during their own life journeys. It’s so rewarding, inspirational and positive to offer support to people who really need it.

The biggest lessons in life I have learned is never bury your head in the sand, talk about it and get the help and support when you need it.

Claire Street

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