KELLYANN Kay is the poster girl for Bolton’s UCAN centres — after going from battling post-natal depression to running her own knitting group while passing her exams.
The UCAN centres — it stands for Urban Care and Neighbourhood — are run by Bolton at Home and can be a lifeline to people across the borough.
The centres, including UCAN Breightmet, in New Lane, offer free services to more than 600 people a week, including employment support, opportunities to train and gain qualifications, money and debt advice, and computer facilities.
Mrs Kay, also from New Lane, says her life has been transformed since she first set foot inside the centre.
She was suffering post-natal depression (PND) following the traumatic birth of her second child Jackson — and was encouraged by a neighbour to join the Knit and Natter classes.
Shortly after, with the help of her husband Paul, the mum-of-two was running the weekly class, which she renamed Naughty Knitters, and she was applying for a nursing degree which she will complete in September, 2016.
Mrs Kay said: “When I first stepped foot in the UCAN centre I wasn’t in a good place. I had not long had my son, Jackson, and was suffering from post-natal depression and post-traumatic stress. Now I call it my little wobble.
“I got chatting to a neighbour one day who was carrying knitting needles and she asked if I’d ever knitted before. I said I had when I was younger, so she asked me to join in with knitting class.
“It was the best thing I ever did. I even ended up running the class, which I renamed Naughty Knitters.”
Left at home with two young children on her own as husband Paul, a warehouse operative, went to work, the 29-year-old spent much of her maternity leave inside the house.
She said: “Being off work with this new baby and another young child whilst suffering with PND was really hard because my brain would go in overdrive. Going to the UCAN centre distracted my mind from what else was going on.
“My husband Paul has the children when I do the classes. He’s my rock. He is so supportive in everything I do.
“When my maternity leave ended I went back to work as a cleaner at the Royal Bolton Hospital but not long after then my confidence was so much higher that I decided to pursue my dream to study as a mental health nurse.
“Mental health is all around and after my problems after having Jackson I felt that was my calling. I have always wanted to do something like this since I was eight years old but never really had the belief I could do it.
“Coming to UCAN has brought me out of my shell a lot. Vanessa Hamnett, the centre manager has done so much to help me, such as ringing up student finances to sort my loan, which I wouldn’t have been able to do on my own because there were so many complicated forms.
“I owe my life and career to the UCNA centre. Without it I would never have had the confidence to change my life around.”
Vanessa said: “Kellyann is fantastic. Her nickname is Poster Girl because she is so inspirational and a great example of what people can do if they put their mind to something.”
Last month Mrs Kay was invited down to London for an award ceremony to represent the centre in the Community Impact Awards.
The centre won the Investing in People category for the Manchester area, and was highly commended for its range of support to local people, including employment services, financial support and digital training.
To find out about classes and services available at the centre, call Vanessa Hamnett on 01204 329538 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.