Helping others to help themselves
Nursing student Linda Sinclair had a dilemma – her study commitments threatened the pursuit of her chosen career in mental health. Juggling up to 40 hours of unpaid work placements each week meant the single mother from Luton had no time for herself, let alone a part-time job.
Linda knows about hard work, having spent 10 years as a support worker looking after elderly patrons with disabilities, including cerebral palsy. Every setback only served to increase her determination to work in the field and to help others that can’t help themselves.
She says people avoid seeking help because of the stigma surrounding mental health. The negative perception was something she wanted to change through her work. “Mental health problems can affect anyone at any time, whether in a positive or negative way. We’re all just people.”
Mental health has affected her family directly with her boys requiring special assistance for ADHD and vertigo, all of which added pressure to Linda’s schedule and finances. “I had some moments where I thought ‘Is it all worth it? Am I putting too much pressure on myself? Should I be at home with the kids?’ But I haven’t worked this hard to not finish,” she said.
Linda contacted ScotsCare, the charity that supports Scots and their families in and around Greater London, to see if she could get assistance to help her pursue her goals. She first learned of the charity from her mother, who was born in Springburn, Glasgow.
After evaluating Linda’s needs the charity offered an education grant for Linda’s studies, plus a household grant for carpeting and heaters for their family home. In addition, ScotsCare financed activities for her boys including swimming, badminton, tennis, arts and crafts. Together, they also joined the ScotsCare-sponsored Thames river boat ride and family day out at Winter Wonderland.
“They’ve helped massively, mainly so I can relax and enjoy being a mum and a student. It takes away some of those worries,” Linda said. “It’s something I could never thank them enough for.”
More than making life tolerable, ScotsCare staff ask if there’s any more they can do, Linda says. “They go above and beyond the call of duty, and say they can’t do too much.”
The charity also offers support through counselling, job coaching, befriending, and advocacy, as well as volunteer opportunities.
Linda plans to work with both adult and adolescent prisoners with mental health issues. To her, it didn’t matter how big or small the crime might be as she focused on the person rather than the crime that was committed.
I always wanted to do this career and I want to teach my kids that you’ve got to work for everything in life, no matter how long it takes”, Linda says.
“I love her so much,” Derrick said of his mother. “I think she’s going to be a good nurse because she’s got a good job and she works 100 percent.”
Linda says, “I love seeing how proud they are. When they’re proud of me it reinforces that I made the right decisions.”
*If you, your parent or spouse are Scottish, in or around Greater London, ScotsCare offers a counselling service to support you that you can access quickly.