Voluntary Organisations, also known as the ‘Third Sector’, have always had a close relationship with Social Services and we contract with particular groups to deliver certain aspects of support to our service users. Often, people prefer to engage with voluntary groups for ongoing support rather than remain in public sector services and we wanted to provide an onward service that enhanced and complemented the work of our Community Mental Health Teams.
In 2014 we began to review our contracts for people with mental health issues and support for carers of adults with mental health issues, as they were due to end in March 2016. It is important that we make sure that all our services are fit for purpose and offer the most effective and valuable support to our service users. Research tells us that the best way to help people manage their mental health problems better and gain control over their lives is an approach called ‘recovery’. This does not mean recovery in the same way as someone fully recovers from a physical illness but does offer hope and ‘the belief that it is possible for someone to regain a meaningful life, despite serious mental illness.’ 
With this in mind, we began to design a new service that would be delivered by the third sector for ongoing support to those people with mental health issues. To help us with our ideas we involved our Participation Team who spoke to people currently receiving services to find out what has been the most beneficial and made the biggest difference to their lives. The end result is a new service called ‘Recovery Compass’, which will be delivered by Aberconwy Mind from April 2016. Everyone who goes on the ‘Recovery Compass’ will receive a ‘Wellness Recovery Action Plan’ or WRAP, which is the individual’s plan entirely tailored to their needs and ambitions for the future. The eight key points on the compass are: Participation, Peer Support, Employability, Coaching, Social Interaction, Social Therapies, Learning and Achieving, Information and Advice.
For some service users their experience of the ‘recovery compass’ will be having some information and advice about their condition and the best ways to manage it or signposting to other groups more suited to them. For others it will be joining in activities with others that help their physical and mental wellbeing or being part of a peer group that provides support to others in a similar situation. Some individuals will utilise all the services as part of the compass, which will offer opportunities to learn new skills that can lead on to work experience and employment. Whichever aspects of the Recovery Compass are important to the service user, the main aim is to go beyond managing symptoms but to allow people to increase or maintain their own wellbeing, including them in their communities and giving opportunities to contribute and participate in society.
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