When back pain forced Akeela Shaikh from Bolton to leave her job as a healthcare assistant she also struggled to look after her ill relatives. She was helped through depression with a social prescription for volunteering.

I felt like I was living a nightmare. I lost my job as a healthcare assistant because of back pain. But my mum was also ill – I tried to look after her and my mother in law. I was just so stressed and depressed. I thought I was just, nothing. I used to take my depression tablets and sleep all day.

I went to see the nurse about my back pain and she said “Akeela, you need help”. She realised it wasn’t just the back pain that was a problem. I was really low and upset, struggling to look after my family. We talked around how I was feeling and the problems I was having. I was so sad that I could no longer work – I wanted to continue to be a part of my community.

The nurse referred me to a link worker, Joanne. This was a real turning point in my recovery. She listened and told me she could help me.

Akeela in her volunteer role

Joanne introduced me to Lagan’s Foundation a charity that works with children from birth to five who have feeding and heart difficulties. They needed someone to do office admin, so I met them and immediately felt one of the team.

It doesn’t seem as if I’m working as everything’s really relaxed but I’m doing what I love. I am able to care for people. That’s who I am. I lost my identity when I was no longer a healthcare assistant but this gave me back that part of me.

I’m very happy at the moment. I don’t feel stressed, I am part of the community. I have got my confidence back, so am now going out and socialising with friends.

Each morning I now wake up with a smile. I think I’ve got a bright future.

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