01/02/13 Neither a castle nor a Douglas to be seen.


Dear mr/ms/ mrs trades descriptions person…imagine my horror when I arrived in Castle Douglas to find, or more correctly not to find….

It has stopped raining so I decided to treat myself to a phone call to the Stewartry resource centre…

‘When were you thinking about visiting?’ Jenny was dealing very well with my excited ramblings.

Simon Bradstreet – he of the Scottish Recovery network fane – had pointed me in the direction of this resource for folk with a mental malady in Castle Douglas.

Bob, the manager did well to sound welcoming. We agreed that I’d wander round in half an hour.

So warm was Bob’s welcome that I momentarily looked behind me to see if one of his long lost friends had arrived.

No, it was me he was greeting.

And that’s kind of how it went. He introduced my to his colleagues – Jenny and the friendly neighbourhood occupational therapist, Vicky from the community mental health team.

We talked openly like old friends – it rapidly became clear they were all passionate about what they do.

I smiled at Bob’s delight at his own delight at what he does. I’m going to ask him to write a little bit for walk a mile – but in crude summary they’re into inclusion. Their goal is to enable folk in a mental pickle to regain their confidence in themselves and their abilities either through social type activities or exploring access to education, work – either voluntary or unpaid.

They have managed to body swerve the department of work and pensions mandatory work programme where folk on benefits are forced to work for their huge incomes (yes, I know, sarcasm is the lowest form of…).

Bob told me about a guy they’d worked with who’d become ill whilst working for the National Trust.

This was a tricky situation in that, like many folk, the staff at the National Trust didn’t have a great understanding of mental health issues.

Bob worked with them and the service user to close the knowledge gap.

The result? The resource centre now has a workshop in the National Trust grounds where they can do National Trusty things.

They also do a range of outdoory things including public path maintenance and beach clearing….outside ‘normal hours’.

I’m glad this practice has spread widely – when I first entered the social workery world we were told that day centres did ‘x’ and they would only provide a service between the hours of…a and b and lunch had to be at…

And another thing…they supported a self employed man when he became unwell. They ensured his business was kept ticking over while he received the treatment he required.

This is particularly challenging when done informally – without the big clumsy legal instruments like guardianship or power of attorney.

But it worked.

I didn’t just take the professional’s word for it – I got to meet a couple of women who used the service – we spoke without any staff around and they were delighted with the centre…they were less delighted with some of their other supports which still seem to be down to individual workers/ postcode/ the rotation of the earth…

The frustrating thing regarding health and social care is that it’s not rocket science. It’s about gaining confidence to facilitate honesty – and then listening – and listening some more .

I left the centre – you can find them here –


with a smile on my face. The sun was shining and some birds were distinctly twitterpated in some nearby trees.

Crows and jackdaws are having altercations and sheep are still terrified of Hubert.

The temperature has dropped like a stone and I’m writing this from the comfort of the Chrisalis – in my tent – in a soggy field. My gloved left hand is clutching the phone while my gradually freezing right hand is dancing over the keys.

I’m going to batten down the hatches now…

Goodnight Mary-Ellen…

Walk a mile


This entry was posted in inequality, mental health, social work, Uncategorized, walking and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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