Sylvia Thompson | The Irish Times

The colourful handcrafted sign across the large front window of a shop in the heart of Rathmines, Dublin 6, is a clear shout-out that Gateway is open to all. Together with Áras Folláin in Nenagh, Co Tipperary, this mental health project is a pioneer in the recovery-oriented approach to mental illness, where people with lived experience become advocates for others on their shared journey to wellness.

A group of 10 Gateway members volunteer to speak to The Irish Times about why they come here. Richard Moloney has been a member of Gateway for many years. “I have a sense of belonging here. It’s a holistic space because it takes care of all the elements: there are practical courses, creative courses and relaxation/meditation classes. It’s a place to regain myself and get a sense of hope and responsibility,” he says.

Cathy Bennett says the fact that everyone has had some kind of mental health difficulty is a positive thing. “I thought my working life was over, but here I meet people who have similar experiences to me and it will help me go back into the working world again. I now feel that the negative experience of being unwell might be of use to me moving forward.”

See Full story in the Irish Times with Sylvia Thompson