‘I just feel overwhelmingly lucky’
… so says Terry Cyrille, who approached Stoll in 2019 in need of help. He now lives at the Sir Oswald Stoll Mansions in Fulham.
Stoll is the UK’s leading provider of supported housing to veterans. It supports the most vulnerable Service leavers by providing them with an affordable home to rent and the support they need to lead independent lives.
One Stoll beneficiary is Terry, now aged 50, who served in the Army Reserves for more than 20 years. He had a full and varied Reserve career with the Royal Yeomanry, Royal Engineers and Royal Army Medical Corps, taking part in exercises and attachments with regular units across the UK and Europe, as well as operational tours in Bosnia and Iraq. When not on deployment, Terry supported his unit as part of the training staff team, training new recruits.
Then, on the way back from a training camp in Scotland in 2017, Terry collapsed in agony. Doctors weren’t able to diagnose what was wrong and he embarked on many months of difficult hospital visits, examinations and operations to try to find the cause of his illness. During this time Terry had major surgery on his gut and became severely weak.
Terry was finally diagnosed with T-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma and, after chemotherapy and other drugs didn’t work, was told to prepare for the fact that he might only have a very short time to live. As a last attempt, the doctors tried a new form of stem cell therapy. Miraculously it started to work.
Having spent 15 months in hospital, Terry was finally discharged in April 2019. He was in a bad way and had nowhere to live. He had lost the flat he had previously been renting due to being in hospital for so long. Even as a priority case, the local authority was only able to find him temporary accommodation in a hostel.
Terry spent 15 months in hospital, meaning he lost the flat he had been renting
Terry was still very ill and in need of stable housing. It was at this point that a friend in the military pointed Terry towards Stoll. Terry made an application to Stoll and was invited to come in for an assessment. On the day he visited the Sir Oswald Stoll Mansions in Fulham, he was offered a flat.
Terry has now settled in to his one-bed flat at Stoll, which he says is contributing to his ongoing recovery. While he doesn’t know how his health will fare over the next few years, he feels optimistic and is ready to embrace whatever life brings.
Terry says, ‘I’m so grateful to Stoll for giving me a stable base where I am supported and where I can start to rebuild my life. Now that I am settled, I am looking forward to taking on new challenges and experiences. Stoll are supporting me to try new things and it’s great that there are so many health and well-being activities on offer. I have already been supported by a Health & Well-being grant to try an art class at the local college, which has led me to want to try new things and develop new skills.’
Having experienced depression, Terry now sees a counsellor to help look after his mental health. He is also still undergoing various medical treatments for muscle wastage, nerve damage and other conditions, as well as receiving platelet boosters and gastric check-ups. Stoll’s central location and supported living set-up helps Terry to manage all of this and to feel supported as he does so.
Terry believes that good mental health is key to recovery. He says, ‘It’s so important to talk to others about how you are feeling – something that doesn’t always come easy in the military – and develop and maintain a positive outlook. Coming to terms with life-changing and often difficult experiences is important. There were a few times when it really looked like I might not make it. Those were lonely times but now I just feel overwhelmingly lucky.’
He continues: ‘Stoll really picked me up when I was at my lowest point. It’s a really nice place to live and the staff here are very supportive. When I first arrived, I used to get out of breath just leaving my flat but now I can walk the couple of miles to the museums in South Kensington. I’m looking forward to taking part in a bicycle maintenance course that Stoll is running in February. As my health improves I’d like to try other activities too and I know that I can be supported in this by Stoll.’
Find out more
Stoll has been providing support to the Veteran community for more than 100 years and is here to support the next generation of Veterans. For more information about finding a home with Stoll or accessing support, please click here or call the Outreach Team on 020 7385 2110.
Stoll’s drop-in runs every second Wednesday of the month at its Fulham site (see above), in the Community Hall
Main image: Terry (seen here in Afghanistan) had a full and varied Reserve career