Focus 4 1 has helped me to gain confidence to speak openly about my mental health and has given me a safe and supportive environment to go to no matter the way I am feeling I never feel I cannot go even when in crisis as the support I am given from the other member as well as the facilitators has helped me to feel supported I can talk openly with the members as well as the facilitators and it feels very comforting to have somewhere to go to a group were you can relate to others!

Also the facilitators have helped speak on my behalf and support me to find my voice when I feel my mental health team are not supporting or hearing what I have had to say or when things have become so overwhelming and I have lost my voice and hope focus for 1 has helped me to find my voice again and has helped me to see I do deserve better treatment from others.

Vanessa has come with me to several appointments which has really helped me to feel supported and has helped me to find my voice and has given me the confidence to be assertive and express my needs were as before I would just hideaway and feel very alone and isolated with my thoughts and the way I am feeling!
It has also helped me to be more open about my past in turn has helped me to open up more to professionals and in therapy as seeing others be brave and talk about issues that have affected them in a non judgmental environment has given me the courage to talk a lot more openly about what is affecting me past and present!

I have been given opportunities to facilitate parts of the group and share with others some of the skills that I have been taught through therapy such as self soothe kits and it's been very helpful as other members also facilitate and share skills they have learnt or share things that help them!
The group has helped me realise I am more than a mental health diagnosis and I do deserve to be treated with respect! As well as I need to be more kind to myself in turn has helped reduce myself harm! As I have people to talk to that understand and are non judgmental and supportive I feel valued and cared for by all at focus 4 1 and will forever be thankful for all they have and still do to help me!

- MC


Focus 41 welcome you with kindness and give you acceptance. They are like having another family everyone is friendly and treat you with respect and everything that is said in the room stays in the room so its very confidential there are different people with different mental health problems that come to our group but we were all treated the same and not judged I suffer with clinical depression and with Mania and other health problems including anxiety have saved my life in many of ways somebody to always talk to at the end of phone, a group to go to on a Tuesday where I can talk to other people and have a coffee and generally socialise for just two hours but two hours is better than 0 hrs.


There is always someone to talk too or they will leave you till your ready to talk. It used to be twice a week but it's had to drop down to one due to funding. We sometimes have hot snacks but there is always fruit offered. We also have people come into the group and do different things with us. We have service users sharing their skills Focus4-1 always encourage this as part of people's recovery. Vanessa and Musa they are main people that run focus4-1 Merton they are amazing they also have mental health problems but put them aside to help others in their struggles.


Everyones birthday are celebrated when they're at group as a lot of the users that go live alone and focus 41 is the only place they see and meet people each week to talk to. Everybody is different there is also a recovery Cafe which we are encouraged to use in the evening and weekends when focus4-1 it's not open and all day Saturday and Sunday where we can go and have a chat cup of tea or coffee there is also the home treatment team there so if you have any problems there's always somebody to talk to.


FOCUS4-1 have saved my life and many others in the community. While i am there i don’t feel judged by my illness i can relax and listen to what activities they have on each week for us to enjoy. FOCUS4-1 is a credit to the community and I don't know what us users would do without them.


Mental health problems can affect the way you think, feel and behave. Foucus4-1 can help you understand what is happening, and find the right treatment or point you in the right direction to help you in to recovery.

- Hollie


I am a musician, writer, father and good friend. Focus 4 1 has taught me my diagnosis is ONLY part of me and I am proof that there is a life with Schizophrenia it is not all doom and gloom as lots of people assume.

Vanessa and Focus 4 1 have helped, encouraged me to look at aspects of my life, that had previously and continually eluded me. With Vanessa help I have started to take more note of my Mental Health and general wellbeing….from cutting down alcohol and smoking, encouraging me to keep faith in with Passion of music; and writing short stories.

Focus 4 1 is not only a Tuesday weekly group but an umbrella of support that I have been fortunate in being able to tap into. I have issues with my housing, care coordinator, parents who live abroad (Dominica) lost their home due to hurricane and I could not cope without Focus 4 1. The access in one to one with Vanessa, who uses her Neuro-Lingustic Programming skills, has helped me help myself in all areas of my life. Ongoing One to One support with Vanessa on a Wednesday for 2 hours/week at my local café also helps me tap into my skills and accept that I am not the only BAME member whose family do not acknowledge my mental distress and Focus 4 1 is the platform for me where I can be me….real.

Vanessa & Focus 4 1 have helped in re-building my confidence… so much so I now hold monthly writing & story telling workshops at the Focus 4 1 support group (at Vestry Hall Mitcham), encouraging others to get involved and supporting them deliver. I represent Focus 4 1 at Trust meetings. Things are looking up for me as I now have a purpose.

- Boris


After a lifetime of building barriers around myself, I've been released by having Intentional Peer Support with Vanessa on a regular 1 to 1 basis. With the immense support in hours of regular 1 to 1 meetings + the hours of phone chatting and supportive text messaging, the encouragement has been invaluable. So this uneducated regular truant sits here typing willing to learn and wanting to go forward with a better quality of living for LIFE!


With immense gratitude and greatest RESPECT. To Vanessa Anenden, in mutual respect + mutual understanding has changed my life around. Vanessa always listens intently with eye contact + smiles a lot, this makes me feel so at ease that I have confided many personal traumatic experiences, that I would NEVER tell professionals or family. I never feel talked down to or looked down upon. Talking over my personal issues and seeking solutions, I always feel understood with genuine concern + positive feedbacks endorsed with immense encouragement. Have also been signposted to many professional agencies, which has lifted great life burdens that gradually regaining confidence + reconnecting with people. I am presently learning new skills, embracing my positive life experience skills + strategies, often two steps forward one step back but Intentional Peer Support moving towards + mutuality is special because it works!


I may not be running but going towards better Quality of life where adding to my health issues.

- A Merton Service User


Vanessa helped me to connect better into the community in terms of meeting up with someone regularly who had shared experiences of mental health issues. This enables me to feel more confident to discuss certain aspects of myself with others and less sensitive to mental health stigma. I have found that this mutual understanding helped me to be more honest with others and work towards getting employment again. Through networking I was able to find out about a job and was honest with them about my mental health.


The 1 to 1 peer support has encouraged me to support others and feel less isolated in the community coping with a mental illness. It is helpful to have this support and be signposted to groups of other helpful things. The 1 to 1 peer support was also more personal then a group so enabled me to move towards personal goals that were discussed during the sessions. I felt that it was my space and was not forced into thinking but supported with my own.

- SG


You have been a very positive role model, support and inspiration to so many people in Merton, and you should be very proud of yourself. Before Focus-4-1, Merton service users had nobody to speak for them or support them, and the way that you others have developed the organisation has been a credit to you. I know that being in positions of responsibility and expectation can bring its own pressures, and you need to give time to look after yourself as well as others. Working with you and Focus 4-1 has been one of the aspects of my role that I have enjoyed most.

- Mark Clenaghan
Head of Service Delivery, Urgent & Acute Care

Hi, my name is Michelle,

I would like to share my experience of  FOCUS 4 1 with you all.

I became a member of FOCUS 4 1 peer support group in Dec 2015, I was referred by my key worker at Merton CDAS, I had recently gone through a very harrowing and traumatic court case, I was feeling very lost, emotionally drained and upset, and I was at total rock bottom, I have had severe depression , anxiety and PTSD for many years, I didn't think that I could sink any lower, but here I was at the bottom of the pit from hell.


 I had been isolated, lonely, and feeling worthless, totally cut off from society. I had never been to a support group in my life and to be honest I wasn't sure what to expect,i was so scared and nervous, as I walked into the Vestry hall the nerves overwhelmed me, but as I entered into the actual group I felt suddenly at ease I said "hello" and was met with warmth and  a friendly feeling that I hadn't felt for such a long time, the atmosphere was calming and I felt relaxed.

I quickly settled into the many activities, I made friends and for the first time in my life I actually felt part of something, all of my peers were great, such sincere, genuine people, no judgements they just took me as I am.

It's a place to forget your worries, have a laugh, have fun, Vanessa and Musa who are the directors are brilliant,

we all have such a great time, I celebrated my 50th birthday with FOCUS 4 1, they made me feel so special I will never forget that day.

Even to this day in 2018 I feel FOCUS is one of the best things I've ever done, and when ever I happen to be out and about and I meet another member of the group we hug and have a chat, FOCUS 4 1 helped me to feel part of humanity again, part of society and to feel important and worthy, and that I am somebody with worth and purpose to go forward and live my life, it helped to lessen the impact of my traumatic experiences.

I will always be grateful to FOCUS 4 1

I will always be a member of FOCUS 4 1."

- Michelle

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