Charity launches transformed service for Southwark residents with mental health issues

As part of its work to transform its services and drive personalisation forward, mental health charity Together has launched its latest project Southwark Your Way for local people in need of support.

Southwark Your Way, formerly known as Castle Resource Centre, has now been transformed into a community based service that offers individuals experiencing mental health issues flexible, tailor made support to suit them.

To help reduce the stress of the switch over from a building based service to a community based one, the charity set up a ‘management council’. The council is made up of both staff and service users, with service users in the majority, so they can lead the direction of the service and how its funds are spent.

A Southwark Your way service user, making the transition to the new service said:

Before, some people were hiding away, the centre was a safe haven but they weren’t going anywhere or moving forward in their lives. The new service is more about doing it for yourself, it’s not about just sitting there and doing nothing anymore but about getting out and about, setting up your own activities and groups, getting more involved in the community and becoming more independent.”

“It is different and so there is of course some anxiety; change creates fear doesn’t it? But lots of people seem a million times better already and some want to get back into work or go back to college, so it shows that there is always light at the end of the tunnel.”

Run in partnership with Southwark Borough Council, Your Way operates from a small hub in the heart of the local community with staff offering both a drop-in service and ‘mobile’ support in cafes, libraries and other universal settings in the surrounding neighbourhood.

The overall aim of the service is to support individuals to lead their own journey to wellbeing and to reconnect with their community so that they can utilise local resources to stay well. The long term goal is to reduce individuals’ need for formal mental health services, facilitating their path to leading independent, ordinary lives. Service users can choose to get support to achieve their individual goals and aspirations, whether that be to manage their mental health better, enter education, return to work, find new hobbies, build social networks, solve housing issues or organise their finances.

Catherine McDonald, cabinet member for Health and Adult Social Care said: “Southwark Council’s vision for adult social care showed our commitment to focussing on those services that help people to stay independent, and connected within the community, for as long as possible. Southwark Your Way provides support in line with this vision and we are pleased to be able to support the outcomes they are achieving for our residents.”

Ant Oxley, Southwark Your Way Lead  at Together said: “The transformation of Castle Day Centre to Southwark Your Way has had a positive impact on both staff and service users. With the greater flexibility of staff and the increased level of support we have seen clients start to achieve their goals and not only stay well but begin to fulfil their potential in life.

A fundamental feature underlying the Your Way service is the value of peer support - people with their own personal experience of mental distress supporting others experiencing similar problems. Southwark Your Way will be offering ‘peer support’ training so that those who have experienced mental health issues can apply to become peer support workers at the project.

Ant continues: “As we continue to grow Southwark Your Way we want to facilitate service user involvement and leadership at every level of our service. We start our ‘peer support’ training course this month and we are also hiring volunteer ‘community coordinators’, who have experienced mental health problems themselves, to help build social networks and friendships and to organise group activates.

If you or someone you know has a mental health issue please get in touch, you can simply text us and we will phone you back within 24 hours, Monday-Friday.”

To contact Southwark Your Way, Call 0207 525 3477, Text ‘southwark’ and your message to 82727 or Email: southwark-yourway@together-uk.org

For further information, please contact Robyn Clark, PR & Marketing officer at Together, Tel: 0207 780 7376/07734 870 065 or Email: robyn-clark@together-uk.org