Keith’s Big Aberdeen Story

Keith DuncanKeith was born and bred in Aberdeen. He spent 14 years working his way around the world as a truck driver with Formula 1. Following ongoing problems with alcohol and anxiety, he lost his job in 2007. After a stay in hospital, Keith was housed in temporary accommodation. He became overwhelmed by anxiety and stress, and found it difficult to leave his flat – running to the shops and back at 6am, and sometimes going without when he couldn’t make the trip. Keith also struggles with new situations and meeting new people.

Keith’s Housing Officer at Aberdeen City Council, Tracey, played a huge role in finding Keith a permanent tenancy and furnishing it. Tracey went the extra mile to support Keith and identified that some extra support from Penumbra would suit Keith’s challenges.

Initially working closely with one Penumbra recovery worker, Steve, Keith has gradually met a number of staff and now uses support to visit local coffee shops, go shopping, organise bills, and attend appointments. These are massive steps for Keith and it’s been an uphill struggle, but 9 months into working with Penumbra he reports that he’s feeling much better and happy to be going out and doing things.

Keith’s flat was undecorated when he moved in, the walls full of plastered up holes and twenty year old peeling paint. In the early days of his tenancy he struggled to accept that he finally had a place to stay. He’s doing much better now and feels settled and happy where he is. With some staff support he’s transformed the living room and bathroom and feels proud to show people his new place!

Keith is very much in control of the decisions affecting his life and his support, and is currently considering future steps such as accessing Re-Connect services with the Voluntary Service Association.

Aberdeen Issues from this Story

  • Permanent and secure tenancies for individuals with mental health problems
  • Support to assist people to live as part of their community

Penumbra is Keith’s STORYTELLER.

Penumbra is one of Scotland’s largest mental health charities. We empower people to look forward to mental wellbeing with personalised recovery-focused support. We also campaign to raise awareness of mental health issues and reduce the social stigma attached to them.

Penumbra’s Aberdeen Mental Health Service provides support to people with mental health issues in their own homes throughout Aberdeen City. We aim to assist people who use our service to maintain a tenancy and improve general health and wellbeing.

You can find out more about Penumbra at


  • VSA’s Reconnect offers a peer support service that allows and encourages individuals to access the community in a safe and appropriate manner. Engagement is key and, although overseen by a staff member, the focus is on the group and volunteers taking ownership of the service to ensure it remains meaningful and sustainable.
  • Instant Neighbour provides our local community with affordable furniture, electrical equipment, and childcare equipment and operates a  food bank
  • Personalised advice and information for managing your housing situation is available from
  • ADA (Alcohol & Drugs Action) provides a range of services for people who use drugs and alcohol, and their families and friends. We also offer services for those in recovery from drug and alcohol use
  • ACVO has been carrying out a mapping of mental health services and this database can be accessed at
  • Somebody Cares provides free support with food, furniture, clothes, and household good. Individuals can be referred through a social worker, healthcare worker, or agency like Penumbra, but can also make contact directly on 01224 200197
  • Alcoholics Anonymous is concerned solely with the personal recovery and continued sobriety of individual alcoholics who turn to the Fellowship for help.
  • Volunteering opportunities exist for people seeking to rebuild their confidence or those who would like to volunteer to help others in situations like Keith’s. Contact
  • Aberdeen Care and Repair provides advice and practical assistance to people aged 60-years and over, people with disabilities and people with long-term health conditions, to allow them to continue to live within their own homes as independently as possible.
  • Rosie’s Cafe is situated in the popular Rosemount district of Aberdeen. It occupies a busy corner-site offering a perfect vantage point for people-watching! Rosie’s Social Enterprises provides vocational training, support and work experience for people recovering from acquired brain injuries, mental health and a range of other conditions
  • Social Bite on Union Street  is a sandwich shop with a difference. Profits are given to good causes and 1 in 4 of our team are formerly homeless people. We also feed the local homeless community through our ‘Suspended Coffee and Food’ initiative.

What Happened Next

What will happen as a result of Keith’s Story?