How we began
Changes Bristol is a mental health charity that began in 2003 when people with lived experience came together to form a support network that did not exist at the time; like-minded people who believed in the power of peer support and lived experience.
We began with a single support group on Cheltenham Road and developed our model of peer support through the endeavours of our members and our founder Richard Pearce. We became affiliated to Changes: Health and Wellbeing (in Stoke) and became a Community Association in 2005 and later a Charity in 2007.
We developed gradually and organically opening more support meetings as members and organisations came to us requesting support in their communities. We championed peer support and the benefit of lived experience long before these terms were well known, fashionable or acceptable in mainstream mental health services, and managed to grow our support networks despite the lack of statutory funding. In 2017 we became an incorporated charity and further expanded our support services.
Where are we now?
We have expanded substantially over the last 5 years becoming more sustainable and helping more peopl. We now offer a range of services including a network of support groups across Bristol, multiple online support meetings, and a peer 1-to-1 befriending service. We also offer great opportunities through volunteering and student placements. We have developed as an organisation through the experience of our members, developing our services to meet the needs of communities throughout Bristol and the surrounding area through our peer support model.
We provide education and training to organisations and businesses including Mental Health Awareness; Resilience in the Workplace; Benefits of Peer Support. We also have courses to help organisations set up their own peer support models including for Junior Doctors. We will be able to provide Mental Health First Aid courses from mid-2021.
Our ethos remains unchanged with lived experience at our heart through our staff, Board of Trustees and volunteers. As a peer led organisation our members influence the direction of the charity and the services we provide. Our peer model encourages people to make positive changes in their lives and helps people to help themselves. We believe that our own lived experience can be a powerful tool to improve our lives.
Changes Bristol continues to develop it’s services based on the needs of our members and the local community.
Specialised groups like our Men’s Group, Women’s Group, LGBTQ+ Group and Women of Colour Group were all developed through member and community engagement and members and communities coming to us for help and support.
We have developed partnerships with local community groups and other organisations in the charity sector to diversify our services and reach a wider community base. We will continue to develop based on the needs of the community.
Barton Hill Settlement
41-43 Ducie Road