Forty-year-old Ricardo feels that his life has taken a change for the better since he moved into his new home in Herne Hill.
The placement with Southside Partnership is a five-bedroomed terrace house with large garden minutes away from the bustling Herne Hill ‘village’, with its extensive amenities and close to Brockwell Park.
Ricardo, who hails from the Portuguese island of Madeira, has been living in England for 13 years. Before he became unwell he was living in a flat in Tulse Hill. He ended up in hospital in 2010 after he started hearing voices and was diagnosed with schizophrenia. He was in hospital for about three months. His lack of English made him feel “isolated” though he was visited by his sister. He became stable after having depot injections, which he continues to have every two weeks.
On leaving hospital Ricardo moved to a hostel in Streatham. He is proud that he was “very independent” at the hostel. “I wasn’t escorted when I went out”, he adds, “I was pushing myself forward trying different routes when I went out.”
He also tried volunteering with First Step Trust’s gardening project. Ricardo lived at the hostel until he moved to a temporary placement in Streatham for three months. The move to his latest placement was facilitated by his care co-ordinator and a former member of the SWOT (Social Work and Occupational Therapy) team.
“I wasn’t happy in Streatham because my room was too small and I couldn’t have any of my belongings out,” says Ricardo. “I’m happy here because I have a much bigger room….”
He is also getting to know the other two residents who moved into the house shortly before him and is happy in the knowledge that there is support on hand from house key worker Earl Boothe.
As well as helping with the move, the SWOT team has helped him to think about his future with his Support and Recovery plan. The placement package gives Ricardo five hours of support a week and he is looking to have English tuition classes and has expressed an interest in photography – he likes “buying cameras and taking photographs”.
Ricardo is taking each day as it comes as he settles into his new surroundings. He enjoys going to Brockwell Park and likes to go out for coffee in Brixton; and in true Portuguese style enjoys eating pastel de nata (custard tarts).
He likes to watch TV and is a keen Arsenal supporter. He enjoys listening to music – Bon Jovi and Jimi Hendrix are his favourites. One of the best things that has happened to him is he now has a girlfriend called Isabella whom he met in Macdonald’s.
“It’s very good to have a girlfriend to keep me company and to have someone to share things with,” he says with a big smile, “she’s been encouraging me to speak more English.”
With this latest placement Ricardo feels inspired because he knows he is closer to achieving his dream of having his own flat and is looking to this happening within two years.