James tells us about the difference Rotherham Pathways has made to his life.
Being a young person with learning difficulties and mental health issues you’re usually thrown from pillar to post with people not wanting to deal with the issues and just trying to pin it on the other thing. This often leaves me on a longer path to getting support than is necessary.
My journey started with a mix of a toxic relationship which included domestic abuse, and an injury causing me to lose my job. My partner at the time had mental health issues, so anytime I wanted her to leave she would call the police which ended up sending me on a spiral.
I was starting to unknowingly break the law in many ways, so I was noted down as someone with the potential to end up in prison in the future. This is when I was passed onto Pathways. Now looking back on it, without their intervention at the time I’d likely be in prison now, or worse. When I first met Alison, my Pathways worker, I didn’t want to do anything or even deal with her. I think the first meeting lasted 3 minutes before I said I was too tired and went back to bed. The meetings got longer but it was all at my pace. Sometimes I missed a meeting or two and it wasn’t made out to be a big deal, I didn’t worry that I’d be thrown out of the service because I missed a session with Alison.
Pathways was something which worked around me and not a fixed deadline or time scale. The service mainly worked because of that. I didn’t feel like Alison was only there because she was getting paid. It wasn’t recycled material and the sessions were based directly on my specific needs. I felt like an individual with my own needs getting help to focus on the key issues that were affecting me.
I was recently given the opportunity to speak to trainee police officers about my experiences with emergency services and my mental health, which was really good. I talked about where I was now and the intervention I received from Pathways that helped stop the spiral going down any further.
I compared this to how the police saw me as a criminal instead of someone with issues and how this made things much worse for me. I also spoke about the different approaches police could take when working with me in terms of my disability.
I don’t think people realise that there’s a service out there in Rotherham that works on an individual basis. Pathways support the person when the person can: not just when it’s written in the workers diary. There’s no risk to the service if you miss a date. Alison was lovely as well which was also a big help, but more importantly I was made to feel that this isn’t where I would stay for the rest of my life. I felt I could improve, and I did.