“If it hadn’t been for Opportunity Nottingham, I wouldn’t be here today. They helped me address my mental health issues.”
Mark joined the Opportunity Nottingham project at the very beginning and has been a Beneficiary for over three years. He has experienced issues with substance misuse including excessive alcohol consumption, illegal drugs use and butane gas. Prior to accessing the project, if Mark had an issue which affected him emotionally (such as a bereavement), he would increase his use of substances in order to cope. This in turn, would have a very damaging effect on his physical and mental health, and also put him at risk of losing his accommodation. When joining Opportunity Nottingham, Mark felt that he had been stuck in a “real life game of snakes and ladders” since he left the care system over twenty years ago.
However, everything changed when Mark was referred to the Primary Care Mental Health Service in Nottingham. This service includes a post funded by Opportunity Nottingham and offers very flexible support for people in mental ill health crisis. Such has been the impact of the service that in Mark’s words “if it weren’t for them… it’s not an exaggeration to say I’d be dead.” When first accessing the service, Mark had experienced a number of challenging circumstances in his personal life. However, with the support of his PCMHS Support Worker, he was able to cope in different ways, and did not turn to alcohol or butane gas. Weekly meetings helped Mark “get stuff off his chest” and provided a focus as well as a source of support. As part of these meetings, his PCMHS Support Worker introduced different psychological ideas for actions that could help Mark when he reached a point that might trigger a drug and alcohol lapse.
Since engaging with the PCMHS, Mark has been able to develop his role as an Opportunity Nottingham Expert Citizen. He is now supporting Opportunity Nottingham in a range of activities, including participating in policy consultations and staff recruitment. For the first time in many years, Mark can see a positive future ahead.