Meet the Staff
SARAH VAILE – FOUNDER AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF RECOVERY CYMRU
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 😊
ANDREW SIMS – CARDIFF THROUGH CARE & AFTERCARE WORKER
Hi I’m Andrew, I am the Footsteps Community and Aftercare worker. I help to deliver the Footsteps to Recovery programme with our friends and colleagues at POBL. I also run groups and offer 1-2-1 support to people who are going through structured aftercare. I joined RC as a member in 2012 after a detox at Whitchurch hospital. With the encouragement of my peers & friends in recovery I soon started volunteering and then started working part time at RC as administrator, then went full time after a year.
Read More from Andrew
Since I joined RC my life has changed a million times for the better – it’s amazing what a difference it makes to feel like you’re part of something positive. I think the things I’ve been most amazed by is that RC’s vision, values and philosophy are really tangible things that I can see working their way through my life and recovery like ‘golden threads’. I never knew Recovery could be fun but it makes so much sense! RC is about supporting its members to live their best life – one unencumbered by regret and guilt. Being present, with gratitude, in what ever this moments looks like – whatever you chose & made it to be; and looking forward with joy and anticipation to achieving (with support) the things that matter most to you. I learned that, for me at least, it was never about “stopping” something or “giving something up” it had to be about what I chose to take up that would make the difference. Recognising that I had choice in all things, and the need to start choosing well for me, would mean that I was better able to live well for myself and those around me.
RACHEL BAYER – FINANCE, HR & OPERATIONAL COORDINATOR
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!!
SUSIE BOXALL – COMMUNITY COORDINATOR
My name is Susie Boxall and I am the programme development worker at RC. I am in recovery myself from alcohol misuse and RC has been and continues to be a fundamentally important part of my recovery. I joined as a member in 2010 when my life felt like it was spiralling out of control, I was receiving counselling which was very helpful but I was not maintaining the positive changes I was making. My counsellor suggested I attend the Tuesday evening support group at RC. I was extremely nervous but knew it was something I needed to do. Following my first group I felt empowered and felt I had a choice to make rather than being told you have to stop drinking. Being part of a group where others were experiencing similar struggles to myself enabled me to be honest and there was no judgement the peer led approach has really and continues to work for me.
Read More from Susie
I continued to attend the support group and then started volunteering at RC and I facilitated the self- help group on a Wednesday morning. Volunteering really helped rebuild my confidence and helping others to develop coping strategies to manage their recovery has helped and continues to help me in my recovery. In July 2014 I was then successful in securing the post of programme development worker and have been working there ever since.
RC is a truly unique organisation to be a part of and I am proud to be a member first and foremost. I see members of our community feeling empowered to make and maintain positive changes. As a staff team we are open and honest with each other because not only are we staff members many of us are also in recovery which gives us unique insight into what is going on for ourselves and each other. Working at RC has given me the freedom to develop resources, write training courses and work with our amazing volunteers to ensure that RC is and continues to be the best that it can be. I am doing well in my recovery but we still have to deal with the ups and downs of life and being in recovery is challenging and for me requires a daily commitment but my life now is the best it has ever been and I feel so grateful that I did walk through the doors of RC in 2010!
JUDE ENTICOTT – VOLUNTEER COORDINATOR
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.
CLAIRE NORVAL- DOMESTIC GODDESS
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!
LAURA DAVIES – PROJECT LEAD
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.
ANDREW MCCUTCHION- VALE THROUGHCARE & AFTERCARE WORKER
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.
TIM NORVAL – F2R ENGAGEMENT & OUTREACH WORKER
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.
ANTHONY P – DOMESTIC GOD
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!!!
maram al-khalaileh – Peer support worker
Hi. My name is Maram and I first started attending Recovery Cymru in January 2017. First as a member, then volunteer and now as a staff member. Recovery Cymru was instrumental in helping me to achieve long term, stable recovery. It is a real ‘community’ where everybody helps each other. I have made some great friends there who are like family to me and have helped me get to where I am in my life today. For my role as peer worker I will be supporting people to start or maintain their own recovery. Something which I am very passionate about.
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 …… taking 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.
KAYE CHEESEMAN – ADMINISTRATOR
TRUDIE MERRY – ADMINISTRATOR
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.