Tuesday, 8 March 2016

CAMAD's Pathways Project in Machynlleth

This week's guest post is from Jeremy Richards who works as the Pathways Co-ordinator at CAMAD - Community Action Machynlleth & District - in North West Powys. His role is to create a safe environment and facilitate and enable people to speak freely about their issues if they wish. 

Now that CAMAD’s Pathways Project has reached its 6 month mark of Big Lottery funding it seems a good time to write.

To be fair it is longer than that we’ve been going as we had Awards for All funding to pilot the project from November 2014. It started off as a Thursday afternoon service, but now it’s Monday afternoons too, and on Tuesday afternoons we have Art Sessions with a wellbeing slant.

It’s much more enjoyable, much less heavy than I anticipated. Although people are free to share their hardships, and do, more often than not we talk a lot of amiable nonsense.

Perhaps it’s very obvious but it seems to me that once the elephant in the room has been uncovered (depression, anxiety) it loses a lot of its power and it becomes something that’s understood, something that doesn’t need to be the principle focus. This is important – when you’re living alone with your demons they can become your whole life, even to such an extent that you don’t know where you’d be without them.

Our set-up is very simple. We have a little lounge area, with music playing and comfy chairs and a communal kitchen with a big round table where people do informal art on Thursdays too.

Sometimes it gets very busy and chaotic but I kind of like that. People shift around from room to room, chatting in different combinations. No-one has her own chair or particular sub-group!

Something I must flag is how brilliantly we have been supported since the outset by the Community Mental Health Team. Most notably, in the frequent visits to the drop-in they really help to demystify the world of mental health care to those who may be embarking upon it for the first time, and they are an informal yet informed ear for anyone who has a particular issue I may not be qualified to address.

I have found it deeply moving how mutually supportive the group is drawing on their own difficult experiences for the benefit of their peers. And it's heartening to see people increasing in confidence – moving into volunteering, college, or just being in any way sociable – by contrast to when they first come along. I’d like to feel that an atmosphere of everyone wearing the same T-shirt goes some way to making these changes possible.

We look forward to the next 6 months and beyond. And will post again soon.

What people say about the Pathways Project:

I’m enjoying coming to the drop-in. It’s a friendly, informal, supportive atmosphere. There’s a very non-judgmental vibe, people seem able to be themselves.

The drop-in is very helpful to me, definitely better than any official help I have ever received in years on benefits. Twice a week makes a big difference to the impact it can have on my life. Occasional ‘deep’ conversations either 1:1 with J or when that fits in with other visitors are very important to me, and these crop up on an as-and-when basis, which works fine for me…the most appropriate and useful help I have ever received.

I have met several people whose warm and welcoming smiles do not come with a judgment – as to why I have come? And what is my problem? One is just made welcome. At CAMAD Pathways there is always light-hearted laughter, nonsense conversation and discussion about current events and sometimes someone wants to talk about a burden which weighs that person down…CAMAD Pathways is there to listen.

If you want to find out more, check out the CAMAD website, or ring: 01654 700071 and ask to speak to Jeremy.


  1. Good to hear about your project Jeremy - clearly meeting a need a what sounds like a lovely accepting low-key way.

  2. I couldn't agree more.. As a professional and former care home owner,mental health nurse and counsellor,new to this area, it is unique in its approach. No-one has a badge stating 'well or 'not well'..Although it is clear for those who do need extra support, as to where they can go through their informed signposting.Although in its infancy I can only see more good to come! All new ventures are in part,trial and error.. Transparency and communication are the key and confidentiality a must.I really hope this service continues and develops. Hayley.

  3. Hi Jane and Hayley

    Many thanks for your comments. I've flagged them up with Jeremy and he is really pleased to see some positive responses to the work going on at CAMAD in Machynlleth.