Sara's story

Sara is originally from Pakistan and has been living in the UK for 20 years. She has three grown up children and was introduced to Nur Fitness, who work with Step Forward Tees Valley, by a friend.

She was very apprehensive about coming to the first class as she was suffering from depression and was in a very vulnerable state. Sara is from the South Asian community and mental health is rarely discussed or acknowledged. Part of her issue was that she didn’t have anyone who understood what she was going through. Much to her surprise she loved the classes at Nur Fitness and started to open up to the staff about her mental health.

Nur Fitness knew that Step Forward Tee Valley would be able to give her support and help with her issues and reach her  potential. Sara was keen to learn more about the mental health and empowerment programme offered by Step Forward, and the sewing course, as it was in her own language. Up until then she had never felt like learning new skills as she is unable to write, read or speak fluent English. The programme understood her cultural needs, and the fact it was a female-only environment helped her husband support her.

Sara was very quiet, reserved, anxious and sad at the start of the programme, she wasn’t confident to share anything but the change in her is remarkable. She feels her mental illness has been recognised and is accepted by her and her family.

She said: “Now that I know I am not being dramatic and I genuinely have a recognised condition I don’t feel ashamed anymore and now I am confident to say I have issues and I can ask for help.”

Sara loved the introduction to social media programme which gave her the confidence to understand how her satnav works.  This meant she could drive to another city on her own for the first time to visit her mum. She didn’t tell her mum that she was coming and her family was all stunned when she turned up at the door. She said: “They didn’t believe that I came alone until they realised no-one else was with me. I have never felt this independent and free since I was in Pakistan.”

Sara is also grateful for how the course has helped her relationship with her kids. She said: “I never understood smart phones, internet and so on and so there was a huge cultural gap between me and my kids. They love the fact that now I get what they are talking about. We even watch and share stuff on YouTube with each other. I love the independence of going on the internet and being able to find things myself.”

Sara had always felt she needed to improve her English before she could work and had no idea that working from home could be an option. She has discovered she has lots of qualities and can learn new things even with her language restrictions. Sara is always smiling now and loves to keep learn. She still suffers from depression and has days when she struggles to get out of bed but she now recognises this and know who to call for help as soon as she feels low.