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Recovery is not about finding a miracle cure or returning to how things used to be. It’s about finding a happier, healthier, and more sustainable life that recognises the past, accepts the limitations of the present and is full of hopes for the future.


Simon Hayes

Lee's story

- it will stay with you because it is profound and courageous.



I am 26 years old and I have suffered with anxiety and depression for a number of years. I dont know when this crept up on me. I just know that it did. Black, despair, and lost are the words that come to mind to describle how I felt. My future looked grim; in fact I could not look ahead at all.


I came to Headlight 3 years ago and slowly, with support, I was encouraged to join in some activities. I joined the Art Group and I was delighted when my work was chosen to be displayed in Headlight's Art Exhibition. I found that my confidence was growing and I began to feel less isolated.


I started accessing Out of Hours Service. I made friends and over time began to help out. I gradually began to believe in myself and in my abilities. I discovered that I liked helping others reach their goals. Tricia the manager approached me about volunteering in the Out of Hours Service and I heard myself saying 'yes', and this made a huge difference to my life. I participated in training and I began to recognise that my anxiety and depression was significantly reduced. I felt motivated to move forward. The more I became involved, the more I identified that I had lots of skills and an ability to communicate really well with young people and older people.


Headlight has been instrumental throughout my recovery process. I began to make decisions about my life. I am very interested in music and I learned to play the bass guitar myself some years ago. I have always dreamed of being in a band. I found myself doing just that. I joined a band called 'Clint' and we currently play gigs all over the North East and I absolutely love it.


My support is ongoing at Headlight and I feel I belong and this is such a good feeling. Tricia secured funding and I applied for a job as a Support Worker. I got it. This was a massive achievement and a momentous turning point for me.


Developing as a Support Worker gave me a new focus. I completed a Level 2 Diploma in Health & Social Care. I enjoyed learning the theory behind my practice and I wanted to take this further. With support and encouragement from Tricia I applied to university for the Community & Youth Work course and I secured a place. I have just passed and completed my first year. I cant believe it - everythings just sinking in.


I feel whole again. I am achieving and I can manage my anxiety most of the time. I feel so much more in control. Gaining the ability to believe in myself has given me the confidence to get my life back on track. I am so excited about my future.


This has been a journey I will never forget and one that I am so grateful happened when it did, because I sought the right support for me when I needed it.


The notion that I am supporting others on their personal journey means so much.


Thank you to everyone at Headlight for believing in me





This next story is heartfelt and highlights that being a part of something really does make a difference - Diane's story.




I am diagnosed with Chronic Paranoid Schizophrenia with severe Anxiety & Depression. I am often troubled with hearing voices; this is so hard for me to cope with. When the voices are loud I become very paranoid, and my days are filled with dark thoughts. My Community Psychiatric Nurse introduced me to Headlight 5 years ago. From that point on, things for me became much more bearable. I began to access the support and became a member. I found that I enjoyed going to Headlight. I made friends and we support each other.


I gained confidence over time and I began to volunteer. I helped out when I could and began to look forward to my days. The staff had faith in my abilities, even when I didnt. This felt good and helped me deal with the negative voices. My good days became more frequent. I began to rediscover existing skills and develop new ones. I liked volunteering in the office and wanted to do more. I was approached about becoming a Management Committee Member. I thought about this for some time and eventually, with the encouragement of staff and other volunteers, I decided to say yes. My input was valued and I found myself offering my opinion about important decisions. My confidence grew and the difference in me was massive. On a good day I helped prepare for the meetings. I became aware of policy and procedure, I participated in training, and managed to focus less on the voices and more on my life.


I felt proud of what I had achieved. I had been a Trustee for a year and wanted to reapply for the Committee. To my delight I was put forward for the position of Secretary, and I was gob smacked when people voted for me. This gave me a massive boost and a realisation that everyone at Headlight actually believed in me and had faith in my abilities.


I am currently the Secretary of Headlight, a fantastic organisation that supports so many people just like me in Sunderland. I have seen so many develop and grow and all have similar stories to mine.


Headlight for me is like a lifeline in the community where I know I can just be me and no one will judge. I have found that the support I receive supports me to stay out of Hopewood Park Hospital and remain in the community.


Today I really feel a part of something that helps me to cope with my illness and I now support others to cope with theirs. The most staggering thing for me to date is that even on a bad day (and I do still have bad days) I still want to get out of bed and attend Headlight where people really care and believe in me. I cant believe how far I have come. So, to all who have given me the strength to cope, carry on, and grow - thank you from the bottom of my heart. Headlight really is a place to belong.




This story highlights the sense of belonging that resides in Headlight.


Julie's story.




I initially came to Headlight with the intention of acquiring a volunteer position. At the time I was struggling badly with my own personal battle with mental health and I found myself needing to access the project. I became a member of Headlight and I started attending some weekly activities, such as the Womens Group and Art Group. I enjoy the social aspects which the groups provide - the chance to make friends and partake in informal discussions. Attending and taking part in activities enabled me, if only for a short period, to forget about my illness and concentrate on the activity in hand. I think that being involved in a creative process such as art can have a therapeutic effect on ones sense of wellbeing, which is something I think that I benefit from.


I have been coming to Headlight for about three years. In that length of time I have gone on to become a volunteer, involved in many aspects of the organisation, such as co-facilitating the Womens Group and the Art Group. Whilst volunteering for the project I have completed a level 2 NVQ in Health & Social Care, and gone on to be a Trustee on Headlight's Management Committee.


For me, Headlight has become a way of life - an integral part of my wellbeing. And of course the centre would be nothing without its members and staff, who all contribute to the running and unique dynamics of Headlight as a whole. For me, coming to Headlight and accessing the project has enabled me to regain valuable social skills, a sense of self worth and confidence in myself and my own abilities. I would like to thank the members and the staff for allowing me to be part of the project. Headlight for me is definately - A place to belong.






If Headlight seems a place where you could belong, pop in for a Meet and Greet -

Your story could be next...


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