Your stories

Keith's Story

31st May 2020


Keith, aged 60, is a long-standing member of member of Shine, born with spina bifida.  

Sad memories of long spells in hospital without his parents haunt him to this day, although he was determined not to let his condition hold him back. 

Keith enjoyed a fulfilling career working in a factory, and later as a social worker, making the decision in 2002 to take early retirement. 
Shortly after, Keith’s health and mobility deteriorated, and he became a full-time wheelchair user. 

This was a huge challenge for Keith, who struggled emotionally with his new restrictions until earlier this year, when he got in touch with Shine to see how we could support him to feel less lonely, get out more and join new social groups. 

On anti-depressants and receiving regular calls from his community Psychactric Nurse, he was reaching out for help.  

Fast forward to March, and the COVID-19 pandemic - resulting in nationwide lockdown - put a stop to Keith’s plans before they could even begin. Horrified at the thought of being ‘trapped’ in his house indefinitely, Keith’s mental health suffered – telling Shine he has battled depression for the past few years and at times, felt suicidal. 

Shortly after, Keith received a call from Laura, a community support worker for Shine as part of the charity’s pro-active campaign to contact vulnerable members during the Coronavirus crisis. 

Although he has good days and bad, Keith says a daily call from Shine helped him to embrace his new lockdown life and make the most of quality time with his dog Jesse. Shine also connected him with Deborah, a telephone befriender from the charity Live at Home to provide contact between his daily carer visits. 

Both Shine and the Live at Home scheme have given Keith the opportunity to talk and share. He says, “It’s very reassuring that people care, it helps to improve my mood if I’m having a low day – I enjoying listening to their life experiences and sharing mine”. 

Incredibly, lockdown has inspired Keith to put pen to paper and write his autobiography. “It’s been an ambition of mine for many years, but there was never a right time to do it”. To date, Keith has written over 14,000 words! Sharing the stories he’s written has become a highlight of his phone calls with Shine, and Deborah, and we love hearing them. 

Keith asked us to share his story as he hopes to help others who may also be struggling at the moment.  

“Motivating myself to write my autobiography has given me a purpose – a reason to get up in the morning. Some days have been very long but writing for 3 hours a day has really helped the time pass. Some of the stories I’ve written about have made me realise how much I’ve had to fight for things, for example, back in the late 80’s going for job interviews and being told not to bother staying for the interview because of my crutches and having a disability is one example of the battles I faced. The best thing I did was work for the council as a social worker – they looked at me as an equal and I felt wanted".  

Laura, a Shine Support Worker, says “Keith is an incredible man with some really interesting life stories, both happy and sad.  He’s worked so hard to overcome his emotions of loneliness and channelled them positively into something that one day will be a finished account of his life. Keith welcomes the day he can visit his local pub again and join new groups making an imprint on his future ‘new friends’ lives. Until then, he’s staying safe at home with his dog Jesse.  

Thank you, Keith, for allowing us to share your story, you are an inspiration to us all. Shine can’t wait to read in your autobiography in full and meet you in person to shake your hand for staying so strong during this awful time.”    

Our members need us

“For just £10, a Shine support worker can check in on someone like me.

Every £10 you donate will pay for another of these potentially life saving calls.

You can make a donation online by visiting or by calling 01733 555988. Please give what you can so that Shine can help others like me through this difficult situation.

Thank you!”


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