"We met in Brighton General when we were day patients and we didn’t see each other for years"
It’s good to have volunteers who can offer a lot through their lived experience. I feel supported and people are being encouraged to do things. People want to feel someone cares.
Tim: I first came to Preston Park in 1985 when it was a day centre. I’d been in Brighton General Hospital with mental illness and when I came out I couldn’t go back to work. They put me in a group home and I came here every day. There was nothing much for us – it wasn’t really meant for younger people. Coming here seemed like forever.
Karen: We met in Brighton General when we were day patients and we didn’t see each other for years. I wasn’t well, I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t inspired to do anything there.
I came here in 1985 for the first time and met Tim and we got talking. I liked him anyway and it was a relief to see him. I was so shy.
That first night I said, “I don’t like your beard much,” and the next day he came to the BBQ clean shaven and I knew he must like me to shave his treasured beard off.
So that second night, we arranged to meet outside a pub a week later. He invited me to his group home for a cup of tea. We met at the group home and we were going out properly. We learnt there were lots of patterns and coincidences.
Tim: I came here quite a bit – cos I knew the elderly people. I did pottery here, made ash trays. I played cards a lot. People were very nice, the people that ran it were nice.
I never really got what I needed though.
Karen: My feeling was that there was no real structure, encouragement, or enthusiasm. It was more about people drifting.
Tim: It is better now. I’ve got a support worker. Back then, I didn’t see anyone here. It was a necessity to come here. I had to. I was in such an uncomfortable state with the drugs.
Karen: Things that are good about Preston Park now are it’s good to have volunteers who can offer a lot through their lived experience. I feel supported and people are being encouraged to do things. People want to feel someone cares.
Tim: I’m more positive now, cos the drugs are better. I’ve changed a lot cos I’m older. I like people and friendship. The alternative is to just stay at home. It’s nice to have a purpose – I’m a peer mentor.
Karen: and I’m a craft group volunteer facilitator.
Preston Park Recovery Centre provides a welcoming and supportive environment in which people with mental health support needs can receive individual support, learn new skills and get involved in a variety of employment service, a welfare benefits service and can refer onto other services such as housing groups and activities. The Centre also provides access to our specialist and health.