Paul Norbert is 44. He was given a course of medication and diagnosed with bipolar in his mid-20s and has had difficulty working ever since.
“Compared to other health problems bipolar and depression are still often affected by misunderstanding and stigma. It can affect every aspect of your life and your relationships. I want to be open and honest about the condition and help others who might be going through something similar. Many people don’t know what to say but just a few words of kindness can make a difference, even just asking how you are.” said Paul.
“It is important to get the right diagnosis and accept that treatment is necessary. There are many ups and downs along the way and I would be the first to admit that I haven’t always managed things in the best way possible. Sometimes you lose faith and just need somebody to talk to, somewhere to turn.
“The Seven Families project will help with day to day life and the counselling and emotional support may prove to be just as important as the money. But sometimes you just need to get away from it all. Living in London can be stifling and it will be nice to use some of the money to take a break and clear my head.”
As part of the Seven Families project Paul will receive financial support and advice to help improve his home life, aid rehabilitation and hopefully help him return to work.
Paul added: “I’m keen to get back to work and hope to retrain as a driving instructor. Although I am dyslexic I am working to obtain a degree with the Open University. I have also been working voluntarily in a youth club and would really like to get involved in more charity work.”
Peter Le Beau MBE and spokesperson for the Seven Families campaign said: “The campaign provides a tax-free income for one year. Each family will have access to financial advice from a range of volunteering financial advisers to help with basic finances and budgeting and they will also have the opportunity to benefit from independent living, rehabilitation and counselling services.”
Speaking about the project, Jason Jaspal from Disability Rights UK, added: “We campaign constantly for much faster and more effective support when somebody’s life changes through an accident or health condition. We hear from people daily who have to wait months for assessments (for employment and support allowance), while receiving ineffective or no support to resume work. This project will help us learn how different it can be when people do have resources, information and access to support on their own terms. We plan to draw on this learning to campaign for changes in social security and independent living support, which is in line with our aim to strengthen the voice of disabled people.”
Liz Sayce, CEO of Disability Rights UK, said: “We also want to test the difference it can make to get fast, effective support when you unexpectedly become disabled or develop a serious health condition, so you can get your life on track. Our campaign is for improved social security and independent living rights, for everyone – not the 2-tier system we have at present.”