© Jaromir Chalabala, Shutterstock.com
Written by Editorial Team, DonateToday
Published: Tuesday, 6th March 2018
Together for Mental Wellbeing's Pathways service provides much-needed alternative to a descent into a life of crime for young Rotherham man
Together for Mental Wellbeing is a national charity that supports people with mental health issues to lead fulfilling and independent lives. They work with approximately 4,500 people every month at around 70 locations across England. Their services include support in the community, accommodation-based support, advocacy and criminal justice services.
James was made known to Together’s Pathways service after a complex mix of learning difficulties, mental health issues, domestic abuse and physical injury meant he’d begun to unwittingly break the law.
‘Being a young person with learning difficulties and mental health issues, you’re usually thrown from pillar to post with people not wanting to deal with the issues and just trying to pin it on the other thing,’ James says. ‘This often left me on a longer path to get support than was necessary.
‘My journey started with a mix of a toxic relationship which included domestic abuse, and an injury causing me to lose my job,’ he continues. ‘My partner at the time had mental health issues, and anytime I wanted her to leave she would call the police which ended up sending me on a spiral.’
This dangerous set of circumstances was starting to have really serious repercussions for the young man. ‘I was starting to unknowingly break the law in many ways,’ James admits. ‘I was noted down as someone with the potential to end up in prison in the future.
‘This was when I was passed onto Pathways,’ he continues. ‘Looking back on it, without their intervention at the time, I’d likely be in prison now, or worse.
‘When I first met Alison, my Pathways worker, I didn’t want to do anything or even deal with her. I think the first meeting lasted three minutes, before I said I was too tired and went back to bed.
‘The meetings got longer, but it was all at my pace. Sometimes I missed a meeting or two and it wasn’t made out to be a big deal – I didn’t worry that I’d be thrown out of the service because I missed a session with Alison.’
"I don't think people realise that there's a service out there in Rotherham that works on an individual basis."
Reflecting on his experience with Together’s Pathways service, James is full of praise and enthusiasm for how the charity has helped him.
‘Pathways was something which worked around me and not a fixed deadline or timescale,’ he says. ‘The service mainly worked because of that – I didn’t feel like Alison was only there because she was getting paid. It wasn’t recycled material and the sessions were based directly on my specific needs – I felt like an individual with my own needs, getting help to focus on the key issues that were affecting me.
‘I was recently given the opportunity to speak to trainee police officers about my experiences with the emergency services and my mental health, which was really good.
‘I talked about where I was now and the intervention I received Pathways that helped stop the spiral going down any further. I compared this to how the police saw me as a criminal, instead of someone with issues and how this made things much worse for me. I also spoke about the different approaches police could take when working with me in terms of my disability.’
James also has a message for anyone in the local area who may benefit from working with Pathways. ‘I don’t think people realise that there’s a service out there in Rotherham that works on an individual basis, not just when it’s written in the worker’s diary.
‘There’s no risk to the service, if you miss a date. Alison was lovely as well, which was also a big help, but more importantly, I was made to feel that this wasn’t where I would stay for the rest of my life.
‘I felt I could improve, and I did.’