WHEN former deputy headteacher Anna Cautley suffered a breakdown, staff at Oxfordshire mental health charity Restore were there to pick up the pieces.
The mum-of-three from Banbury hit a low point in 2007 and lost her job as a result. But after getting support from the Banbury branch of Restore, she became a volunteer and now works at the charity’s base in Manzil Way off Cowley Road in Oxford.
The 47-year-old is thanking Restore for helping her to recover, as it celebrates its 35th anniversary this month.
Today, thousands of people are expected at the Elder Stubbs Festival at Rymers Lane allotments in Cowley, which helps raise funds for the charity.
Mrs Cautley said: “I lost everything, including my job as a lower school deputy head after I became ill. I lost friends who didn’t know how to handle it.
“I was helped to build things up again with the help of Restore. I became a volunteer and then a year ago the opportunity of a job at Restore came up and I got it.
“ It has been a four-year journey and now it is a case of managing my condition.
“Restore helped me to realise it is not the end. You can build something positive.”
As part of her job, Mrs Cautley sometimes serves cakes to visitors at the Manzil Way café.
She added: “People with mental health problems come to the café because they know it’s a safe place where they will be accepted.”
Founded by Lord Young of Dartington, and local psychiatrist Dr Peter Agulnik in 1977, the charity has centres in Oxford, Didcot and Banbury.
Lewis Buy, 33, from Chipping Norton, suffers depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
He started using Restore’s Oxford service at the end of March after leaving Littlemore Hospital.
The former head chef said: “Restore has been vital in rebuilding my confidence.
“The staff empathise with you as many of them have experienced mental health problems themselves, but that isn’t to say they feel sorry for you.”
Restore spokesman Gemma Humphrey said: “Our members work in teams developing skills and confidence through activities such as gardening, woodwork, crafts, cooking and customer service.
“The group sells the goods and plants it produces and runs our café, shops and a vegetable delivery business.
“We know the work we do has enabled people to stay out of hospital, develop skills and confidence, secure employment and increase their involvement in the community.”
Last year, Restore worked with 972 people across Oxfordshire and supported 115 people to start paid or voluntary work.
Restore was named charity of the year at the Oxfordshire Volunteer and Charity Awards in October.
As part of the anniversary celebrations, an autumn fair is being held at the Restore centre in Sandringham Road, Didcot, on Saturday, September 8, from 11.30am to 4.30pm.