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About us

Who we are

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 the time didn’t give people the support they needed once out of hospital. So the group decided to set up a housing association to help this group of people. 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.

In 2017 we launched our new brand which included a new logo and strapline; putting mental health first. This work clarified that we are a mental health charity registered under the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014.

What we do

Our work to support people with mental health problems in their homes is still at the centre of what we do. Working with our partners in Bristol, we’re proud that 65% of housing clients moved on successfully to live more independently in 2018/19.

We work alongside our clients in whatever emotional state they're in; working with them at their pace showing them respect at all times, gently acknowledging the possibilities for change. Being trauma-informed, recovery, peer support and coproduction are the four main ways in which we approach our work.

Our services can be found in Bath and North East Somerset, BristolNorth SomersetSouth Gloucestershire and Somerset.

Psychological, adversity and trauma informed

We acknowledge the context of trauma and adversity and seek to understand how these experiences affect people's lives. We want to know what has happened to people and what help they feel they need. In short, we prioritise this psychological understanding and trauma informed approach in everything we do.


Recovery is personal and unique to everyone. When we talk about recovery, we mean working in a way which helps people build resilience, notice triggers, share expertise, mend relationships, and find a way through.

A person’s recovery is shaped by the things that happen in life, what they need from others to feel safe and how the communities in which they live and the services they use help them. In short, we help build safe and trusting relationships with people.

Peer support

Our staff are uniquely placed to offer empathy and encouragement to clients because many have used mental health and other support services in the past. Since 2009 we have employed peer support staff specifically to share their mental health experiences with clients. The introduction of peer support workers was pioneering. It set us apart and ensured a unique approach to support work which has been adopted by many more organisations.


We aim to involve the people who use our services (past and present) to help shape the way we deliver them. Coproduction is the process of involving clients equally in this process ensuring that they are valued for their lived experience. In this way we believe we can create services which offer people both choice and control.

Our social media campaigns

We encourage people who use our services to share their ideas and thoughts about how they cope with life's difficulties. From time to time we turn this work into social media campaigns, so we can share these ideas more widely.  You can follow our campaigns on Instagram

Our impact

We regularly capture and share client stories and examples of good practice to illustrate the impact we make to people’s lives. Every year we publish an impact report which brings these stories together.

What's next?

The early grit and determination to empower our clients and our promise to put the needs of every person we work with at the heart of their support, continues to shape the way we work.

We believe our approach is unique and we’re keen to share our knowledge and drive change in the way people with mental health problems and complex needs are supported locally, regionally and nationally. That’s why we plan to:

  • Expand our peer support programme of employing people with their own experience of mental health service
  • Stay at the forefront of new ideas to improve people’s mental health and tackle homelessness
  • Develop more professional partnerships so we can continue to offer successful support to even more vulnerable people
  • Establish cross organisational awareness of trauma and adversity leading to an understanding of the complex ways people survive through such experiences
  • Develop trauma sensitive practice and skills in managing safe relationships across the system, as the vehicle through which change happens
  • Develop our organisational responsiveness to trauma and adversity, by integrating this knowledge within the language, culture, settings, policies, procedures and practice across the organisation (not just service delivery).
At Second Step we believe in recovery
For us, that means believing in hope, courage and change
Recovery becomes a reality when we're confident, courageous and inspire hope in one another
Once we have hope and courage, change can happen
And we can achieve great things