FROM the beginning of next month, Supporting Wellbeing and Developing Stability will be known as Ipsum.

The word is Latin for ‘self’, and the change is partly intended to relieve the confusion of people who assume SWADS is still Swindon and Wiltshire Alcohol and Drugs Service.

That name changed in 2015, not long after Julie Mattinson became director. The alcohol and drug roles had been assumed by other organisations, leaving SWADS to focus on more general wellbeing.

Julie said: “Even though we changed direction in ’15, it’s really hard for people to let go of the fact that we were a drugs and alcohol service.

“We thought long and hard and decided we needed to change that, so we took feedback from some of the stakeholders and service users. They said it would be good to make a change.”

There are as many reasons for needing SWADS as there are people who need SWADS.

“On our books at the minute we have 620 people.

“Somebody could come through the door just because they’re lonely and find themselves cut off for lots of different reasons. They could come because they have low mood and are depressed, but not diagnosed clinically.

“We’ve got people here with diabetes which is affecting their lives, and they want to get themselves back to a good place because they’re emotionally eating and it’s not good for their diabetes.

“We’ve got people who have schizophrenic tendencies, we’ve got people who have learning difficulties but who can express themselves in the art group.”

SWADS also works with young people, and has forged links with St Luke’s School, whose pupils have social, emotional and mental health issues.

Clients are welcome to use a broad array of services and facilities. They can learn an instrument, rekindle an interest in playing, record their music, learn production skills, create art, write poetry and stories, set their words to music or set music to their words.

One group of musicians, Mature Mondays, is made up of people aged from their 50s to their 80s, and are looking forward to playing with Mitch Winehouse.

There is a radio group which broadcasts monthly on Swindon 105.5.

Users can take part in meditation classes if they wish, or have counselling.

SWADS also offers training courses, employee wellbeing packages and corporate team building sessions

Julie, 53, is originally from Cirencester, where her father was an engineer and her mother a nurse.

She trained as a counsellor – a long-held career ambition – in her early thirties, having previously worked as a hair stylist.

Many years of work for various organisations followed, including about a dozen specialising in addiction.

She became director of SWADS in September of 2015 following the retirement of her predecessor.

Julie leads four staff and a group of volunteers – and has to negotiate the rocky financial road many small charities find themselves on. The organisation recently sold a property next door to its Milton Road headquarters.

When the primary focus of SWADS was taken away from addiction, Julie realised that many of its services were readily transferable into helping people with general issues around wellbeing.

“I thought, ‘Okay, we’ve still got the music and art because that belongs to SWADS – that’s nothing to do with the drug and alcohol service, and we’ve still got the counselling, albeit in a smaller capacity.’

“I thought, “What we need to do is rebuild this.’ Taking the knowledge I had from working in addiction, I thought our music and art could be used in a far more beneficial way, and not just for those with addictions, so we needed to change direction.

“That was the basis of it. That’s where I started. I used what I had, basically.

“It’s grown and developed.

“People responded to it, and the more people that got referred to us, the more you could see people’s mental health changing. They were becoming calmer, they were finding ways of being creative.”

A doctor recently described SWADS as better than an antidepressant. Julie has seen many proofs of the charity’s worth.

There is the person, for example, who chanced on art after coming to SWADS and has since been invited to study at a world-renowned institution.

“I suppose our philosophy is that anybody can walk through our door. We’ll meet you where you’re at, we’ll create a safe space for you and we’ll listen to what it is that you actually need.

“It’s acceptance. You don’t have to come in and validate why you’ve walked through the door.”

SWADS welcomes inquiries from anybody who believes they need its services – or who believes they can help the organisation.

Its website is