At Concrete, we’re helping people start new chapters and build new, concrete futures.
This week, we’re sharing the story of 32-year-old Concrete customer Marie, who has been supported by us for the last two years.
When Marie was just 10 years old, her mum passed away. She struggled to deal with her emotions and started to self-harm as a coping mechanism.
Marie continued to self-harm throughout her life, and when her living situation became unstable four years ago, she found herself facing homelessness.
Marie was supported by different local services and came to Concrete in 2020 as part of the Covid-19 Everyone In initiative.
Everyone In saw partnerships between Concrete, Stoke-on-Trent City Council, Holiday Inn Express and Walk Ministries. On the government’s advice, we helped local people facing homelessness to self-isolate in a safe, comfortable place during the pandemic.
After Everyone In, Marie continued to be supported by Concrete and moved into our female-only scheme.
Thanks to her own dedication and lots of tailored support from us, Marie achieved a goal she never thought she’d reach – being free of self-harm for a whole year.
Marie wanted to share her story with us this week to inspire others and celebrate her achievement.
Marie said: “I started self-harming when I was 10 to release my feelings after I lost my mum.
“When I was 28, I became homeless after my living situation broke down. I stayed at a local homelessness shelter for around two years before coming to Concrete during Everyone In.
“After that, I moved into Concrete’s female-only service, where I had 24/7 support. During this time, I continued to self-harm because it felt like a way to release my emotions when things were difficult.
“One day I remember talking to a support worker, who told me that my mum, and everyone else that I’ve lost, wouldn’t want me to do this anymore. He had a tear in his eye and I remember realising that people really did care about me.
“I also knew that he was right, my mum wouldn’t want me to do it. That was a big moment for me – it made me completely stop.”
After self-harming for more than two decades, Marie said that it was difficult to stop, but she put steps into place and took control of her own journey, with Concrete staff there to guide her.
She said: “It was really hard at first. I remember having a box filled everything that I used to self-harm. I handed that into the office and said that I didn’t want it anymore.
“Everyone was so helpful and understanding. I couldn’t have done it without Concrete’s support.”
Marie also found creative ways to release her feelings, including crafting.
She said: “I’ve always been quite creative – I used to craft when I was at school.
“I really enjoy making bracelets and cards. I’ve even made posters for different Concrete schemes.
“It was and still is a great way to keep myself busy and express myself.”
Marie is now excited about her future and hopes to gain the qualifications she’ll need to work with children. She’s also due to start a brand-new chapter in the next few weeks. She’ll be moving on from our 24/7 staffed service to live in shared accommodation, to develop her independence.
Marie said: “I’m so excited to move into my new flat. I went shopping to get lots of things to decorate it with.
“It’s also quite overwhelming, but I’m reminding myself to breathe and take each day as it comes. I know that Concrete will always be there for me and I’ll have support from my Service Co-ordinator.
“I want to thank absolutely everyone for their support. There are so many people who have been there for me on my journey.
“If anyone is in the position that I was before, just reach out. I was always really stubborn and didn’t want to ask for help, but there is so much support out there.”
Marie’s Service Co-ordinator, Lauren, will continue to support Marie as she moves on to her new chapter. At Concrete, our customers mark their own path and we’re always there to help them every step of the way.
Lauren said: “As Marie’s Service Co-ordinator, I’m on the journey with her. I’m here for her as little or as often as she needs me.
“I’ll help her with everything from budgeting to registering for new local healthcare services.
“Marie’s biggest concern is that she will be abandoned, so it’s a case of building up her trust, showing her I’m here for her and knocking down those barriers.
“I’ve noticed such a change in Marie. Her confidence has grown so much – she has worked so hard to get to this point. We’re all really proud of her.”