Getting my life back

Before people can engage with activities to help get them back to life they have to know what’s out there. That’s the view of Stephen Murphy who made a great ambassador for SRA (Southside Rehabilitation Association), when he fronted their stall at the recent Living Well Network open event.

The monthly event at the Living Well Partnership in Brixton, brings together services, organisations and individuals who are supporting people to build on their assets to help them move on and get the best out of their lives.

Stephen, 57, was introduced to SRA by his CPN. He believes it was timely as he had become totally isolated, “It was the length of isolation that was taking its toll,” says Stephen who joined SRA three months ago.  “I was suffering from stress and becoming anxious and I realised I had to do something about it.”

While Stephen stresses it was important for him to make that decision, some of the things that helped included the relationships he forged at this difficult time.  “I had a CPN who was constantly trying to encourage me to try and become more active, but I found it difficult. I had tried going to another day centre and tried to educate myself further with limited success.  After another very long period of isolation and not being able to do anything even though I had plenty of interests my CPN suggested and introduced me to SRA.”

Stephen, whose bi polar diagnosis came later in life, identifies other positive moments in his journey. He joined Mosaic Clubhouse in 1997, “it felt like a very good place where I fitted in,” he says. Although he is still a member he felt he needed other options to enable him to take the next steps.

Now he is participating in the training programme at SRA’s West Norwood site four mornings a week and learning to word process. “I feel SRA suits me more now. Here I am also doing courses, which SRA has introduced me to, to improve my skills and knowledge and better understand how I can help myself.  I am doing a Driving Ambition course (through First Step Trust, see below) and have signed up to do courses to help me understand my illness and the ways it affects me. I attended a course, organised by the Recovery College (see below) about understanding substance abuse and Mental Health.  It makes me feel better about myself if I can attend and more so if I am able to participate.  On this occasion I was able to.  It also helps me feel more confident to continue and build on these experiences.”

Real work experience

Says Stephanie Correia, SRA’s  Chief Executive Officer:  “We work with people with serious mental health problems who want to return to open employment. In order to give people real work experience we run three social enterprises- printing, catering and cleaning – and we are always looking for people who want to recover, who need help to get back to work and engage in the community.

“We also provide work placements or volunteering opportunities for our local community. These people help us to run and manage the organisation,” adds Stephanie of SRA, which has been providing these services since 1991.

Come and see us if you want to:

• Improve your work and social interaction skills and mental well-being

• Increase your confidence, independence and employment potential

• Get help to access adult education, other services and employment

Contact Stephanie or Caroline on 020 8766 6688 or Email:;

Check us out on

Driving Ambition (First Step Trust) is an incentive scheme enabling young adults with mental health problems to gain a driving licence and improve their job prospects.

Click here for more information about Driving Ambition.

The Recovery College runs workshops and courses to help participants become an expert in their own recovery or that of someone they care for. Call 020 3228 3643 or email:

or check out their website:

Karen Hooper

Photos: Ade

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