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Ahead of Refugee Week, local charity, Connection Support, launches new campaign to highlight the hardship and suffering many individuals and families go through when being forcibly displaced from their homes. Many of us will never know what it feels like to live in a place of war, conflict, or persecution, desperately hoping for a brighter … Read more

Muslim Mother Hugging Daughters In City Park

I wasn’t in my country before coming to the UK. My daughters and I were in a different country going through harsh conditions and pressure. Our lives were all misery and sadness, there was nothing joyful in it, we suffered a lot. I didn’t know what would happen to us. When I heard that my … Read more

Fully Freely Alive 2240 X 1260

When I come to Oxford in 2019, I didn’t have anyone. I was sleeping in the road, the park. Some Kurdish people, from my country, they live here. Same culture, so they help. They give me food. One week I sleep there, one week another place. One guy said to me, ‘Go to Asylum Welcome. … Read more

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The NRPF project is designed to help people with ‘no recourse to public funds’. Those individuals are typically at the bottom of the pile, when it comes to accessing services. Covid kind of changed everything. During the pandemic, the Government had a scheme called ‘Everyone In’, which included this group. That raised a lot of … Read more

Naomi's Story

On the outside, Naomi* is a young, capable single mum to a four-year-old boy. She lives in a quiet, well-maintained flat and will often go about her day as usual; she’ll take her son to nursery and then go to work. But on the inside, life is not that simple. Diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, … Read more

Strategic

We’ve recently launched our new three-year organisational strategy, Prevention First. Our vision for 2027 is to be a thought-leader in the prevention of homelessness and mental ill-health, spearheading innovative services that prevent crises from happening, whilst being there to offer client-centred support when they do. Whether it’s due to homelessness or poor mental health, the … Read more

Alison And Michele

Although I had previously volunteered in various contexts, I had no experience of ‘befriending’ when I started supporting Freyer* in September 2023. All I had to draw on was experience of trying to be the best friend I can be to my friends and doing my best to be a compassionate line manager before I … Read more

An Open Letter... (2)

When I first heard about people advocating for ‘Neurodiversity’, I thought, “Hmm…sounds like a worthy cause, but it won’t affect me”.

Well, I think that is what I thought, since I cannot actually remember – either way, I had unconsciously judged what ‘type’ of person this would affect and never even considered that I could be one: I always knew I was weird, but that’s normal…right? Nevertheless, following an ADHD diagnosis years later, I found myself re-evaluating my life in light of being neurodivergent / neurodiverse (these terms seem to be interchangeable).

The term originated from a movement in the 90s that sought to increase inclusion for all whilst embracing neurological differences. 1 Growing numbers of Autistic people connected through online platforms, paving the way for people with ADHD, Tourette’s Syndrome, Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Sensory Processing Disorders and Down’s Syndrome to do the same. Naturally, the word has a diverse number of definitions, meaning that mental health conditions are sometimes included.2 Indeed, some people with these diagnoses do not identify themselves as neurodiverse!

“Very simply, neurodiversity refers to the different ways a person’s brain processes information” 3

Receiving my ADHD diagnosis was a shock, and I am still processing it now (no pun intended). Initially, I used it to justify unhealthy behaviours, I think because I was angry. Like many, many others, it took 7-8 years since the first diagnosis and various types of medication.4 My personal journey then involved 4-5 more diagnoses, 2 incidents of alcohol-induced suicidality following a breakup, 14 months of low mood followed by 14 months in supported accommodation and a repeat year at university. I think I was angry that this could have been avoided.

And yet, learning that I have a lifelong condition – contrary to previous research, children with ADHD do not grow out of it 5 – was a relief (rather like this colleague’s experience of being diagnosed). Yes, managing it will be hard: it’s like living with 20 walkie-talkies bleeping and chattering away. But it has always been hard! Now, with meds and various management strategies, I can find the volume controls more easily.

Furthermore, I could have had it much worse. I have been very blessed with getting a quick diagnosis and having ongoing psychoeducation from my neurologist. The waiting lists are long and some GPs are still poorly informed – the stereotypical presentation is based upon young males, meaning that ADHD in adult women (especially BAME) is frequently misdiagnosed or missed entirely.6 This makes having conversations to share awareness and accommodate one another is all the more important.

My reason for writing is not to say that it’s better or worse to be neurodiverse, but to celebrate the strengths and to raise awareness of the potential vulnerabilities. I may be a whizz at problem-solving, but if you spell your name out loud I may need you to say it two or three times before it’s gone in, due to poor auditory processing. I can empathise highly with colleagues and clients, but it may take 5-10 seconds for me to verbalise a sentence I want to say. Despite this, I am managing, because I have a strong support network, both at work and in my faith community. But many individuals – many clients – are overwhelmed and do not have the same space to flourish.

Getting to know them, allowing them to be weird and looking for different ways to accommodate their differences might just be life-changing. The most valuable thing for me was having people who genuinely listened. It helped me to accept myself, so I can now say…

I’m weird, but that’s normal.

 

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From today, we, alongside Refugee Resource, will begin helping Ukrainians navigate a new life in Oxfordshire.   The service, funded by Oxfordshire County Council, will provide individuals and families alike with mental health support, guidance to join local classes and groups, help with identifying training and employment opportunities, and much more. Both charities have extensive … Read more

An Open Letter...

On 6th March, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt will announce the Government’s 2024 Spring Budget.  Homelessness rates across the UK continue to rise each year, and despite the investments already made, both local services and local authorities are stretched to breaking point. Without additional funding, the Government’s target to end rough sleeping is a long way off. … Read more

Hannah Kara

I am a befriender with Connection Support, I take my ‘friend’ out for a coffee each week and we talk about different things and catch up about our week. I wanted to volunteer because I wanted to give something back to the community but also to be able to help people. Though I already had … Read more

Paul 2240 X 1260

I am a ‘befriender’, I visit someone for about an hour each week. I go for walks and chat about anything and everything. I will also be helping him renew his driving license and look to open a bank account for him. I encourage him to keep his personal hygiene up to a good standard … Read more