I had recently moved back to York after living in Leeds for 20 or so years, and although I had been brought up in York most of my friends had moved on or had families of their own and we had lost touch. I’d moved back to be nearer to my mum, sister and nephew, but found myself somewhat isolated. Whilst living in Leeds I’d had fairly intense support from the forensic mental Health Team and my Housing support worker from Leeds Mind. Although I had been referred to York mental Health Services I was considered ‘Stable’ and not in need of the services. Whilst mainly I agreed I still needed something or rather some means of meeting others and having social contact. Within a week of moving into my flat I’d had an accident which had left me unable to get out and about as I had first planned. Whilst generally I coped well, the enforced staying in meant that my anxiety about going out and particularly around meeting other people became an issue once again. I felt very self-conscious due to having to walk with a stick and worried about what people would think. I first heard about Kyra from my mum, I had always enjoyed writing and her counsellor had told her about the new Kyra women’s project and that there would bea creative writing course starting which I would maybe be interested in. I wasn’t able to get along to the open day so I decided to look Kyra up on Google. I did and also noticed they had a drop in on a Tuesday afternoon. As it was a fairly new project I thought it would be good for me as it meant I wouldn’t be going into an already established group as an ‘outsider’ which is something I find very difficult.

I started going to the Tuesday afternoon drop in at the beginning of January, for the first few weeks I seemed to be the only one there, with the exception of a few people dropping in for information about the project. I was warmly welcomed by Yvonne and the volunteers who run the drop in. I also started the creative writing group and met a few other people. Since I started going the drop in has really picked up and I have met and made a few good friends through going. I also go to the Saturday drop in on the 1st and 3rd Saturday in the month. I have done the Creative writing group, budgeting skills and am now doing a skills for work course. I am looking at finding work or going to college, which is something I haven’t been able to consider in a long time.

What particularly appeals to me about Kyra is that women from all walks of life are welcome, you don’t need a ‘label’ or particular issue to attend. All the workers and volunteers are very welcoming and friendly as are the other women I’ve met through Kyra. Kyra has given me the opportunity to meet people socially in a safe friendly environment. I also feel like I am accepted for who I am which is very important for me. Too often in the past I feel I’ve been judged because of my past, my mental health issues and more recently because of my physical disability. Everyone I have met at Kyra have been really supportive and encouraging. I have gained confidence both personally and socially. I have also made new friends.

J