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Cath’s story

Joining a food co-op was one of the best things I did for my mental health

I was referred to Platfform through my local Community Mental Health Services.  I had experienced bouts of depression in the past but following a particularly difficult year where my marriage ended and my mother received a cancer diagnosis my mental health reached an all-time low, causing me to lose my job.

I became worried about meeting my finances; mortgage repayments, bills and supporting my daughter, and having never accessed the benefits system I was completely overwhelmed. That’s when I was put in touch with Platfform.

My first experience with was with the Tenancy Support programme which was fantastic.  The service offered practical advice so that I could work out what financial support I was entitled to.  Navigating the world of benefits can be difficult for anyone but when you’re unwell and under a lot of stress this support really is vital.

I then came into contact with Pathways to Employment.  This was the most amazing service for me and the people I worked with have truly helped me in the long-term.  Losing my job and being unwell meant that I had become isolated, I didn’t feel in a strong enough position to socialise or meet new people but Julie at Pathways met with me and suggested some events that we could both go to, helping me to feel supported.

I was introduced to the food co-op in Blackwood which has been the best thing for my mental health. I would never have gone to a support group as such, but the food co-op is like an alternative support group. People from all walks of life attend, we just all have one thing in common; that we have been touched by mental health difficulties in some way. I feel like I have now met ‘my people’, if you know what I mean?

I would never have gone to a support group as such, but the food co-op is like an alternative support group

Over the months I got to know people better and started to realise I was surrounded by people who got it, and therefore got me.  They genuinely cared about how I was feeling and would notice if I wasn’t myself, sometimes even before I had.  There’s a range of activities available which is great because we can all share skills, learn new things and I can practice things I enjoy like art and crochet.

I’ve now been volunteering for Platfform for over three and a half years.  This has been perfect for me as I’m not under pressure, I’m able to do things in my own time and build up my confidence gradually.

Platfform’s services helped me by looking at my needs as a whole person, not just what I needed help with but what I enjoyed doing and what my interests were and supported me to pursue this.

When your mental health is suffering you often need to look at all aspects of your life in order to rebuild and achieve a better balance

I don’t feel that everything is ‘fixed’ but I’ve realised that my mental health is something that I have to work on and maintain. I do want to work eventually and the support that I have received along with volunteering is helping me to build up to this when I’m ready.

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