Rob has used our Your Way service in Lewes and went on to help us win a national award.

“Your Way really changed my life; I probably wouldn’t be alive today without it.

I had suffered from mental health issues for years. I was isolated and lonely; I could go for weeks without seeing anyone else. I wasn’t motivated at all and I was drinking too much. I felt really nervous about going along to Your Way so I took my son with me the first time, but everyone was welcoming and I ended up readily sharing information about myself with others which was unlike me.

After receiving support from Your Way, I not only found that my relationships with my kids were much better, but I was also a lot calmer, more tolerant and generally more pleasant to be around. Beyond that, Your Way supported me on my way to being where I am today, which is employed full-time and really enjoying life – a far cry from when I could go for weeks without seeing anyone else!

I truly believe in the way the service is run

This all started when I began volunteering at Your Way in Lewes. I set up the Recovery Kitchen project, which offers free cooking sessions to people who experience mental health issues, and caters for a range of events locally. From there, I began volunteering more and more. People began asking me for support, so when a Your Way Worker position became available, the Managers encouraged me to apply. I got so much support from them throughout the application process. And as I settled into my role, I also received lots of support from Together’s head office, in the form of the training that I needed to do my job well.

When I was offered a full-time role here, I was really happy as I truly believe in the way the service is run. The service was here when I needed it, so I am thrilled that I can now be part of delivering support to others who are in the situation I was once in.

The most important part of my role is listening to people and understanding what they want and need from the service. When I first meet with someone who’s new to the service, I work with them to find out what they want to achieve and who would be the best support worker to work with them. My own experiences always help – I find that when I tell people I’ve been in a similar situation, they relax. I’m very open and honest!

One of the key things I support people with is promoting healthy living in the community. To do this, we run walking groups and other groups like creative writing, reading, art and craft, football and cooking. We also build relationships with GPs and other professionals to make our service as easy to access as possible. Sometimes when we first start a group, we have one or two people coming, but we find that after a few weeks we might have eight or nine people.

There are so many elements of the service that I would consider to be award-winning

There are so many elements of the service that I would consider to be award-winning: the way we put people at the centre of their support, the way we offer peer support, and many other things. But when we were shortlisted for a 3rd Sector Care Award – a national award – to recognise the work we were doing to make a difference in our local community, I was really delighted.

I attended the interview, which was pretty nerve-racking. The judges seemed impressed by the way we supported people and don’t follow a one-size-fits-all approach. I also spoke about my journey from using the service to now working there. But you can never really tell if they will pick you as the winner.

When we found out that we had won, we really celebrated. We had an event to bring the four Your Way services in East Sussex together and invited our commissioner as well as people that use the service and staff. It was a great way to recognise the work we do day in day out to support people, and it was great to hear from people about the difference this has made to their lives. That’s what it is all about!”