Bake-along with Jim

Online Thursday 14th January @10am.

Join Jim in Phoenix Futures virtual social club, where he will be discussing the five ways to wellbeing and walking you through a fantastic bread baking recipe.

Would you like to bake-along with Jim? Click here for the ingredients.

If you would like the link or support with the bake-along please email Jim;


Author: Laura Balerdi
Categories: News

Virtual Groups

Due to Essex being under Tier 4 restrictions we have ensured our virtual timetable has been reinstated after the Christmas break. If you would like to attend any groups please contact your Service Coordinator or email for the link.

Click here to view our virtual timetable.


Author: Laura Balerdi
Categories: News

Christmas Opening Hours

Christmas opening hours:

Christmas Eve – normal opening hours

Christmas day, Boxing day, Monday 28th Dec and New Year’s Day – closed

Tuesday 29th, Wednesday 30th Dec, New Year’s Eve and Monday 4th Jan – normal opening hours.

Please contact 01376 316126 to enquire opening/closures of outdoors groups. The virtual timetable will stop over Christmas and will recommence w/c 4th Jan.

Author: Laura Balerdi
Categories: News

Butterflies Parental Group

Butterflies parental group is now online every Wednesday from 1pm – 2pm. Here are the upcoming topics for the next sessions up until January;

25/11/2020 We will be joined by and Assistant Psychologist at Health in Mind to talk about the support services they can offer including  1:1 perinatal service, post birth recovery and open arms groups. The Open Arms group is for mothers and fathers who have experienced postnatal anxiety and/or depression. The Post Birth Recovery group is for mothers and fathers who have experienced a traumatic birth.

2/12/2020 Blow your own trumpet: When we are feeling low it is important to remind ourselves of all the positive qualities you have and things you can do.

9/12/2020 Happy scents: Discussion into how smells can boost mood. Many emotions are triggered by smell.

We could be more likely to remember something we smell over something we see, hear or touch. Being exposed to pleasant scents can improve mood.

16/12/2020 Support network: Identifying a support network. Where we can or do seek support from others. Identify gaps in support networks and how these can be filled. Identify which relationships offer which type of support.

23/12/2020 Christmas celebration: Join us in wishing you all a happy Christmas with a virtual quiz and bingo.

6/01/2021 Happy new year: Reintroduction to discuss wellbeing following the Christmas break.

13/01/2021 Butterflies service user forum: This session is designed for all to have a say about the group, provide any feedback and any suggestions.

If you’re a service user and are interested in attending the Butterflies online group please contact your service coordinator for more information.

Author: Laura Balerdi
Categories: News

Alcohol Awareness Week – Brian’s story

To close Alcohol Awareness Week we’ve been speaking to one of our volunteers and previous service user, Brian, who has kindly shared his story about his alcohol recovery.

We understand it can be hard for people to share their recovery with us and that is why we’re very grateful for any volunteers and service users who are comfortable sharing their story. Brian said, “If one person reads this and it helps then I don’t mind sharing.”

Before Recovery 

Everything got put to 1 side, alcohol took over my life. Out of my 42 yrs of marriage, I probably had Christmas dinner about 5 times as I was always too drunk to eat. I wasn’t spending any quality time with my family as all I thought about was alcohol, it made me selfish. 

Thinking about Recovery 

I knew if I didn’t stop drinking I was going to kill myself or someone else and 1 day it came close to myself killing someone else while I was driving and that’s when I knew enough was enough. I went to my doctor and admitted I had a drink problem. After I told the doctor I thought well what now who is going to want to help an alcoholic. 

Start of my Recovery 

I went along to a group meeting that was being run by the local alcohol treatment provider at the time to look at reducing my alcohol intake. I remember thinking I’m going to get nothing from this, I’m just going to be sitting there with other drunks but I persevered with it and gradually reduced my drinking and eventually went to detox then community rehab. In the mix of all this, I met Lisa from Essex SAMS now known as Futures in Mind and they put me onto one of their group activities at the Essex Wildlife Trust where I met others and built up peer support and completed 1 of the modules for the John Muir Conservation Award.

As I moved forward in my recovery I made the decision to become a volunteer so I could support others how I was supported. I completed the peer mentoring training with Futures in Mind and now support others to be able to move forward with their own recovery while always working on my own recovery. I always thought of myself as not being very academic but since being with Futures in Mind I have done numerous courses like Mental Health first aid, Level 2 Health and Social Care and numerous others. They put me in touch with other organisations like the ACL and I have completed numerous courses through them. I now realise how much I enjoy learning and have surprised myself at how much I did actually know. 

Since being in Recovery I’m now a completely different person and life is worth living. I get enjoyment from life rather than being in a comatose state all the time, living in the real world. 


Over the last couple of months, I have suffered a decline in my mental health where I didn’t want to get out of bed, didn’t dress and didn’t eat and I have to admit having a drink crossed my mind then I thought about it more and realised I had come too far in my life and recovery to go back to how I was when I was drinking, as I know I couldn’t just have one drink. I reached out for support from my family, GP and Futures in Mind and I am happy to say I’m feeling much better and starting to get back to myself.  

I just want to say to whoever is reading this Recovery is possible and worth it. 



Author: Laura Balerdi
Categories: News

Alcohol Awareness Week – Paul’s story

Back in September 2015, my life was to be changed for the better, as I realised alcohol was not the be-all and end-all to everything. I lost a lot of friends and acquittances along the way and couldn’t see further than the bottom of the bottle and where my next bottle was coming from. I ended up in hospital loads of times, was put in a bed if available or a chair to detox then got sent home at two or three in the morning with no other way than to get a taxi. It was at this point the hospital informed me I was running out of nine lives and fast, if I carried on it would be the end of me.

It was then I turned to Open Road for help who put me in touch with Synergy and engaged with a relapse prevention course once a week, this helped for a while but eventually, everyday things would trigger me off and I would turn back to drink until I realised they were there to help me. I then went onto a structured 12-week course, breaking the cycle and one to one counseling once I finished this course I moved onto a company called Foundation 66 (now known as, Futures in Mind) and enrolled into an Aspire programme three days a week based in Wickford (now known as the rehab centre SHARP). This course lasted three months and part of this course was to engage in a community project group decided on a recovery café which was to be the first in Essex and this is still going on today with Futures in Mind.

I then moved on to a mentoring course with Foundation 66 (Futures in Mind) this is a recognised course and I gained an NVQ Level 2, this course is to try to help and pass on knowledge to others in recovery, once I had completed this training I then took on service users (clients) on a one to one basics and support them, I also attend a drop-in service to sign post people in recovery to the various services Futures in Mind have an how we could help them I then ventured into groups and engaged with the Essex Wildlife Trust and conservation projects and then became a leading role member to the team within Futures in Mind to help them the way they helped me into recovery and staying clean.


– Paul

Author: Laura Balerdi
Categories: News

Why be a Recovery through Nature volunteer?

Would you like to become part of something special? Support people in recovery and be part of their success story.

Jim Sykes, our Recovery through Nature coordinator has written a few words below on why you should become a Recovery through Nature volunteer for Futures in Mind.


Hi, I’m Jim Sykes and I’m a committed Recovery Through Nature (RtN) coordinator!

I’m currently employed by Futures in Mind but prior to this, I was a volunteer within the same environment. So WHY Recovery through Nature?

Well for me, from the moment I first started I realised that I’d found an environment that made me feel welcome and part of something really special.

Secondly, (but not second place) I found myself in the privileged position of supporting some of the bravest people I have ever met. People dealing on a daily basis with life-changing episodes, who have a common aim to achieve or maintain recovery from addiction or complex mental health issues.

The environment for me to achieve this was (and still is) provided by Futures in Mind and the organisation that supports them Phoenix Futures. This organisation does something unique in my experience in that it promises its support to service users and keeps to those promises. The management will encourage anyone with an idea that will help service users to make it real.

I am involved with all of the RtN activities throughout Futures in Mind. Some of these I have initiated from scratch with the mentioned support. As part of this, I have seen many success stories develop as well as some disappointments, but I would add that some of these disappointments have led ultimately to success in the end. On the way I have been able to learn a lot about myself and that it isn’t all that difficult to take a bit of time to help someone who may be struggling.

A little bit of input at a critical moment can have life-changing results!

If you’re thinking of volunteering in this environment DON’T take my word for it, make contact and we will arrange an informal visit to one of our projects, or if you prefer, a walk around one of our sites. If you take the latter option, however, you miss out on the best bit – meeting our fantastic service users!

I hope to meet you soon – Jim.

If you know someone who would be perfect for this role, please share this blog post with them!

Click here to apply to become a Recovery through Nature volunteer.


Author: Laura Balerdi
Categories: News

Become a Futures in Mind volunteer

Become a volunteer

Are you looking to give your time to a meaningful and helpful service?

Do you want to be part of someone’s success in starting and continuing their recovery?

Would you like to learn more about yourself and take time out of your day to help others?

At Futures in Mind, we’re looking for volunteer support across Essex to ensure the effective and successful delivery of recovery to our service users. If you’re interested in conservation initiatives, becoming a volunteer driver, a student looking to volunteer or you would like to become one of our Befrienders, please follow the link below to apply for our available volunteer placements.

We look forward to working with you!

Apply to volunteer here.

Author: Laura Balerdi
Categories: News

World Mental Health Day

Tomorrow is World Mental Health Day and after lockdown, we think it is very important that we mark this important day. We understand some of you have been struggling with your mental health and your recovery more so, during these uncertain times. At Futures in Mind, we’ve been speaking to Paul, one of our service users, and he has shared his experience of what recovery means to him.

The things that are helping me to recover is having a good structure and routine where I’m taking part in activities and being with other people. Learning about myself and understanding why I get worked up about things and being able to deal with the issues in a safer healthier way. Having a good support group to talk too about the issues and what is going on. Staying away from negative people who don’t help or support me in my recovery. Also taking time out for myself to do the things I like such as fishing and boxing. I’ve realised taking time out is important for my recovery to be able to think about things so that my thoughts don’t overwhelm me – Paul.

We would also like to share a poem about recovery, written by Claire, another service user.

Recovery is getting out of bed,

Knowing everything you’ve done and said,

Knowing that it never kicked off the night before,

Where you had police banging on your door.

In and out of hospital and a police cell,

Kicking off and pressing that bell,

That bell to get the hell out,

Knowing you want recovery without a doubt.

That merry go round that keeps spinning around,

This is your life playing without a sound.

You tell yourself you want to change your ways,

But seconds and minutes turn into days.

Two Guardian Angels came into my life,

Rescued me and cut my life up with a knife,

Into pieces to get me out off a hell hole,

And turn my life around with a better soul.

Being with the RIGHT PEOPLE is the key to RECOVERY,

Whether that’s going back to college where you’re mixing socially.

YES, I still struggle with cravings,

BUT, I have to remember my savings.

And that means, being mentally stable and on my meds,

Not self-destructing and messing with my head.

Going into therapy and dealing with the root causes,

Which addresses your issues and that part of your life PAUSES.


We would love to hear from you on what recovery means to you and how Futures in Mind has helped you with your recovery during the COVID-19 pandemic, please send a few words over to


Author: Laura Balerdi
Categories: News

‘What wellbeing means to us’ Campaign

We are now starting a ‘What Wellbeing means to us’ campaign during lockdown.

Get involved and let us know what wellbeing means to you, by following these 3 simple steps:

– Print out the template or get creative and draw your own!

-Write down what wellbeing means to you

– Share your photo on your own social media using #FuturesInMind or send it to one of your Service Coordinators who will share it on our own page.

We’d love to spread this far and wide so please share what wellbeing means on social media and ask your friends to get involved.

Make sure you tag us in!

Wellbeing Means Campaign…(1)

Author: Laura Balerdi
Categories: News