I started my career working within a multidiscipline mental health team in the heart of the diverse cultural city of Cardiff, worked mainly with young people with major mental health diagnoses and ran support groups. I then moved into Children Social Services and then ended up in Residential Care. After I decided to leave social work, I went back to university to re-train as a psychotherapist and clinical supervisor; and I’ve now spent the last 14 years working within the field of domestic abuse and mental health.
Although I moved away from front-line practice as a social worker, I’ve never really stopped feeling passionate about social work and 3 years ago was privileged to be part of the partnership that set up a whole family intervention called Choices for Change. It’s intensely whole family approaches with those affected by mental health, substance use and domestic abuse; and really looks at teaching families how to communicate better.
How does my work with Heroes Rights fit into things?
Alongside my work within social work, I’ve been very fortunate to have delivered services for different agencies such as domestic abuse services, programmes for men and women.
Almost 2 years ago, I set up with my fellow directors Max Chadwick and Sally Burris Heroes Rights - a not for profit organisation to spread awareness on the impact of male victims of domestic abuse and whole families. Last year Heroes Rights established a Peer to Peer Network, a support network for anyone working with or supporting people.
Our membership of over 200 members is for anyone that wishes to meet with likeminded people, to share best practices, to drive social change and most importantly to work together collaboratively not competitively. People who work with the vulnerable often forget to look after our own self-care. Our mission statement is simple: who else supports the supporters.
Why a community support centre?
From the very start, this project has come from the community. The people of Barry made it clear that support services were badly needed for mental health, domestic abuse and substance abuse. They felt that a whole family approach, where everyone could access support and services all under one roof, with 1 point of contact throughout their time was of the utmost importance. They want to feel part of a community, to have access to whole family services rather than be split up to access support, to develop tools and techniques to communicate and improve their relationships whilst gaining support at the centre.
This has translated into our vision of putting people, communities and partnerships at the heart of solutions.
How did we decide what to include?
Heroes Rights and the community came together to plan what the service should look like and what types of interventions and activities they would need. The idea of having a peer mentor to support the person/family at the centre came from the community; which was then broadened to have ‘buddy’ training for community members to support the person.
What is the main mission for the centre?
We want to create a culture where people are the expert in their own lives. We want the interventions, activities and support delivered to the community maintains the people at the heart of their solutions. When the culture allows people to be the voice of expertise about their own lives, they can take responsibility for themselves and their actions, developing an inherent resilience.
How are we working with the community making sure it fits in with the needs?
This centre has been set up understanding the thoughts and feelings from the community who it is for. We’ve spoken to as many people as we can, involving them in the process to shape the centre and informed them at every stage what developments were happening. This is not something I or anyone else is presenting to Barry, it’s being made completely in partnership with those who need this centre. 26 community members with different lived in experiences will be board members for the centre, 10 volunteers for community buddy training and 2 single mums with social anxiety working on fundraising events. Barry is showing its true colours and coming together as a community, for the community.