My name is Heather, and I consider myself extremely fortunate to have been the very first resident of Haven Frankston. I can’t believe I‘ve been here over a month - it was well worth the wait to move in. It was a lengthy process to be able to finally move in, and at times I did wonder if it would ever actually happen.

It seems like a lifetime ago that my mum and I interviewed for Haven Frankston and initially I was hesitant to move into supported independent living; I had come to rely so heavily on Mum for support and I had some misconceptions about what it (supported independent living) might be like.

But I left the interview feeling hopeful; maybe I could live independently?

Haven Frankston is a supported independent living service for people dealing with mental ill-health. It was built by The Haven Foundation and Mind provides the support services. It consists of 18 fully self-contained apartments, along with communal facilities including a fully equipped kitchen where Sunday evening community dinners are prepared. There is a pleasant outdoor area too, complete with a barbecue and outdoor setting.

I have thoroughly enjoyed the past month, and the staff has really helped with the transition to living more independently. I just feel so lucky, and it has been a wonderful adventure getting settled; adjusting to a new routine, familiarising myself with the local area and learning to use all my appliances – even if the first dinner I cooked on my induction cooktop was an epic disaster!

There are group activities to participate in here at Haven, but the wonderful thing is that all the residents have their own space and choose what they want to take part in or what support they need – we all have the chance to actively work on our recovery alongside one another and Mind staff, which I’m finding so very helpful. I had never heard of supported independent living before, but I feel so fortunate to have been offered a place here.

You must be wondering about the title of this article: well, you see, I collect hedgehogs! It’s a long story, but the hedgehogs remind me to be happy, like a happy hedgehog. Growing up, my grandma affectionately called me her “Happy Heather”, but, for a long time, since I began struggling with my mental health, I had lost touch with Happy Heather. Since moving into Haven, and having a safe place to call home, Happy Heather has returned!

Of course, life isn’t perfect, but I can honestly say I am happy.

This has all been made possible by having my independence – something I feared I would never have again.My hedgehogs are quite at home in my apartment, reminding me to be happy and healthy!

Heather watering a plant