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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 regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

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 63% of housing clients moved on successfully to live more independently in 2017/18.

We work alongside our clients in whatever emotional state they find themselves; working with them at their pace showing them respect at all times, gently acknowledging the possibilities for change. Recovery, peer support, coproduction and being psychologically informed are the four main ways in which we approach our work.


Recovery is personal and unique to everyone. When we talk about recovery, we mean working in a way which helps people to build resilience, notice triggers, share expertise, mend relationships, and find a way through. Sometimes a person’s recovery is shaped by the symptoms of their mental health problems. At other times it might be affected by issues such as housing, employment or debt. In short, we help people find the hope and courage to make positive changes in their lives. Learn more about our housing and support services.

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. In 2009 we 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 clients (past and present) in the way we shape and deliver our services. Coproduction is the process of involving clients ensuring they are treated equally, that they are valued for their lived experience and that together we create services which offer people choice and control.


We take a psychological approach to our work, actively taking time to learn from what we do and listening to clients’ ideas. By continually reviewing our approach, we ensure we remain at the forefront of good practice.

Our social media campaigns

At Second Step we encourage people who use our services to share their ideas and thoughts about what keeps them well and 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.

Our impact

We regularly capture and share examples of good practice and client stories 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.
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