Support in the round

A voluntary circle of support has helped
Helena Borodzicz to take control of her own money and her own

My earliest memory is of being thrown down the
stairs by my father. I have learning difficulties, but I am not
sure if I always did, or if it was because of being beaten by my
father. At the age of four, I was taken into care.

Since leaving my foster family when I was 18,
there have been many changes in my life. There is one thing that
makes me feel particularly cross. One New Year, when all my
neighbours had gone back to their families for Christmas, I was so
lonely and miserable that I accepted an invitation from an older
man I had met in a pub to go back to his house. I now know that
that was a bad idea, but at the time I was not thinking clearly.
Later that night he raped me. A few days later he made a pass at a
friend of mine. She was so upset that the police got involved. My
day care team leader came with me and helped me to talk to the
policewoman. She was lovely. While we were talking about what had
happened to my friend, I told her about what had been done to

The man was arrested. I had to have some
medical tests, which were really scary. The police said they
believed me and wanted to charge him. The case never went to court
because the people who make these decisions thought I would not be
able to cope. The man said he was guilty of the attack on my
friend, so she didn’t have to go to court either. I was glad not to
have to go into court but also angry because I did not get my

I had to move house because I was no longer
safe. I moved to a house in another area of town. I thought I would
be safe there, but it was not long before the local children
started making my life a misery. They bullied me, abused me, wrote
rude words on my house and broke my cable telephone link. I had to
get taxis to go places and even then still had to face up to the
children in the alleyway between the road and the house. At the
same time, my support was cut to eight hours a week, probably to
save money.

My friend and former key worker Joan Cupples
got in touch and asked if I would like to be helped by a “circle of
support”. She explained that it would be a few local people who
were not being paid who would help me because they liked me. I
quickly said yes. I had been ripped off badly by people, so the
first thing Joan and I did was open a bank account together, which
we both had to sign to get the money out. This has worked
brilliantly. Over the past couple of years I have paid off all my
debts and have been able to save. I have also bought whatever I
wanted when I wanted it.

A few months ago I moved into a council flat
in a building where most of the people are older. There are no
children to bully me. I can walk into town and my daytime
activities include going to college, volunteering and doing paid
work. I am determined to get healthy again and have some fun in my
life. I am going to Disneyland Paris with my old friend Deb, a
community service volunteer. I can afford to pay for us both
because I am now in control of my own money and, more and more, my
whole life.

Helena Borodzicz is a service user with
learning difficulties. She was helped in writing this article by
Joan Cupples

More from Community Care

Comments are closed.