Meet the Staff
SARAH VAILE – FOUNDER AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF RECOVERY CYMRU
RACHEL BAYER – FINANCE & head of operations
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!!
JUDE ENTICOTT – peer Team Leader
Hi, I am Jude. I am proud to have been part of RC since December 2017, first as administrator. I have recently now transitioned from Volunteer Coordinator into being our Team Leader!
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 – Funding & Strategic Support
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 some time ago, 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- peer recovery & AFTERCARE WORKER
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 – Peer Navigator
I have been involved with Recovery Cymru since I met Sarah Vaile, while she was still working on the final stages of getting RC off 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!!!
david driscoll – Peer support worker
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’. Therefore, I became a member of Recovery Cymru in 2017.
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 – Recovery Cymru 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 use 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 support 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 – Peer Recovery and Aftercare Worker
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. As the administrator for Recovery Cymru, I was able to become a part of that community while doing something I was comfortable with (I do love a spreadsheet!).
I have recently come back from Maternity leave and have now taken the leap (the opportunity!) to become part of the Peer Recovery and Aftercare team. It has been a huge journey for me to get here, through my own recovery, studying and joining the community but I am so proud to now be able to support others on their journeys.
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 and embed peer support and the lived experience model throughout services in Cardiff and The Vale (and who knows – maybe one day, THE WORLD!!!!!
Gemma Brownhill – Community Connections Coordinator
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.
Dave Parker – VAC Programme & Engagement Coordinator
I have been a volunteer and service user for about two years and have enjoyed spending time with other people in recovery in many settings. These experiences have led to shared ideas and learning from one another.
My professional background is in teaching and education. My hobbies are playing bass guitar in a band, long walks in nature with my wife and doggy, going out for meals with my family and watching box sets on TV with hot chocolate!
I have struggled with addiction for many years, which all came to a head in 2017 when I tried and failed (dismally) to complete the Dry January Challenge. I was raising money for a cancer charity in memory of my dad, who had recently passed away. This was the wake-up call that began me exploring every possible avenue to moderate my behaviour. Finally, I had to accept that abstinence was my inevitable path. Although I originally took to this like a ‘vet-bound dog’, I have learned (mainly through listening to the experiences of others and witnessing them turning their lives around) that life can be thoroughly enjoyed and lived to the full, providing you stay connected and have faith. I truly believe that everyone’s recovery is unique, and it will be a privilege for me to be able to support them throughout their journey.
Jo Germon – peer recovery and aftercare worker
After being becoming a member in 2018, a big part of my recovery journey has been empowering myself through developing new skills and being connected with the RC recovery community.
As part of my development, I now continue to volunteer and run our Women’s Group, but I also contribute as a Peer Recovery and Aftercare Worker.
Having that connection with everyone means I now get to help others feel empowered in their journeys and I am proud to bring hope to others!
kelvin mccann – Peer Recovery and Aftercare Worker
I have over fifteen years of lived experience with substance use, homelessness and hostels, mental health services and the criminal justice system. Thanks to the support of many, including Recovery Cymru, I am now nearly three years into my recovery journey. So I am living proof that it can be done!
I look forward to getting to know everyone and being part of our collective journeys!
Emma Greenhill – Peer Team administrator
I feel so privileged to have this role and be part of such an incredible and vitally important organisation. I’m in recovery from several mental health issues that led to unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as the habitual use of substances to get me through the day and night.
I had quite the surprise to discover at the age of 34 that I am and have always been autistic! This put all of my struggles into context and gave me the self-awareness to tackle my struggles head on and have a healthy relationship with myself and the rest of the world. My recovery would not have been so successful without the knowledge, support, and practical advice from many different peer support groups.
To be able to make a living supporting those directly working the peer support process is a dream come true.
CEri john – Community connections coordinator
I previously worked for the NHS in community and mental health settings, and before that, I worked mainly in administration, though I once did a year-long stint as a cook in a retreat centre on a remote Scottish island. Over the past six months or so, I’ve been volunteering for Age Cymru and local wellbeing charities. In terms of interests, I love anything to do with nature and art, and I’m also an advocate of giving new and different things a go!
My prior work in the field of occupational therapy was about supporting people in a person-centred way to be able to do the things that matter to them so they could achieve the best quality of life possible. Having experienced some anxiety and depression myself, I’m passionate about well-being and the many different ways we can boost it.
I love the empowering, inclusive, and hope-filled ethos of Recovery Cymru. I’m a huge believer in the power of community and engaging in it as a way of increasing our sense of connection, belonging, and purpose – which is something Recovery Cymru embodies. I’m thrilled to be joining the team and using my skills and experience to make a positive contribution. I’m also looking forward to learning a lot from the community.
Kat Edgar – Recovery Community Peer Worker
Hi, my name is Kat. I have worked within the charity retail sector for over 16 years. I’ve always felt a sense of pride in helping people and fundraising for different causes. My last employment within this field was with Cancer Research UK, where I worked as a shop manager in the Canton shop for 8 years. It was an extremely difficult decision to leave my “charity” family, but as we all know, life can take us on a different path.
I have been in recovery since September 2022. I hit an all-time low and thought, “enough is enough.” I have been alcohol dependent for over a decade and kept this hidden from friends, family, and everyone I met. Finally, I sought help from CAVDAS, who then introduced me to Recovery Cymru, and I will be forever grateful for the support I’ve received so far.
Even though I’m still at the beginning of my recovery, I have never felt so focused and alive without alcohol. It feels amazing and has ignited a new passion in me to inspire people to experience the same freedom. I want to encourage and support others on their journey towards sobriety.
rhys gudgeon – Cavdas recovery and aftercare worker
I’ve been a member of Recovery Cymru since 2018 when I started my recovery journey. My working experience involves mental health nursing within the NHS for 7 years, as well as working through an agency for 2 years after, before deciding to try something new, and most importantly in a role that I feel so passionate about.
Suffice to say, I don’t think I’d be in this position today if it wasn’t for the support and empowerment I have received (and continue to receive!) through the peer team. I had tried other means of support in getting through my substance use problem, but I found that I wasn’t getting the support that worked for me; this is when my GP told me about what peer support could potentially offer me.
The peer community emphasises the importance of connection with others and how beneficial and powerful it can be in aiding recovery. I believe that everyone is capable of change if they’re given the right tools to help them find themselves again after struggling with substances and subsequently, their mental health.
I want others to know that they’re not alone in their journey, and as part of CAVDAS we’re all here to support and look out for one another as I know first-hand how truly difficult it can be to reach out for help when you feel like your life is spiralling out of control due to the impact of substances. Peer support is why I’m here today telling you my story and why I wanted to work for an organisation I feel so passionately about!