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Your Way: Donald and Sally at North Warwickshire

The Rugby Social & Activities Group is run and used by people who have received support from Together’s Warwickshire Your Way service, but is also open to anyone who has experienced mental health issues.

It began in 2011, when Les and Donald were nearing the end of their support from Your Way. They were worried that when their support worker sessions ended, they would become isolated. Les and Donald with the help of their Your Way workers began meeting regularly with the final aim of setting up a group for meeting people who were going through something similar. Les and Donald planned the project and people were assigned responsibilities depending on what they were good at and what they felt comfortable with, for example, Laura helped with the artwork and Donald used his computer skills.

At the first official group meeting of the then-named Self Help Group, the 14 attendees voted to get rid of a lot of the unnecessary paperwork and rebrand as the Social & Activities Group. At their second meeting, six to seven people from Your Way showed up and visits over the next few weeks were arranged to get to know everyone. People tend to meet Donald or Les first so they can get an idea of what the group is like and a Your Way worker will usually accompany individuals who find meeting a large group of people daunting to their first meeting. Donald stresses that it is important that support workers offer the advice and support needed but let service users run with their own responsibilities.

The group now usually meet twice a week and anyone can suggest activities, from visits to places they love, to something interesting they picked up a flyer for. Activities are chosen by majority vote and responsibilities for arranging the trips are shared out, with help available to anyone who’s not confident enough. The group have a bank account to help with activity costs and they’ve raised funds through a sponsored walk, car boot sales and successfully applying for funding from the Co-op.

The first activity was a walk around Caldicott Park. One member, David, had been to all the meetings but just had his drink and never spoke, raised his head or looked anyone in the eye. On the walk I turned round and David was feeding the squirrels with a big smile on his face. I’ll never forget that. In the next couple of weeks David organised a tour around Rugby’s famous brass plaque walk. The change in David’s confidence and self esteem was amazing. David is now our Treasurer and manages the books to the penny.

– Donald (Group Coordinator and founding member)

Since joining the group, I have not only gained more confidence but made new friends. Before joining I would never have dreamt about visiting places outside Rugby and now I have been to several places such as Morton-on-Marsh, Coventry and gone on Barge trips. All this has impacted on the rest of my life as I no longer stay in my flat all the time, even if I just go up town for a coffee.
– Sally (Group Coordinator)