Seeing the impact that mental health issues can have for people, led Wes to want to make a difference through his work as Peer Support Worker at Vinnies Mental Health Service accommodation.
Wes moved into the mental health sector 5 years ago after coming from a varied background as a trained chef, boiler maker and as he terms it, a “jack of all trades”.
In his role, Wes works alongside people who have a mental health diagnosis and helps them establish healthy lifestyle practices, reconnect with the community and enhance the quality of lives for individuals who might find it difficult to do this independently. He says that the motivation behind his work comes from his own experiences, witnessing the struggles and barriers people can face living with mental health issues.
“What appeals the most to me is the opportunity to draw from my experience, think outside the box and show genuine understanding and compassion to the residents at the village; with the desire to help enhance their opportunities in life and help them reclaim stability.” Wes said.
Wes has been instrumental in establishing a consumer committee at The Village, part of Vinnies Mental Health Service, which encourages residents to participate in the planning and delivery of day to day activities as well as being a valuable part of decision making for policies, procedures and guidelines. Wes sits on the Committee in his role as Peer Support Worker and was incredibly proud when they won the Tenant Led Initiative Award at the Australasian Housing Institutes Annual Awards in 2018.
Personalised support and person-centred relationships is the key to Vinnies Mental Health Service delivery which Wes believes make a difference and helps residents to reach achievements, both big and small, each day in their own mental health journeys. He recalls a time last year when a client transitioned from The Village into one of Vinnies Community Shared Houses, and some of the challenges he was facing adjusting to his new environment.
“I started bringing him to The village with me on weekends to help me prepare the meals for the residents. I’ve been cooking on weekends for around 4 years now, and capacity building our clients as well as providing an outlet where they can become creative. I’m amazed how far this resident has come in the past year. He is hands down one of the most trustworthy and hardworking guys I’ve ever worked with. Even though he still has challenges that he’s working through I can picture him running a kitchen or the very least working in one in the near future.”
Wes sums up his role at The Village as one of the most challenging yet rewarding of his career and how important it is for him to help people on their mental health journey and recovery.
“Each day I hope to achieve a sense of satisfaction that I used all my ability and skills to help build a foundation of security, stability and inclusion for the residents and improve their quality of life little by little.”