The Messenger went to visit Burngreave residents Andrew Martin and Nahid Aziz, in order to find out more about their work at Community Action Halfway, a voluntary sector provider of mental health services.
Andrew and Nahid have both taken up working in the area after completing their university courses. Halfway has residential and community support services, an OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) support service, a programme for volunteers and a befriending service.
Nahid, along with colleagues Jonathan and John, is particularly concerned with supporting people with OCD, an anxiety disorder which involves unwanted intrusive thoughts, tiresome rituals and a great deal of stress and hardship.
Nahid told us:
“Although OCD can affect anyone from any background, there is a lack of information and understanding about the condition and cultural differences may create other barriers to getting help – a problem which is no doubt evident in areas such as Burngreave,”
“The most common ways are hygiene and contamination – feeling you have to wash your hands and yourself constantly, and safety: checking locks and bolts, etc. Often there is a need to maintain an ‘orderly and tidy’ routine and almost constant feelings of guilt. It’s important to know that OCD is a treatable condition and that people need not suffer in silence.”
Andrew runs a scheme to encourage volunteers to get involved. He says,
“We get people to carry out a range of tasks. As well as the befriending, we help people to partake in ‘key work’ with a client – things like budgeting and cooking. Life skills, if you like.”
“I’ve found it a great job. It’s very rewarding, doing something with someone that gives them a better quality of life.”
Halfway’s befriending service, run by Gail, can simply mean meeting with people to reduce their isolation and getting them out.
“We are always on the look out for more befrienders. It can be individually rewarding, as well as offering a good route into Mental Health or Social Work.”
If you are interested in helping out as a volunteer or if you think you might be interested in any of these services yourself, you can look on Community Action Halfway's website, contact Halfway on 279 6777 or take a look at the OCD Action website.