Category: Recovery Stories

New team leader hails from Spain

Maria,Stephanie and Faith

Though only two years and a half in the UK Maria Gonzalez has had an interesting journey from coffee shop assistant to the new Team Leader of Solidarity in a Crisis. Maria (pictured left) studied psychology in her native Spain, she is from Seville, and had hopes of becoming a clinical psychologist but her journey took her to different places. She became a carer to her father after he suffered a stroke when she was 10, and although it was always challenging things got worse with time. She battled her own depression when this task became overwhelming. “I stopped my Psychology degree for a time (which I managed to finish later and graduate a trained psychologist).” She is committed to volunteering. “I’ve been volunteering my whole life,” she says… Part of her studies included a volunteer internship in hospital acute services. Three years ago Maria, who spoke no English, and […]

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‘Solidarity in a crisis should be 24 hours’


Anna says finding a flyer about Solidarity in a Crisis’ peer support crisis phone line and its links to the community helped her when she was at a low ebb. It was a time when the voices she was hearing were at a bad point and she was desperate. In the past she had phoned the Samaritans, “they do care”, she says, but they don’t have the “depth of understanding”, that she was able to explore with Solidarity in a Crisis (SiaC) peer supporters. Anna, aged 34, found the flyer about SiaC in her GP ‘s surgery and this along with her own insight, has helped her to find coping strategies to get through the worst times. It has helped her to explore more about her diagnosis of schizophrenia (she has experienced two psychotic episodes and was sectioned both times and spent a month in hospital the first time and […]

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Sign up for a Spring course

Rcovery college

“Among other things SLaM Recovery College is for me… along with others I get the chance to expand our vision on what recovery is, should be or will become. I’m a Peer Trainer; designing, planning and facilitating a wide variety of workshops and courses with recovery in mind. I do this with mental health professionals.” Garry Ellison, Peer Trainer “I attended a course, organised by the Recovery College about understanding substance abuse and Mental Health.  It makes me feel better about myself if I can attend and more so if I am able to participate.  On this occasion I was able to.  It also helps me feel more confident to continue and build on these experiences.” Stephen Murphy, Southside Rehabilitation Association (SRA). The eight courses I have done at the Recovery College, as well as support from Carers Hub Lambeth (including a 10-week personal development course through City Lit) have been […]

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‘I probably would have perished if I didn’t come here’

LWN Pano

Kobi-Wan is finding he is scoring more than his football goals since he became a member of Mosaic Clubhouse several months ago. At the recent Living Well Network Open event he was snapping photographs for the Clubhouse’s ‘in the mo’ newsletter, which he has been contributing to. He particularly enjoys reporting on football.. ” I just pick a match and report on it. In the past I did voluntary work as a football coach (he qualified via a course with the Football Association). “I love the goals,” says Kobi-wan, who supports Liverpool and used to be a goalkeeper (he’s ‘in retirement’ now). “I once met Bruce Grobbelaar (former Liverpool player, 1984-1991) at an event at London Weekend Television and I saved a penalty from him; he inspired me.” Kobi-Wan feels Mosaic has helped him turn a corner since he became unwell some four years ago. “It was recommended by my […]

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A peer supporter posts


‘Thinking man in progress’ … That’s the title of the image that illustrates this article, which together with the thoughts below, sketch out the creative thoughts of a peer supporter. The incentive for organisations to encourage and develop peer support is that it simultaneously helps the support worker and those they support. I do find that that mental illness takes so many forms that finding someone with exactly the same struggles as you is unlikely. The positives usually lean more towards the comfort that someone else has been through it and there is less of a barrier when it comes to communicating elements of ourselves that we are perhaps fearful to show to the professionals. For me I don’t find it hard to be open with the professionals so peer support had a slightly different role for me. I spoke to someone with a similar issue to me but who […]

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Means and meaning, my coffee beans cafe:)

Coffee lovers

After the Collaborative breakfast I am moved and inspired by Lucy Ng’s visionary journey to set up the Coffee Lovers Cafe. Lucy explains that since her childhood she has been guided by her grandfather who was a “well know philanthropist in China and helped many people from all walks in life”. “It is my dream to carry on his work,” she says. Lucy graduated as a fashion designer from the University of Arts London, but “hated the industry”. Her life changed when she took up her administrator’s job with Missing Link (Metropolitan) a peer supporter service empowering the lives of people moving on from hospital wards into the community. With Missing Link, Lucy found the added “means and meaning, my coffee beans cafe” “I went through depression myself with three kids alone but didn’t know much of mental health,” says Lucy. “But after Missing Link I made many friends and […]

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Overcoming ‘treading on eggshells’

Roger Oliver Recovery College

Carer Roger Oliver recounts below the journey to shape and deliver a new course for carers I heard about coaching skills as a potential tool for SLaM (South London & Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust) staff when helping their clients in their recovery about seven years ago when the “Refocus on Recovery” Research Project began. I thought then that this skill would benefit carers too, especially when the only skill I had learnt through the caring experience was “How to tread on eggshells” and avoidance when dealing with someone with a mental health problem who was either in crisis or not having a good day. I then heard that the Eating Disorders Service was involving and training carers in motivational interviewing at a Scientific Conference in Cambridge. I thought then that coaching could be a potential skill for the carer’s “life” toolkit and that something could be developed for carers in […]

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Garry shares a night of Solidarity


“I think the Evening Sanctuary has real potential and is useful to those who still struggle in the community with on-going mental and emotional challenges,” says Garry Ellison, Solidarity in a Crisis peer supporter, who facilitates a  Paranoi and Beliefs Group at the sanctuary on Thursday nights. He also does ad-hoc shifts “when a colleague of mine is unable to; she is the designated Solidarity in a Crisis peer supporter there.” Garry is also the brainchild of Recovery in Action, a project that aims to “reduce the social isolation experienced by people with mental health issues, living within our inner city communities”. Below he talks about his experiences at the sanctuary. ‘On one shift I did there our team worked with a young lady who presented at Kings A &E She was, in her own words, feeling suicidal and had to a degree lost all hope. Initially the two front […]

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‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’

mrs motive

“As a little girl my grandfather told me there is no such thing as a secret,” says Sandra who has recently taken on a peer supporter post with a new A&E initiative. “He said, that for something to be a secret, you would have to dig a hole, put your head in it, say your secret then cover it,” she adds. “I like my journal as it represents that hole, a safe place to express myself. As a Journal Writing Facilitator I now share this with others.” Below Sandra shares excerpts from her journal I believe that we are all Peer Supporters…  I wasn’t aware that what I had been doing most of my life, actually had a label. Helping people with their problems is not just the work of professionals, being a ‘people-helper’  is something I have always been. From handling feelings of bitterness and frustration, depression and insecurity, […]

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‘It really is a sight to see’


Why Mosaic matters to Matt  A warm and calmly lit front room with a bookshelf, bean-bags, sofa, a deep-pile rug and a hot drink sitting on the coffee table. It sounds nice doesn’t it? Well, it’s exactly what welcomes people who use the new Evening Sanctuary (a Lambeth Living Well Collaborative venture) based at Mosaic Clubhouse, hosts of the Living Well Partnership. Those who turn up at A&E, unable to cope in the evenings have the opportunity to be referred to the sanctuary in Brixton and have a chat to support workers as well as peer supporters who have lived experience of mental illness. When I first heard about the evening sanctuary I was on board straight away. It was just another example of how services in Lambeth are working together for the benefit of people suffering with mental ill-health. The evening starts at 6pm and runs up till 2am. […]

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