About Us

In the mid-1980s, a passionate group of social workers and community psychiatric nurses recognised that many people were in hospital not just because of their mental health problems, but because they had nowhere else to go.

Housing initiatives at that time didn’t give people the mental health and practical support they needed once out of hospital. The group decided to set up a housing association where the emotional and mental wellbeing of each individual was central.

The founders found landlords with available properties to rent, and persuaded people to volunteer their time for free. In 1987, we officially became Second Step, named in recognition of providing a step away from hospital, and one towards recovery and the hope of a better future.

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We offer a rounded approach to the problem of homelessness.

Today we’re more than a specialist housing provider, we’re one of the leading mental health charities in the South West, working hand-in-hand with a network of recognised experts and partners including the NHS and local authorities to put mental health first. 

  • We offer practical help and also emotional support, with counselling and cutting-edge therapies tailored to each individual and their recovery.
  • Our experience of working with Bristol’s significant population of rough sleepers has helped us to support people with multiple needs including drug or alcohol addiction.
  • We also offer support services for those whose mental health problems have left them isolated and alone in their own communities.

Since 2009, our pioneering decision to employ peer support workers – paid because of their personal experience of mental health problems – has set us apart. Our peer work approach has been adopted by many more organisations. It means we’re well placed to offer real understanding, making the hope of a better future a reality for the hundreds of people with whom we work.

What’s next?

That early grit and determination to make a difference and the promise to truly listen to the needs of individuals continues to shape our future.

We understand that our learning is of national significance and can lead to groundbreaking improvements in what we do. We want to share our knowledge and drive change in the treatment of mental health problems and multiple needs nationwide. We promise to continue putting mental health first by:

  • Expanding our peer support programme of employing people with their own experience of mental health services
  • Staying at the forefront of mental health innovation
  • Developing more professional partnerships so we can continue to offer innovative support to even more vulnerable people.