The Haven

Isabella Fels
  The Haven is a supported and permanent home for people with mental illness, particularly those with schizophrenia. It opened in 2011 with the help of many individuals, companies and the government. There are 14 people who live there, including me. We each have our own unit. I have my own space and privacy. However we encouraged to mix. There is a communal living area where we get together to play table tennis, monopoly, and enjoy cooking groups. For many of us The Haven stands out for being the best place in the world.
Posted by: 
Isabella Fels on 31/01/2014
People walking along a path in a park.

We go on walks together.

The Haven is a supported and permanent residential place for people with mental illness, particularly those with schizophrenia. There are 14 residents who live there including me. I feel very lucky to be living at The Haven.

The Haven opened in 2011 and a lot of work and thought was put into it. Many individuals and companies donated things from cutlery to vacuum cleaners. The government also provided funding. St Joseph’s church rented out what used to be their convent. The result is a stylish, affordable comfortable unit for each resident.

 Settling in

It was easy and exciting settling into The Haven. I soon felt at home as I walked into my unit for the first time and relaxed on the comfortable couch with my mother and the manager. I was surrounded by beauty and luxury from a beautiful wooden dining table and matching chairs to a carpet you could really sink your feet into.

 The manager was right in telling me before moving into my beautiful flat that all I needed to worry about were my clothes and toothbrush. I also felt very lucky my rent is covered by my disability pension just like all the other residents.

Great place 

The Haven is located just off busy Chapel Street. For many of the residents The Haven stands out for being the best place in the world. Having my own space and privacy without being disturbed is like a dream come true. I don’t have to share the kitchen or television or telephone or washing machine with anyone.

However The Haven also encourages the residents to mix. There is a communal living area where residents get together to play table tennis, monopoly, and enjoy cooking groups. We also meet up for birthday parties, special dinners, and spring cleans that often include the parents who are recognised by staff and residents as being part of the community.

A unique place

The Haven is different to many residential places I have experienced, where there were tension and personality clashes between residents over all sorts of issues such as food, money, safety and hygiene.

Residents come into The Haven through a special selection committee which takes into account who is most suitable and likely to fit into the place, and so it works well because it has a congenial group of people.


As a testament to this harmony not one single resident has moved out since The Haven opened. We all help and look after one another and there is a great deal of trust. There is also hardly any conflict.

We all have fun sharing meals, coffees, doing creative art, going on walks and having a good old-fashioned chin wag. Since being at The Haven my social skills and confidence have improved, as I have become friends with staff and residents.

The staff members in particular have helped me develop my living skills in all sorts of ways; from helping me put on a load of washing to cleaning a toilet. I also have been able to air out any problems I have with them and I am not afraid to approach them. Thanks to them I have surprised myself with what I can do.

Feeling very lucky

On the whole I am very lucky to have such a great self-contained unit, which is worth its weight in gold as I grow old. It also has been very exciting to renovate my apartment and it now resembles a beautiful studio apartment that I love. All the other residents and I are definitely here to stay, since The Haven offers permanent care and residency.

We make a great group as we take an interest in each other, but give each other peace and quiet too. There is a great sense of community and unity, not to mention stability, about the place. The Haven offers the best of both worlds; privacy and friendship.

For more information please visit The Haven.


Readers comments (3)

That sounds great! I was wondering, with them carefully selecting the residents, do they choose only people who are able to discuss things reasonably, and not cause trouble for other residents?

Dear Isabella, as usual a lovely story of the Haven and your joy at living there. I haven't forgotten you...have been really exhausted by the holidays and heat. I'll call in 2 weeks, when it should begin to be cooler, and we'll make a time for meeting.
Love, Caroline

Isa, It's great news to hear about another success: living independtenly and enjoying it. You're very fortunate for sharing sucha a wonderful place but let's not forget you put a lot from your side. Your article, as usual, is particularly clear and eloquent, and a real pleasure to read. All the best, Isa, and thank you for such a good piece. Awaiting the next one,

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