Serving up cups of tea and coffee with an infectious smile, B has been volunteering at the Mission Café for almost five years. Watching her work, being a part of a functional team, bantering with friends and chatting with other Mission volunteers and staff, there’s a real sense of belonging that surrounds her. She seems confident and secure in herself. Bursting with optimism.
It’s difficult to believe that B hasn’t always had a safe place like this one where she can feel comfortable and be herself. “I’ve been coming here for four, maybe five Christmases.” B said when asked how long she’s been a part of the Mission family. “I go by Christmases, that’s how I remember my years!”
B first discovered the Mission and the services they offer when a close friend recommended she try her hand at the art group – an activity session held weekly in the Mission’s building. She has struggled with mental health problems all her life – so the art sessions act as an outlet where she can exert all of her creativity in a group full of like-minded people. “It’s helped me a lot actually…” B said, “I’ve been to other groups like it before and I never had the same kind of support.”
The support that B speaks of comes from the Mission’s dedicated advice team as well as the network of friends and positive relationships she has built during her time there. Speaking of her work in the Café and the Mission staff, B said, “If I’m feeling down, or if I’m not in the right mood for work, they all understand. They have a proper understanding of the people who come here and you wouldn’t get that in a normal workplace.”
B has made a particularly special bond with Samuel Moss, the Advice and Activities Officer, with whom she speaks to regularly regarding her wellbeing. “He knows all about me and what I’m like and my reputation…” B said. “All the advisers get to know you really well, but Samuel is the main one for me, even with his bad jokes!”
B’s wit and upbeat attitude is something to be admired given the adversaries she faces with her mental health. She now attends various different groups and activities that she says help to maintain this infectious positivity. “We’ve been able to do some classes together…” B said, gesturing towards her friend sat next to her in the Café, “I’ve done the music group, the creative writing group… Whatever Sam suggests to me, I’ll give it a go!”
B then went on to joke about her love life, “I even got set up on a dating app once, but that didn’t work out!”
Speaking about the Mission’s other customers, many of whom she is in regular contact with, B spoke about the positive impact it has being around other people with similar problems to her own. “If you saw some of the people in here out on the streets, some people would run a mile!” She said, “But being here, you kind of learn their stories and it helps you to understand them and then your own problems don’t seem so bad.”
Now, B wants to encourage other people who need help to follow in her footsteps and visit the Mission with their own troubles. “I’ve told people to come down and play monopoly, I’ve told people to come down and get some advice, I’ve even told people to just come and get a hot drink or a lovely breakfast.” B said.
Her friend started laughing, “She will tell complete strangers to come here!”
In a nutshell, this demonstrates the type of community and friendship-orientated place the Mission is. It is a place where positive wellbeing can flourish and loneliness can be extinguished. A place with safety and communication at its heart.
“I’d say if anyone has a problem, whether it be addiction, mental health, or even if you just want to come in for a chat, if you’re feeling down then come to the Mission.” B said. “Plus, they do a really good breakfast!”
As B hung up her apron for the day after a successful shift in the Café, she had just four words for the Mission and its staff, ‘a big thank you!”
B is just one of many vulnerable people who seek help at Huddersfield Mission. Here, we believe that mental health is just as important as physical health, and we want to break the stigmas surrounding it. If you or anyone you know needs a safe place and someone trustworthy to talk to, come to Huddersfield Mission and we’ll put the kettle on!
It all starts with a brew!
Comfortably sat inside the Mission’s chapel with an approachable smile and a hot brew, F has the bright eyes of an undefeatable optimist who refuses to be broken by the obstacles of her past. She has been visiting Huddersfield Mission, on and off, since 2008 when she discovered the Methodist church which felt more homely to her than her previous congregation. England has been F’s home for fifteen years since she moved from elsewhere in Europe. She seems settled and content in the place where she is, however the events of her childhood and complications with her mental health have meant that F hasn’t always had an easy time settling in to a happy and fulfilling life.
“I went through a very long term depression…” F said, talking about the circumstances that led her to have an episode which ultimately landed her in hospital. “I went through a lot of stress, always moving from country to country...” “…What I discovered was that I was completely disconnected from society. I started to isolate myself from everybody.”
The disconnection that F speaks of is a theme that runs through the veins of her battle with depression and isolation. Thankfully, she has received support and advice from hospital staff and from Huddersfield Mission who have played a key role in getting her back on her feet. “When I started coming here it felt automatic…” She said, “I was getting the advice and the company that everyone needs here and that helped me to find my voice and to break down the part of things that were making me feel disconnected.”
During her childhood, F’s ‘dysfunctional family’ situation meant that she was always restricted in terms of thing’s she could do. She was prohibited from having friends and having fun and because of this, F hasn’t always been able to express herself in her own way. She says that her time at the Mission has helped her to gain the confidence she needs to move forward from the memories of her past. “After I got out of hospital, I tried to engage in all the groups that I could, coming to the Mission and taking my steps of social interactions...” F said, “Now I’m able to do what I want, say what I want and really be completely and fully myself.”
The Mission have been there for F during some of her most critical moments over the previous ten years. When she was too ill to attend meetings regarding her benefits and her payments were cancelled, the Mission provided food for her to keep her standing upright. If F ever needs to make a phone call, she knows she’s always welcome to use the Mission’s facilities. “I don’t think I have ever left the Mission without a solution…” F said, “One year, they even gave me a present for my birthday!”
“The Mission is like a full house of everything... I was going to say it’s like a home, but it’s even bigger than a home… It’s beautiful!”
F is now studying English at college to further her speaking proficiency, adding to her list of qualifications that also includes a university degree. She also attends bible studies at the Mission alongside her friends whom she met through the organisation. After all of her hardships, F is now thriving – and although her road to recovery isn’t completely over – she’s come a long, long way thanks to all the staff and volunteers at Huddersfield Mission!
If you or anyone you know needs a safe place and someone trustworthy to talk to, come down to Huddersfield Mission and we’ll put the kettle on!
It all starts with a brew!