Actress Denise Welch meets with clients of mental health service Aviary House  AN actress who has faced battles with depression has praised the work of a mental health service helping people lead independent lives.

EastEnders and Loose Women star Denise Welch has visited a service which is helping people with depression, anxiety and a range of other mental health challenges live with minimal support.

Denise met with residents of Aviary House in Solihull to discuss mental health issues and discover how the £3m facility has helped them.

The building was opened 12 months ago and provides homes for 28 people who each have their own self-contained flats and enjoy the use of communal areas. The service is run by Home Group, the UK’s largest care and support provider.

The actress heard from residents about how the service had helped them in the year it has been open.

Denise said: “I enjoyed chatting with residents and learning more about how Aviary House is helping them to live independently. The clients there were clear that without a service such as this they would be in hospital or potentially worse.

“The staff offer people support with activities many of us take for granted such as shopping or keeping doctors’ appointments. I know having suffered from depression that having a support network is vital, for me that was family and I was lucky they were there.

“Without that network though things can fall apart and that’s why investing in services like Aviary House is important, every town should have an Aviary House.”

Aviary House has been built in the Smith’s Wood area of Solihull and forms part of a wider regeneration of the area.

Vicky Sharp, Home Group senior client services manager, said: “We’ve been delighted to welcome Denise to the service where she has shared her story with clients. Denise has spoken publically in the past about her battles with depression and it has been encouraging for our clients to hear from her first hand.

“Having such a high profile star speak on the subject helps to tackle stigma around mental health, which still exists in some quarters. She took a great interest in our clients and how the service has bene operating during the last year.”

Councillor Karen Grinsell, Solihull Council’s cabinet member for adult social care and health, said: “Aviary House enables people with complex mental health conditions to live with minimal support so that they can enjoy near independent lives whilst still being able to access support as and when they need it.

“Since the opening of Aviary House, we have consistently seen improved outcomes for tenants’ which has in turn saved the Council money.

“I am delighted that we have such a scheme operating in Solihull, offering local residents excellent facilities at an affordable rate.”

Aviary House is spread over two buildings with the main building containing 20 flats and another small building comprising eight flats.

Four of the flats are reserved for a respite service for clients who only require short term support.

Staff are on hand 24/7 to help clients lead near independent lives and offer support when needed.

CAPTION: Actress Denise Welch meets with clients of mental health service Aviary House

A video of Denise’s visit can be found at: http://bit.ly/aviaryvisit

Case Study

Aviary House resident Jason Durbar, 45, has lived in Home Group supported housing for 11 years. He suffered a mental breakdown in his early 20s and periods living completely independently were not successful.

He said: “It was really good to meet with Denise and share experiences of mental health issues. I’ve lived in this service for 11 years and Aviary House is a huge improvement on the old building.

“Here I have my own self-contained flat rather than just a private bedroom. Having my own bathroom, sitting room and kitchen means I can live much more independently and develop skills such as cooking and budgeting.

“I used to have my own flat but I found it difficult to cope. The staff here help me with that and help me attend doctor appointments and remind me about taking my medication on time.

“There’s a real sense of community in Aviary House and the residents have all been welcomed by the neighbours and the wider community.”