Students of life volunteer at Spalding shop

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Being healed from the inside out is what has transformed Carly Elmer from a young woman in a wheelchair afraid to go out to becoming a confident person in charge of a new Spalding shop.

Carly, who lives independently in her own home in town – and walks only occasionally with a stick – puts the metamorphosis down to God being her healer.

The Lighthouse Project Spalding shop volunteers 'Anna Bevan, Anna Jones, and Carly Elmer. Photo: SG171214-104TW

The Lighthouse Project Spalding shop volunteers 'Anna Bevan, Anna Jones, and Carly Elmer. Photo: SG171214-104TW

She is also one of the success stories of The Lighthouse Project in Spalding.

Executive director Jenny Tedbury explains that the project is a small local charity that runs homes in Spalding, one for teenage mums and babies, another for young people of both sexes aged 16 plus with complex needs, such as drug issues.

Karis House is a home for young people with what Jenny calls “life controlling” issues, such as anorexia, self-harm, depression and anxiety, people generally not coping well with life.

Carly (28), volunteer manager at The Lighthouse Project’s new shop in the Sheepmarket, says her problems began at nine when she was diagnosed with a personality disorder. Since then she has been in and out of the NHS system and struggled to cope with life.

She says: “I ended up breaking my back and being physically disabled. I fell off a balcony. That was five years ago. That just made things a lot worse because it limited the support I could get.”

Whereas other agencies were unable to deal with the physical disability, Carly says Karis House was “very accepting”.

She says: “I came thinking they would focus on my psychological issues but I was actually physically healed as well. It’s almost unbelievable to think where I am now after two years. I couldn’t have imagined then I’d be running a shop.”

Support worker Gemma Topham adds: “It was amazing watching her transformation because you saw her heal from the inside out.”

Carly, like other “students of life” in the project, had to go through a rigorous interview process to be accepted, to protect the girls already in the house and because, as Jenny says: “The most important thing is the girl is determined to get better and live an independent life.”