Thursday, 24 September 2015

Rekindle's Small Steps Project

Rekindle's young people, trustees and staff with Lord Alex Carlile for the summer relaunch
Kemal Keeble is the Recovery Practitioner at the mental health charity Rekindle based in Newtown, North Powys. I went to meet him, his colleague Diane Williams, and some of the young people they work with a few weeks ago at their lovely new premises at Market Street. Kemal runs the Small Steps Project at Rekindle, so he and the young people have now worked together to produce this guest blog post for us.

Some weeks ago I was asked if Small Steps would like to post a blog on the Powys Mental Health blog site run by the mental health team at Powys Association of Voluntary Organisations (PAVO).

The idea being that we could get some of the young people we are involved with actively writing about their own experiences of mental health and their own roads to recovery. That we might write a little introduction to our service, the things we do, and explain how what we do aids the community we live in. So here I am today putting those words into action!

A little about Rekindle and “The Small Steps Project”………

Rekindle is a small charity that was initially set up some years ago as an intervention service for people who are struggling with mental health. In June 2013 Rekindle's thinking was that the Small Steps Project would restart concentrating on work with 16 – 25 year olds in the Montgomeryshire catchment area. In June 2015 Small Steps moved to new premises on Market Street and has developed into a community hub for the young people we support. 

To coincide with this move we held a celebration at The Elephant and Castle on Saturday 11th July 2015. It was a unique opportunity where organisations could meet Rekindle's trustees, staff,and young people. Lord Alex Carlile of Berriew CBE QC, Rekindle's patron and the guest of honour, attended. He gave an informative speech about the impact of mental health on his own family and why he helped set up Rekindle. Rekindle’s trustee Dr John Scott, Small Steps Project Coordinator Diane Williams, with myself gave a short presentation about the impact of mental health on our community. This was further brought home by a number of young people talking about their own experiences of mental health and how Small Steps had helped them on the journey to recovery.

What we do

At Small Steps we work with young people who are having difficulties. The first meeting can be a very worrying situation for someone who might have problems. We understand how challenging it can be for someone to build up the confidence to walk through our door, meet people they do not know, and then be able to talk about what it is that is causing them to feel at a low ebb. Young people can struggle due to being socially isolated or not having the confidence to meet new people. We often tell them how it’s OK to bring someone along for moral support on the first meeting.

In some of the work we do we can find ourselves mediating and representing clients on a whole variety of matters, for example -  support with benefits, estrangement, appointee duties, anti-social behaviour, appropriate adult, advocacy, physical and mental health, doctors' appointments and various assessments.

Our support means that people in the age group of 16 – 25 can access help and have however much time they need to work through any issues they may have. It means that they are open to our service for what could be many years should they need help. It is a core reason that Small Steps was set up initially as an early intervention service so that young people can understand they do not need to rely on services all their lives, that they can manage their own wellbeing and gain the valuable skills they need to function independently in our community.

At Small Steps we are all about being reactive to our client’s needs, empowering young people to succeed and move up in the world.

Over the past year we have often listened to what our clients have spoken about and also challenged them to try new and different things. We have found this to be a real turning point in our young people’s lives. They have met new people, and made new friendships and self-discoveries along the way. Some of the activities we have run include - photography expeditions to local places of interest, badminton, football, and Britain’s Got Talent auditions. Not to mention sponsored walks. The response from our young people has been that they do like being able to have time out from their normal everyday lives as it gives them new experiences and more enthusiasm for what happens locally in Montgomeryshire.

"Mountains" - by a young person involved in the Small Steps Project

"I am an 18 year old living in Newtown! To everyone else I come across as an always happy, bubbly person. However, even people like this may only be acting. I am on the road of recovery so I am very lucky but I only have achieved this by pushing myself and coming to Small Steps which was the best thing I ever did.

My life has been and is a journey just like anyone else’s just there has been mountains for me to climb. At first I found them too high but it didn’t stop me and it shouldn’t stop anyone else either. I now have to keep climbing these mountains and yes, even now some mountains may grow in front of me, trying to stop me on my path, but I know the best thing for me to do is not let it knock me back or put me down just climb it. I’m not saying it will be easy but with the right support and positive thinking it is possible. I know positive thinking is very hard as I struggle myself to keep positive but I know I am getting the support I need to work on this with Small Steps and anyone else that needs help should go to them too. So no matter how big or small your mountains are you can climb them and get to the other side of them. To cope with these mountains I find things to do such as:

  • Drawing.
  • Singing.
  • Covering my walls in happy quotes to look at when I wake up.
  • Also the main one - surrounding yourself with positive people."

Small Steps Project update

We have recently been nominated for the Powys Business Awards and have got through to being finalists. Part of being a finalist was to have a production company make a short film about Small Steps on 19th August 2015. 

Filming day at Rekindle's Newtown premises
All at Rekindle are now waiting in anticipation for this year’s fiercely fought “charity category”. The Judges' decision is due to be announced live at the Powys Business Awards Ceremony Dinner on Friday 25th September 2015.

UPDATE: Rekindle's Small Steps Project won the Social Enterprise/Charity category of the Powys Business Awards on Friday 25 September 2015. Congratulations!

Kemal told me: "We are very honoured to have won and feel it is positive recognition in raising awareness of the good work that is ongoing throughout Montgomeryshire by The Small Steps Project. Hopefully now we will be able to secure the financial funding we need to continue to support Montgomeryshire's young people as they are potentially our future here in Powys."

Kemal & Diane receive the Powys Business Award
from Mid Wales Housing Association
Many thanks to Kemal and all at Rekindle for telling us about their work. If you are a young person reading this, what do you do to help cope with your "mountains"? Tell us in the comments box below.

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