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Aylah is a single woman. We reconnected with her in March 2020 through our 1 to 1 support calls. She told us she'd recently experienced severe domestic violence and could no longer stay where she was living.
Aylah also has psychological problems relate to physical and sexual abuse suffered in childhood and further trauma experienced in adulthood. Aylah’s housing situation was creating a high mental health and physical risk. Aylah had been asking to move out of the area for a long time. She wanted to rebuild her life, feel safe and reduce her exposure to triggers of her abuse.
She spent over a year trying to advocate for herself and coordinate across the council, her GP, her clinics and with lawyers to move. But she was getting nowhere. She felt ‘lost in the system’, was starting to give up hope, and expressed suicidal ideation.
Aylah was also highly vulnerable to covid-19 because of her physical health issues. Due to her uncertain housing situation this had led to antiretroviral nonadherence and to a very low CD4 count. Previous incidents of pneumonia had left her immune system compromised. She was especially vulnerable to new infections which could have been life threatening. Aylah’s GP was also in another borough and she could not access any medication at this time. Further debilitating physical health conditions would often leave her spending long periods on bed and using aids, including a wheelchair to move around.
Aylah was referred to the casework team. A team member supported her both across 1 to 1 support calls and through casework. It was quickly recognised that there needed to be an integrated approach to address her emotional and social needs.
With her consent, we contacted her social worker and clinical psychologist, who'd been working with Aylah for a long time. With his help, we set up a professionals’ meeting with all those working with Aylah to have a coordinated approach to urgently respond and advocate for her needs. From these biweekly meetings, Body and Soul’s specific role became to advocate with the housing team at the council. We also helped Aylah to correspond with her housing lawyers as she was finding it too stressful to do alone.
After 3 months of close coordination, we successfully managed to advocate for Aylah to be moved. In summer 2020, she moved into a new home in Waltham Forest where she feels safe and can start to build a life again.
Now she has moved here, professionals continue to meet regularly to help her get set up in her new home. We have advocated for additional support so she can manage in her home with her physical health needs, and for the things that make a house a home. This includes applying for a grant for much needed furniture.
We have also helped her register with a local GP so she can now also get the medication for her mental and physical health. We are in the process of helping her register at Homerton hospital HIV clinic where we have direct contact with the social work team. That way we can continue to provide a coordinated response.
Aylah wrote us this email at the end of September 2020:
“I say all that to say that your support means a lot to me and has given me some of my voice back...As challenging as things may be, I now have a place I can call home...I am a big advocate of childhood trauma I love that now Body & Soul are now focusing a lot more on this. Because the adults we end up being despite all the pain and quite possibly Being re-triggered later on in life really takes a lot of anyone even those who support us...Thank you for giving me the space and honestly your energy your energy.”
Body and Soul have been a consistent presence for Aylah throughout this time. We continue to provide Aylah with bi-monthly calls to check in on her wellbeing and ensure she has a support network around her.