Success stories

At the HEART of everything we do

We’re proud of the people we support on their recovery journeys, their inspirational stories and the dedicated staff and team members who help make it happen.

Whether it’s helping an individual to move on to independent living, providing early intervention crisis support or helping a person who’s experiencing mental ill health in the workplace, our services cover a breath of recovery – and we’re privileged to share some of those examples and experiences with you.

If you’re a person we’ve supported and would like to share your success story of recovery, please get in touch.

Crisis service

Working in partnership with the NHS, our Crisis Houses and Havens provide a calm space for you to get away from the negative influences in your life and better manage your mental health.

They are designed to be welcoming and comfortable and provide a space for people to reflect and develop coping mechanisms.

A person who accesses support from our Crisis Houses explains how the support they received has helped them to develop coping mechanisms for negative thoughts.

Every day I felt empty and numb. There was no emotion and I forgot how to smile. Too often I would find myself in a bottomless dark pit. Honestly, I hated my own existence.

I looked at myself and saw nothing but flaws and failure. I believed people when they told me I was fat, ugly weird. A freak. In my mind I was all of those things. Useless and a burden.

Coming here, although challenging, was the break I needed. As humans, we often forget to look after ourselves. We believe that we can take on way more than we can handle but in reality, everybody needs a break at some point.

During my time at Richmond Fellowship, I’ve taken social media breaks, fell back in love with old hobbies such as art, colouring and being outside. Depression took my joy and motivation for anything I ever enjoyed away from me. I’ve missed them.

I’ve learnt a lot about myself. I can meet new people, I can do the things I enjoy, I’ve thought up great distractions that I will practice probably for the rest of my life when things get dark again. For me nothing makes me feel better than sitting under a warm cosy blanket watching my favourite movie. Self-care is so important. I now feel as though I will be capable of using these to my advantage. I don’t need to give in to the dark thoughts I will feel OK again.

Employment service

Our Employment services focus on getting you into mainstream employment in line with their preferences at a pace that’s right for you and/or enabling you to retain your current job by facilitating a support package with your employer. 

A person who’s used our Employment services explains her journey to recovery, and how she found her support sessions with a trained Employment Advisor.

Employment Service

I was a nurse for about 20 odd years working in palliative care. I lived with my depression for about 10/11 years and was experiencing a lot of fatigue and pain at work. My anxiety levels increased, I did not feel great about myself and I felt fed up with everything. I had memory issues due to my fatigue. All of this began affecting my job, I was in quite a senior role and my team was not supportive. I felt isolated.  I’m married and have a supportive partner but it just didn’t feel right. I’m in my late 40s and I was thinking, “I have another 15 years of my career but I’m struggling”.

I stopped seeing my friends and I’m quite sociable. I felt I was putting on a show for my friends. Even just listening I would forget what people would say in a conversation. I felt I wasn’t present at all. I felt I changed as a person. I didn’t care. I loved my career as a Nurse but I lost my passion. That was hard as it was all I knew. My physical and mental health was deteriorating. I was just lost really. Really quite lost.

I took myself out of work and tried to find some help for my physical health at first. I looked for mental support and self-referred to Richmond Fellowship. I was put in touch with an Employment Advisor. It was nice to see a friendly face and we immediately clicked. I didn’t feel there was any pressure and she was a great listener. It was nice to have someone outside of work and home to talk to about my mental health. She was someone I met up with for coffee even though I found it a bit anxiety-provoking. I didn’t want to let her down so it made me get up and go. We would chat about what I needed and how I would get there. It was good as she made me come up with the answers rather than just telling me what needed to be done.

During the lockdown, she would email and check in on me. I felt nursing was over and I was on a new chapter in my life. I thought what else could I do? My Advisor helped me look at what I was good at. We looked at what I had done and what I had achieved. At the time I didn’t see it. These things take time and looking back I realise what she did for me.

She supported me at meetings with work and occupational health. It wasn’t to say anything – it was more for moral support. Someone I could look at and she would reassure me or see if I was ok.  My Employment Advisor would always find information for me if I needed it. There was never pressure to use it, it was just available for me.  I did not know what was in my local area to support me without going online when my concentration was poor. This was helpful.

During the lockdown, we agreed that she would email me once a month but if anything cropped up it was fine to contact her. She kept her word. I did miss the face-to-face. I think the occasional video would be great. I quite enjoyed lockdown as I did not have to meet anyone and be myself. She would also telephone me so there was more than a written conversation.

I think it is a journey and it does take time. I don’t know how many sessions I was meant to have but then we came to a natural end. It indicated I am better and can manage myself. It was sad as I liked her but it wasn’t a moment of Oh my god what will I do without her? I’m much better at what I need to do. I  love baking and I try to do that once a week.  I feel like a weight has been lifted. I’m still depressed but those down periods only last a day rather than weeks. I acknowledge how I feel and check in on what’s made me feel this way. It was having someone to talk to who was outside of it all. It was a holistic approach. It really does make a difference.

Employment service

Our Employment services focus on getting you into mainstream employment in line with their preferences at a pace that’s right for you and/or enabling you to retain your current job by facilitating a support package with your employer. 

A person who’s used our services, and now works as a Volunteer Coordinator for Richmond Fellowship explains her journey in returning to the workplace.

Employment Service

I have been experiencing mental health problems for over 10 years, and have more recently been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Over the last three years, I’ve taken time off work for extended periods of time twice due to my mental health problems. The change in the last three years has been stark. I have gone from holding down a busy job to being unable to work due to my mental health and completely withdrawing before slowly moving back to full-time work through volunteering.

Around the time I first had to take time off work I completely lost confidence. Everyday tasks that were routine when I was well seemed like mountains to climb. After struggling for months I signed off work. Luckily I had a supportive manager who was very understanding and kind throughout my time off and a brief return to work at the end of my contract. I would urge anyone in the same situation to get involved with Able Futures, Remploy or a charity that can support you, in my case Bipolar UK, which provides advice and resources to help you stay in work through ‘Access to Work’.

After some time off and no real progress with my mental health, I returned to work full-time. I was not completely ready and I was influenced by the financial pressure I was under. In hindsight, this was not the right move. This and a negative experience at my workplace meant that I left prematurely and ended up being signed off work again.

For 7 months I volunteered with a local community gardens organisation helping to run sessions and look after clients. Through this, l became more confident and rebuilt me. Even though I was only doing one day a week I had a purpose again and felt empowered. I would highly recommend volunteering in something you are passionate about to anyone who has had to take a long period of time off due to mental health. In fact, I would recommend volunteering to anyone as it is a great way to gain experience and skills.

This time, when I felt ready, I went back to work full time. Luckily I was now on the correct treatment and I had another supportive manager so things were much easier. I registered with Able Futures, which provided useful resources and was a helpful bridge between me and the workplace for getting reasonable adjustments. I also found comfort in knowing that there was someone who I could reach out to and who was keeping an eye on my progress.

I also used the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) as well as the Dignity Advisor Network here at Recovery Focus. I wish this was a more widespread initiative in other organisations. In the past, EAPs have been a lifeline for me when I have experienced bullying and been struggling with my mental health. Having someone to talk to who is independent of the situation is really valuable. Other resources I have come across are Mental Health at Work and Our Frontline for frontline workers mental health support.

Now, I am settled working for Richmond Fellowship, and I feel like my experiences with mental ill-health have made me an asset to the organisation and my team. My confidence is growing.

Community Based service

Our Community Based services work on an individual basis to tackle any barriers stopping you from living a fulfilling life.

They provide holistic support in all areas affecting wellbeing including employment, finances, accommodation, and social activities.

A person who’s used our services explains the support he received at a Recovery College, run by Richmond Fellowship and his journey to becoming a Peer Support Worker.

I was a lonely, insecure, shy child and teenager and the reasons for this would surface many years later during psychotherapy.

My first indication that anything was seriously wrong was in 1986 when I was 23. I was preparing to go to work as a Motorway Traffic Police Officer, when I broke down in tears. Needless to say, I didn’t go to work that night and very soon afterwards found myself in hospital. I received about eight sessions of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) which was a brutal and inhumane treatment and ultimately didn’t work.

Eventually, I was discharged and attempted to carry on with my life. It wasn’t long though before I was in considerable distress again and this time the Police Federation Representative came to my house and immediately arranged for me to be admitted to hospital where I remained for the next eight months.

When I was discharged I was desperately trying to cope with my life but struggling and I had another serious emotional meltdown. This was when I got very lucky! A young psychiatrist listened to me describing how I felt and said that she thought that I was a survivor of childhood abuse. This was a complete shock to me but eventually became a major part of who I am and was the point at which my recovery really began.

Over the next few years, I had therapy sessions but became unwell again several times and each time spent about six months in a psychiatric hospital.

When I was discharged the last time, I had group cognitive behavioural therapy sessions.  Another key moment came when I was diagnosed with Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and had some one-to-one therapy specifically to address my OCD. For the next 10 years, I worked very hard on putting into practice the tools l learned to manage my OCD and now I would say that I am in control of it, rather than it being in control of me.

In 2013 I was made redundant from my hospital administrator’s job and in 2015 attended a Recovery College course on resilience run by Richmond Fellowship. At the time a part-time vacancy was being advertised to work as a Peer Support Worker with Richmond Fellowship and I applied. I was successful and on the final week of the course I had the joyous experience of telling my fellow course delegates that I had got a job!

I have now been in post for nearly four years and recently moved to full-time. My role involves one-to-one support, facilitating an OCD support group, acting as a stand-in facilitator for a Depression Support Group, teaching Recovery College courses for the local NHS trust and running a Film Club among other tasks.

I am living proof that it is possible to recover from even the most challenging and appalling of circumstances and turn it all around.

A major part of our work as Peer Recovery Workers involves sharing our recovery journey with the people we support in order to build trust and a mutual relationship and, we hope, to inspire them to work on their own recovery.

So, I am very happy to continue to share my story.  In the future, I hope to be able to build on the skills I am developing in my role, grow further in confidence and most importantly of all get used to this strange new feeling of being at peace with myself.

LINK to community based services page

Supported Housing service

Our Supported Housing and Residential Recovery services are warm, friendly and provide tailored support to help people who aren’t quite ready to move on to independent living.

A person who’s used our services explains how our staff, supported accommodation and access to the right support has enabled them to not only move on to independent living but also to volunteer in their spare time.

I was admitted to hospital in 2014 and diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and anorexia the next year. I’ve probably had it since I was six but it got really bad in 2014. It was terrifying. I thought the CIA was after me and I was going to die. I was in and out of the hospital for ages before being referred to Langholm Place. It’s been brilliant being out of the hospital for two years. I’m on Clozapine too which has helped me and got my life on track. I’m able to manage my symptoms a lot better.

The first time I came to Langholm Place was while I was in the hospital at Leeds. I got really excited about the garden because of the view. It’s amazing. It was summertime and I remember thinking “Oh my god I can sit outside”. I was relaxed, chilled and just looking at the view because I thought it was beautiful.

The flats were lovely as well and I thought “Please give me a place”. You got a kitchen and living room together with a separate bedroom and bathroom. I got a double bed too. The living room had a TV, couch and table. I think the only bad thing was you had to get your own essentials. I didn’t have any knives, forks or plates so I had to go out and buy them. It wasn’t tragic but it would have been nice. I got the place there and then and went back to the hospital very happy. About a month later I moved with all my stuff and made it home.

I was really shy at first. I didn’t really talk much and kept myself to myself. Even with the staff, I wouldn’t really say anything to them. I wasn’t very independent and I needed their help but I didn’t want to admit it. When you’re in the hospital on a section you’re controlled and you can’t really go out. It was really important for me to take back control. I wanted to do everything myself even if some bits I couldn’t really do.

I had to let myself let people in to help me. I was a bit scared at first but the staff were lovely. They helped me with my confidence and took the time to be with me. They would say “Do you want to chat?” if you were feeling down and they’d always be there. It was just lovely because when you come to a place like this you’re on your own. I’ve got five siblings at home and then it’s the same in hospital; you’re always around people. When I first came here I felt lonely and I didn’t know anyone. I did eventually mingle with people. I think it was a Monday night we would have pizza and game night or a tenants meeting. The activities would help people come out of their flats and engage.

I didn’t really have many life skills because I was in the hospital for so long. While you’re there you have your bed made for you and your food cooked. I was only 23 and I’d only lived with my parents previously. While at Langholm Place I learnt how to budget, food shop and clean. I had to start from the bottom and work my way up. I didn’t know how to work a pan, the oven or a washing machine. I challenged myself to do something simple like cook in the oven. I was scared I was going to burn the food but I did it. Every day I would do different things or eat something new or work out how to use a washing machine without asking for help.

Richmond Fellowship helped me with those life skills and built my confidence. I eventually went to Birmingham, Leeds and London to tell people my recovery story. I would never have done that before. I was encouraged to step out of my shell and do something that I wouldn’t normally do and it was an amazing experience. I loved it. I went from being in and out of hospital all the time to managing my symptoms using techniques Richmond Fellowship taught me. I’ve been out for two years and I thank them for that.

My support ended around August. When more people moved in I felt it was time to get my own place. I felt I was ready. My Mum and Dad live down the road with my sisters and I had their support along with Steph my keyworker. I spoke to everyone and asked, “do you think I’m ready?”. They all said yes. The staff helped me to find a place too.

 I was only meant to get three months of aftercare but it ended up being nearly two years. Steph used to come every week if I needed help and if my anxiety was bad she would come shopping with me. We’d also go over my care plan and see if it needed any changes to fit with my life. I was offered support for as long as I needed.

I now volunteer at Lanchester Road Hospital in Durham. Once a week I do activities with patients to build up my experience so I can get a good job in healthcare. Volunteering gets me out of the house too. It’s nice doing activities with the patients. When you’re sectioned you can’t go out and you’re stuck on the ward so I do colouring, painting and crafts with them. I would not be there without the confidence I built up at Langholm. I’m more independent.

Supported Housing service

Our Supported Housing and Residential Recovery services are warm, friendly and provide tailored support to help people who aren’t quite ready to move on to independent living.

A person who’s accessed our services explains how his journey through recovery, initially within our Supported Housing services but also in our Community Based services has allowed them to focus on caring for his Father.

I’ve had mental ill health for a few years now and I’ve been in a few supported accommodations before. Things weren’t so great at one point, but I’ve come a long way. Richmond Fellowship has been a great help in me achieving that. Now, I’m back in the community living with my father. Caring for him gives me a focus.

I’m from Paisley originally. I decided to move away when my mental health issues were at their worst. I wanted a fresh start and I ended up in Newcastle by chance. It seemed like a good option at the time. Sometimes my mental health was good and sometimes it was not so good. I felt I was very up and down. At the time, I would rather have not been in the supported accommodation but in hindsight, it was the right decision. I kept on being moved as the accommodation all had time limits. I picked Richmond Fellowship next as I liked the sound of how they worked with people.

When I first arrived at Richmond Fellowship, I was apprehensive because I was staying somewhere new. On first appearances, it looked really good. The building was well set out and the 24-hour staff was a big positive to me. I knew there was someone there for me all the time. The staff checked up on me and made sure I was doing ok.

At Richmond Fellowship, I got lots of support. The staff were friendly and helpful. I felt safe. I didn’t feel so safe at the other places. Here, it was a secure environment. There were times in the past I had issues with feeling safe. It was my mental health that made me feel this way and I know that now. I knew that then, but it still affected me. It is just a part of my mental health issues.

The staff were non-judgemental and knowledgeable. The staff knew their way around mental health issues and how I could connect with further support. I was signposted to a volunteering position at a local wildlife park. It was a sanctuary where people could birdwatch. I helped out and maintained the place. The wildlife sanctuary was big with a little visitor centre and café. They made their own charcoal which was interesting. The social interaction was a big positive and they allowed me to do as much or as little as I felt capable of.  Everyone was so friendly, and I felt they were glad just to have me around. It was a nice experience.

I wanted to be more stable and to be back in the community. Now I am! I did not think this would happen at the time or so quickly but thanks to Richmond Fellowship’s help it did. I now have greater self-confidence and I feel a lot more secure. I’m back in the community and I feel good about that. Caring for my father is a big help. It gives me the focus to look after my father. I have to keep myself well to know he’s OK.

Supported Housing service

Our Supported Housing and Residential Recovery services are warm, friendly and provide tailored support to help people who aren’t quite ready to move on to independent living.

A person who’s used our services explains how accessing our support allowed them to focus on their recovery and gain skills in volunteering.

“I was a resident at Melbourne View. I was taken off my CTO (Community Treatment Order). I first went to hospital two years ago in Darlington. Then I moved over to Durranhill where we had a shared house, shared bathroom, and shared showers. Now I’m in Melbourne View and I think it’s just brilliant.

We have meetings in the morning here. We meet in the communal area at ten o’clock in the morning for coffee and toast so it’s nice. I’ll get up, get sorted, get a shower and I’m over there. It’s helping my motivation really. I sometimes struggle to get up. I found out I’m anaemic which is maybe why I’m having a couple of hours in the afternoon. The blood tests come back next week.

At Duranhill we got help with cooking and £30 a week for our shopping. We had to give a receipt to prove what we’d bought. Now we need to budget down here. I was going to Lifestyle Gym which is £15 a month. I’m only going once a week and getting a taxi which is £12 quid there and back. I thought I’d use the community centre gym instead which is £2.50 for one session. The staff were also saying they can help us if we all put a bit of food in and cook it. Last week there was a beef dinner; I put a pound in and got beef dinner.

I like how I can have my daughter round here. At Durranhill I couldn’t spend time with her. Now I can do baking and stuff like that. She likes to mop up and do the dishes but she wants £2 for it. It is nice though to be able to spend time with her. And it was a good help coming down here as well with the facilities like the washing machine.

I get a bit anxious going on the bus. I was in hospital for two years and I didn’t get a bus once. It was hard coming back into the community and using the buses and stuff like that. Now I’ve been to Penrith on the bus. I took my daughter too. I had a bit of a funny turn, so I was worried about getting back on the bus again but I’m all right. I take the bus when volunteering at the Carlisle race course with the rescue horses. I’m also doing a decider skills course”.

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