by Aaliyah Buchanan
To honour Mental Health Awareness Week 2017 I thought I would write about the amazing experience I had when visiting NewLink Wales, a well-being charity located in Cardiff that helps people from a variety of backgrounds and walks of life move on from problems that were previously holding them back, including: substance misuse, confidence issues, anxiety, psychological trauma, mental health issues, offending behaviour and a range of other social problems. Last year they expanded the organisation from only helping people with substance misuse problems to a wider scope of issues, as they found that substance misuse is usually a symptom of something bigger going on. Whilst I was there I was told about the three important ways that enable them to carry out their important work. The first being volunteering, they provide similar wellbeing organisations with passionate, supportive and well trained volunteers who help with the day to day running’s and really motivate the service users to stay focused on their recovering. They also train professionals who can then go on to work in wellbeing organisations to help prevent substance misuse before it happens, or if it has to motivate service users on their road to recovery. They also run programmes that enable service users in their recovery to get back out in their communities by getting involved in meaningful projects, and as a result get back to the people they once were. These three things together provide people in recovery with the tools they need to prevent relapses and maintain control of their lives.
When visiting NewLink Wales I got the opportunity to meet some service users and the professionals who help run the charity. I was over whelmed by their positivity, joy and the strong sense of unity. I got the wonderful opportunity to talk to one of the service users, Ruth, whose life has been completely altered by NewLink Wales and other services that have helped her during her recovery. Ruth told me about her experience with addiction and how NewLink Wales not only gave her the tools she needed to get control of her life again and the hope to go on, but they gave her access to courses that she has completed that have her on the right track to paid employment. She has been given the support and training to be able to do the job of helping vulnerable people get back on track, like herself. I found her story and journey inspiring, the progress that she has made is absolutely amazing and I encourage anyone who is struggling with mental or substance misuse problems to seek help from organisations like NewLink Wales, as in one afternoon I was in awe of the people that work there and the service users who have found a home in this charity.
Besides learning about the vital work the charity does and meeting some of the people whose lives are impacted the most, I got the chance to witness the rehearsal of their annual pantomime. For the past three years they have written and performed modern twists on classic tales, this year’s pantomime being A-Lad-In-A Talent Contest…for those that couldn’t guess this year’s pantomime is a twist on the classic tale, Aladdin. Throughout the entire rehearsal they had me grinning, smiling and cheering along with the characters. This witty script is a wonderful adaption on the original tale, and I encourage anyone to go and see the final performance! You will not be disappointed. After talking to Sue O’Brien, the charities community fundraiser, I understood the importance of raising money through their annual fundraisers, however she also made it extremely clear that for them it’s not just about the money, it’s about changing the lives of their service users and potential users. When speaking to Ruth, a service user that I mentioned previously, she told me how much these annual pantomimes have helped her build confidence and focus on her recovery. Sue could not help but sing Ruth’s praises about how she had clearly grown and healed through fundraisers like these ones. For organisations like NewLink Wales it’s about the bigger picture, even if they can just impact one person’s life they’re doing their job.
If you would like more information about this amazing organisation please follow this link: https://www.newlinkwales.org.uk/
Or if you would like to see this amazing pantomime follow this link: https://www.newlinkwales.org.uk/Event/summer-panto-a-lad-in-a-talent-show