Meet the Staff


Hi everyone, I am Sarah and am proud to be Recovery Cymru’s Founder and Director. I am often asked about the story of RC and in coming months hope to share that with you all in more detail through film and stories. We evolved out of a single support group in Cardiff that started in 2008 and it’s amazing to think we are now celebrating our 10th anniversary year since we became ‘Recovery Cymru’. Wow! An amazing achievement made possible by everyone who has been involved, members, volunteers, staff, trustees, supporters, past and present. We are truly a community, a family, a group of people, helping ourselves and others to make changes for the better and sustain them.

Read More from Sarah

Although 2020 is a strange one for us all (!), it is still a time of reflection, celebration and planning for us. For me, personally and professionally, a ten-year reflection is especially exciting and emotional! We’re looking back and looking forward to think about who we are, what we do, where and why. Watch this space for more info.


Most importantly, for those of you struggling or supporting someone who is, know that our community is thriving with people who show, through their lived experience, recovery is possible, probable and fun. Come be a part of our unique community.


For now, that means getting involved in our ‘distance delivery’: open access support, 7 days per week, via the phone, videochat, text, email, zoom groups and social media. I have been immensely proud and impressed by how we have all collectively responded, so quickly, willingly and effectively to ensure our support continued to be available the very day we sadly had to close the centres. Our online and distance support is thriving. This does not mean we have forgotten those who cannot or are not comfortable accessing that way. As lockdown and social distancing ease, we will seek to continue this way of working, we well as re-open the centres when it is safe and possible to do so.


Thank you one and all for making our amazing community, what it is 😊


Hey everyone.  I’m Rachel. I first got involved with RC in 2011 volunteering and supporting the organisation with bits of admin and developing their newsletter.  I had been struggling with my confidence and self-esteem after a bout of depression and needed to get out and involved with something.  Having personal experience with the effects alcohol and substances can have on people’s lives; I found the concept of something which was peer led and using shared experience as something inspiring.  As I started volunteering and becoming more involved with the community, I saw the impact that this had on individuals lives and found it encouraging about how empowering it could be. 

Read More from Rachel

Although not in recovery from a substance, I started using the skills and tools to help me in my recovery from depression.  After a particularly tough past eighteen months personally, I really have used the mutual aid and peer support available and am very grateful to my RC family for their support.  I am now a stronger version of myself of who I am proud to be!!!

I have been employed with RC for seven years now and it still gives me a sense of purpose entering the centre each day and seeing people grow in their recovery!!  Even in the strange times we have been in as of late, I am in awe of our community still coming together and supporting one another through our virtual community.  Inspiration is what many people need in their lives and this community never stops inspiring me!!  


Hi, I am Jude. I am proud to have been part of RC since December 2017, first as administrator and now as volunteer coordinator.

Being part of RC is fantastic; I love the welcoming, nurturing, non-judgemental ‘family’ feel that each and every person coming through those doors experiences. It has been wonderful to witness peer support at its best; to watch hope spring from hopelessness and watch people emerge from the metaphorical shadows and begin to embrace life after addiction as part of a community that emphasises connection and quality of life. The RC team is true to its philosophy, proving to its members and supporters on a daily basis that recovery is not only achievable and sustainable, recovery is fun.


Hi my name is Claire. I have been volunteering in Recovery Cymru since 2012. As well as volunteering, I became employed as the Cardiff recovery centre cleaner and in 2014 I was also employed as a sessional worker. Volunteering and working at RC makes me feel not only part of the community but also part of a wider family. I feel comfortable and at ease with all members, volunteers and staff which I hope to continue in the future. I am currently on furlough due to Covid. My favourite thing about RC is being accepted for who I am, and not being judged   I used to volunteer with another substance misuse charity and I came to RC to volunteer after I met my now-husband Tim the Volunteer Coordinator. Recovery Cymru has given me stability in my life-after-substance misuse, a focus and perhaps most notably, a husband! THANKS RC! 


I am Laura Davies, current job title is Project Lead- no one can think of a better one yet. I began work for RC back on a temporary 10-month contract in October 2016, covering Sarah Vaile’s maternity leave. I really enjoyed my time with RC – the staff, volunteers and members. I was amazed that all the hype I got given in induction about the philosophy and ethos – turned out to be completely true – I was blown away. Well luckily Sarah got pregnant again and I was happy to ditch the job I had and came back to work here in October 2018 and I am still here!!

I could say I am not in recovery, but I gave up smoking a year ago and because of that I now have to go along to a local “Fat Club”!! so we all have one recovery journey or another to travel. Love my garden, love my dog, love my food – don’t have a GSOH – starting to sound like my dating profile

Loving all the resilience, ingenuity, friendship, passion and dedication I have seen since lock down –amazing.


I’m Andrew and I’m lucky enough to be a member of Recovery Cymru and the Footsteps Aftercare Worker in the Vale. I had sought out a recovery support group on arrival in Wales and was lucky enough to find I was living no more than about 500 yards from Recovery Cymru. Not just a support group but a community.  I became a member and then a volunteer. In time I realised I wanted to work for Recovery Cymru and eventually the right role became available and I was lucky enough to secure the position. I have been involved in recovery one way or another for 15 years with varying degrees of success!! At Recovery Cymru I found a place for those moments I needed refuge and those time of growth and development.

Read more from Andrew

I am lucky enough to have been very involved in the creative arts throughout my life and more so in recovery. I believe that they are an outlet for previously untapped potential and a way for people to find their authentic voices so often unheard or ignored through stigma and the misuse of alcohol or substances. I hope I bring a little of this to both the Footsteps Programme and RC.   

Through attending and equally facilitating groups as a peer I have found what works for me and discarded what doesn’t. Having a peer network comparable to a second family has been not only vital to me but a real gift of recovery.

I have always believed that a well maintained recovery is a  foundation on which a new life could be built and potential realised. As such through my work on the Community aspect of Footsteps, my being a member, and my engagement in my local community I strive to see not only strong links between RC and the wider community but it’s members to be vital and important members of those communities.  


Hi, I’m Tim Norval, I am an Engagement and Outreach worker at Recovery Cymru.

I have been involved with Recovery Cymru since I met Sarah Vaile, while she was still working on final stages of getting RC of the ground in 2009/10. At that time, I was in my second year of abstinent recovery and I was volunteering with ASFA as “Cardiff and Vale substance misuse service user representative”. In 2011, I went to see the then new RC centre on Llandaff Road. I was immediately taken by the relaxed atmosphere and Member led Peer support ideology. I soon signed up as a member and later volunteer. Though I did make sure everyone I knew that was in Recovery at that time got to hear about what I believed to be something new, fresh and welcoming. Through another role of Post Detox support group facilitator, we were able to build a strong and supportive relationship with the ADFER detox unit at Whitchurch hospital, which we still enjoy and value to this day.

Read More from Tim

In 2013, I became a member of staff, my role being Volunteer coordinator, followed by the role I am enjoying at the moment. Though RC may not have been my first taste of “Peer Support”, it has definitely shown me the importance and value of a strong peer led Community.

As of 28/08/2007 I will have abstinent from alcohol for 13 years. Something I never would have thought possible. Without the Peer support I have received and continue to receive, I very much doubt I would have got to where I am now.


For 10-15 years I had alcohol, substance misuse and mental health issues.  I had been referred to E-DAS who referred me to RC, where I received texts for a number of months before I actually decided to walk through the doors in the Barry Recovery Centre.

I started attending groups for about a year; going on trips and getting involved with activities provided by RC where I met some great inspirational and helpful people.  I then felt I wanted to get more involved within the RC Community and received volunteering training through Recovery Cymru and through the MILE programme.  I have helped man the centre and reception for almost two years now.  It’s given me a purpose and structure to my life that I desperately needed. Then an opportunity came to me in November 2015 to become an employee to keep the centre clean and organised for the staff and members and I have been here since. RC you are Top of the Pops!!!

david driscoll – Peer support worker

Hi I am David

I am happy to be joining the team as a peer support worker, having been a member of Recovery Cymru since June of 2017.

After struggling with a heroin addiction for over a decade, it was encouraging to find that the peer led, non judgemental community really embraced me and treated me as a person rather than an addict or ex addict.

I started volunteering later that year and have taken on various roles with the help, support and encouragement of the staff team, the volunteers and members alike. I am celebrating 4 years free from addiction and am looking forward to moving forward with my recovery giving back to the community, helping others and living a substance free fulfilling life.


rebecca cashman – social media & Communications officer

My name is Rebecca and I have joined the team at Recovery Cymru to help show off our fantastic work online, and the care given to our members. All social media goes through me – so it’s my job to keep you in the know of what is happening with our projects and also give you the latest information about recovery in the world today. 

Substance abuse was a challenge within my family. Therefore, I have seen first hand the impact it can have. If I can bring awareness within the community of the services available to them, then I will feel like we have accomplished something great. I’ll be helping Recovery Cymru confront stigmas, deliver influential services and show how we believe in our members.

TRUDIE MERRY  –  ADMINISTRATOR (on  maternity leave)

I’m in Recovery myself. I was lucky enough to find the help and support I needed to get through one of the most difficult but ultimately rewarding times of my life.

I realised I had learnt a lot through this process and whilst some of it may just be relevant to just me, some of it may help someone else. 

What drew me initially to Recovery Cymru was the whole idea of community, recovery can be a lonely journey at times and community and a sense of belonging is so important. 

The best thing about RC is the philosophy that recovery is not only possible, but probable and should be fun!

My sobriety means that I experience so much more, and I am so excited to be able to help others do the same!

I am privileged to be part of such a wonderful and supportive team and hope that, along with the rest of the team, I can help grow the RC community.

kaye cheeseman – Administrator (Maternity Cover)

Hi I’m Kaye, I was first with Recovery Cymru as Administrator for just over a year in November 2019 and I’ve come back to cover Trudie’s maternity leave as Administrator.  I loved my role in RC as I felt part of a ‘family’, not just part of a team, they are exactly what they say they are on the tin and that’s why I’m back even if only for a short time.  I have always enjoyed helping and supporting people, seeing them learn, grow in a non-judgemental way and RC has the amazing way of bringing out the best in people no matter your past or your background.

Gemma Brownhill – Community Engagement & Volunteer Worker

Hey All, I’m Gem and I am joining the Recovery Cymru team as a Community Engagement and Volunteer Worker.  My previous role was as a Well-being Coordinator in The Vale of Glamorgan.  This is where my passion started for empowering people to make lasting  meaningful change to their lives and enabling them to become the best version of themselves.

Following the end of that project, I’m not embarrassed to say I felt lost and struggled to find another role that invoked the same passion.  Luckily, I found Recovery Cymru were hiring .  Having had experience working with the team in my previous role, I was aware  of the amazing results that come from your community.  It feels like the perfect transition as your values are so close to the ones I try to follow.  I’m so excited to work with the team and a community that embraces peer led practice, shared experiences and that clearly gains strength from each other.

I currently enjoy walking coastal paths, beaches (even though I’m a Ginge) and finding new ways of becoming a better me.

lilla ver – vac project coordinator

Hi All! My name is Lilla and I joined Recovery Cymru as part of the Voices Action Change project.

I believe that everyone has expertise to bring and I am excited to get as many of you as possible involved in the design and delivery of services.

I have experienced the impact that substance misuse can have through the journeys of loved ones, and I find Recovery Cymru’s community really inspiring. My mission for the next year is to help people see how much value they can bring and empower them to write the next chapter.

Keely Jones – Peer Worker

Hi all. I’m Keely and I’m really proud to be joining Recovery Cymru as a Peer Worker. As someone with experience of alcohol misuse throughout their 20s, I know just how lonely and isolating it can feel. A pivotal point in my own recovery was finding a sober community and coming to the realisation that I needn’t feel lonely at all. Listening to others and finally feeling confident enough to share my own personal experiences helped me so much and I can’t wait to help provide a safe, trusted space for people to do just this, as well as have a bit of fun of course! What drew me to Recovery Cymru was their ethos that anyone can recover and the idea of joining their close knit ‘Recovery Cymru family’. I really can’t wait to get started and to help others feel empowered and excited about life on their recovery journey.