Interview with Wakefield Advocacy Together Hub service user Adam Stokes

Together’s Wakefield Advocacy Hub provides a variety of advocacy support to people in the region and runs group sessions for people in the community to attend. Adam Stokes has used those services and was kind enough to share some of his lived experiences with support from Volunteer Coordinator and Independent Mental Health Advocate Ella Allen from Wakefield Advocacy Hub. Ella has worked with Adam at some of the group sessions he attends and so supported him to provide answers to the questions for the interview.

To begin we asked Adam to tell us a bit about mental distress he had experienced in the past and how he came to work with Together’s Advocacy Wakefield Hub. In answer to this Adam said he feels he has had mental health problems all his life. This is mainly experienced as low mood and anxiety and he can easily become stressed.

Adam explained he has worked with Together Advocacy Hub many times for many different issues and has also attended the Lift Up Friends Learning Disabilities Self Advocacy Group for a long time. In addition to that group Adam has most recently started at attend the Wakefield Autism Voice for Everyone Self Advocacy Group and staff from the Wakefield Advocacy Hub also recently helped him to move house.

Next we asked Adam to consider how has it been for him accessing support for his mental health and whether there are types of support he feels have worked well. Adam said he has had lots of support for his mental health in the past although he feels it has still been difficult. He has support for Learning Disabilities and Autism and feels that the services that help him with these issues also help him with his mental health.

In terms of support Adam receives that comes from Social Services, Autism Services, the Learning Disability Nursing Team and Intensive Support Teams. Adam also has a Personal Assistant, attends Together’s self-advocacy groups and the Back to Work DWP scheme as well as volunteering at Wakefield hospice. Adam said he feels that keeping busy helps him with his mental health as well as talking to people who have similar issues which is why he enjoys the Together’s self-advocacy groups.

Adam has previously received diagnoses around learning disabilities and more recently of being on the autistic spectrum. We asked Adam how he he felt before and after receiving those diagnoses and whether they have affected his access to mental health support. Adam responded by saying he cannot actually remember when he was first diagnosed with a Learning Disability or with Autism. He did say though that he believes receiving help for these issues has also helped get support for his mental health. Adam explained he has regular contact with his Social Worker who seems to be very helpful and supports him with his wellbeing.

Finally we asked Adam how he has found attending the group sessions at Wakefield Hub and speaking to other people with lived experience of mental distress. Having already mentioned the benefit of speaking to others with similar experiences Adam reiterated he really enjoys attending the groups. He described how he likes to keep busy and have a reason to go out and he also feels that talking to other people with a Learning Disability and with Autism helps him to know that other people have the same struggles that he has.

Thank you to Adam for taking the time to share his experiences and to Ella for supporting him with sharing his responses.