people using Thames Reach services have been able to turn their lives around
with the help of local, community-focused floating support services that
provide mental health and housing advice, and encourage people to find fulfilling
activities that aid on the path to recovery.
43, has been able to move his life forward with the help of Thames Reach’s
Sutton Reach project, a free service available to all London Borough of Sutton
residents with mental health, drugs, alcohol, and tenancy support needs.
has been using the services at Sutton Reach for the past 18 months, attending
group sessions every Thursday, in addition to a weekly chat over coffee with
his support worker, Wonde.
life-long Sutton resident, Stephen, who has a partner and a ten-year old son, was
working in retail when he went through a mental health crisis.
“I felt really stressed, anxious, prone
to self-harm, depressed all the time,” he said. “I shut myself off, I never
went out and would sleep all the time. I couldn’t cope with everyday life.”
he was referred by a doctor to Sutton Reach. Straightaway, though, he felt reassured.
“Right from the initial interview, they took all the worry away from me. I felt
very comfortable and relaxed. It was very welcoming.”
began group therapy and, encouraged by the staff, and by the camaraderie fostered
among fellow service users who regularly attend sessions, he has been able to
gradually rebuild his confidence and surmount the challenges he’s faced over
the past few years.
the manager, always has time for you; you always get her full attention. You
can tell her things in confidence. All the staff take a personal interest in
also recently met Thames Reach Chief Executive Jeremy Swain at one of the
Thursday group sessions.
“I’d like to say a big thanks to him for letting me
get to know him, and for all the work he’s done in leading Thames Reach for so
addition to providing support, such as group therapy, to help improve people’s
mental health, Sutton Reach also encourages service users to take up activities
or pursue interests in order to find personal fulfilment, and to aid recovery. Another
of Stephen’s support workers at Sutton Reach recommended that he attend
Volunteer Centre Sutton, a project helping people in the local community find
volunteering positions, to look for football coaching opportunities. Through
the centre, he was able to become a steward at local non-league club Sutton
United. Stephen volunteered as a steward for a year until a coaching position
became available at one of the club’s Community Teams.
really helps with my mental health, getting out in the fresh air, and playing
on the main Sutton United pitch. It gives me great satisfaction to coach the
team, watch how they progress in training, and how they develop in matches over
the season. I also run the walking football session on a Wednesday morning for
get a lot of personal support from the club. I’d like to say a big thank you to
Sutton United for making me feel special, and also to my manager, Steve King,
for his continued support there.”
Reach staff member also advocated on Stephen’s behalf, writing a letter to
Sutton council arguing that his
house wasn’t big enough for him, his partner, and their son. They were soon
moved into a more suitable home.
is a keen participant in group activities and trips organised by staff to
places such as the Science Museum, the Natural History Museum, and the London
is now enrolled on the TRaVEL (Thames Reach Volunteering and Employment for
Life) course at the Employment Academy, Thames Reach’s community resource
centre in Camberwell, where he’s hoping to develop his skills, gain experience,
and take further steps towards getting back into employment.
“I’m not confident
to go back to work just yet but I am getting there.”
well as aiming to get back into work, Stephen hopes he can use what he’s been
through to help other people facing similar struggles.
love to share my experience with others who are starting out at Sutton Reach,
or just starting to work towards improving their mental health. I’d love to
help people on their journeys. I feel like I represent Sutton Reach now.”
his life now getting back on track, Stephen believes he wouldn’t be where he is
today without the help of the staff at Sutton Reach.
their support, I’ve got a better, more secure place to live. I’ve got my
football coaching. They’re one of the best organisations I’ve ever been
involved with. I don’t where I’d be without them.
staff there say it’s their job, but we don’t see them as doing a job. They feel
like friends to me. Someone who won’t judge or discriminate, and who’ll always
listen to you. It’s like family to us.
really want to say thank you to all the staff at Sutton Reach who’ve helped me
over the past 18 months. Thanks for encouraging me and being so open. I feel
wanted, appreciated, special.”