Faye, our Specialist Support Coordinator, reflects on her role and the range of support that helps people to better manage their mental health:
“Good mental health doesn’t come from not having problems – it comes from knowing that if you face challenges or hurt, you have the reserves and resilience to cope, the courage and confidence to talk, or the right support network or coping strategies to turn to.
“This role is about helping people to have that, offering a safe, supportive and non-judgemental space to understand and work through their problems.
“People have poor mental health for many different reasons – grief, relationships, addiction or debt, for example – and sometimes there is no “reason”, sometimes people are just not well. This also manifests in different ways – such as anxiety, depression or PTSD. The pandemic has affected people in lots of ways too – social anxiety about returning to work, depression from long periods of isolation, grief from losing a loved one.
“I use a variety of coping strategies to help people, looking at their routine and structure and finding positive changes to improve their wellbeing and self-esteem. Where necessary or appropriate I’ll also refer them to other services too, such as peer support groups to develop new hobbies, drug and alcohol services like peer support groups or fellowship meetings, or receiving support from their GP. We also look at mindfulness and meditation, to help to cope with overwhelming feelings like anger, anxiety, stress or hurt.
“I really focus on understanding a person’s life as a whole to identify their support network which ranges from family and friends to specialist professionals and structured support groups.
“It’s been great to have been given the autonomy and trust to develop the role as I see fit. I bring a lot of experience from professional settings and also from my personal life that I’ve used to develop the role. Having developed solid referral processes and a trust and rapport with the team, I’ve now got a growing caseload.
“In fact, the only real struggle now is time! I’m supporting 45 people at the moment [October 2021] – that includes 25 men and women still in prison, five people in the community, and 17 staff members over at our partner Recycling Lives Ltd. I’m excited to be recruiting another Specialist Support Worker to help dozens more people on their path to find happiness again.
“I’ve worked with 65 people so far – of those, 84% have reported improved mental health after just three sessions. It just goes to show the difference that specialist, tailored support can make. As an example, I had a person come to me three months ago with a multitude of struggles – they felt they were in a deep, dark place they couldn’t see an end to. We started regular sessions and used behavioural change methods to identify triggers to negative emotions and coping strategies to deal with struggles. They now see the positives in each day and have begun to love themselves. To see someone who felt broken, enjoying life and smiling again – well, that’s the reason I do my job.”
Faye joined our team in May 2021, bringing experience from working in mental health and substance misuse services across Lancashire. She has a hands-on role, supporting participant of the prisons, workshops and residential programmes as well as volunteers at the Food Redistribution Centre and our own staff team. The position has been made possible by partners Recycling Lives Ltd – the recycling and waste management business which we have a long-standing working relationship with – giving their team access to her offering.