A CHARD woman who has fought back from depression, isolation and mental health referrals is standing up as a success story of the town’s much-loved WATCH Project.

Natalie Masters, always had a plan in her life - she was always going to be a mechanic in the army and was always going to have children.

Then, after several rounds of IVF and a lost child in 2015, Natalie received the devastating news that she would not be able to have children.

Natalie said: “My life had been rewritten against my will. I just didn’t know what to do.

“Having had on-going problems with highs and lows since I was 17, I found depression really kicked in which resulted in me quitting my job in radiology in 2014.

“I was soon isolated, angry, friendless and jobless. I no longer wanted to live and attempted suicide.”

Having been admitted three times to Rowan Ward in Yeovil, Natalie’s psychiatrist recommended she visited the Watch Project.

The peer support group was set up by Julie Matthews in April 2007.

Natalie said: “It was the summer of 2016 when I started going to the project.

“At first I was really quiet and angry about everything.

“I tended to sit on my own listening to the iPod, but gradually I realised that a lot of the activities in the project interested me, and I started to become more involved.”

With the gradual process of restoring personal resilience and confidence well underway, it was suggested that Natalie tried Level 2 in Food Hygiene, which would be funded by Watch.

She excelled, enjoying the course and subsequently helping in the kitchen at the weekly project with volunteers Mike and Soo.

“My confidence returned, my feelings of self-worth returned, and I even applied for a job, only working 2.5hrs a day – but it was a start,” said Natalie.

“Working as a cleaner for Green Machine, my confidence continued to grow. I started to work additional hours daily and I loved the feeling it gave me.

“By January 2018, I became the account manager. I was cleaning, auditing and ended up performance managing sites right across South Somerset.”

The Watch project started the process of turning Natalie back into society, empowering her to realise she could manage her symptoms and find meaningful employment.

Natalie added: “Coming here helped me to rebuild my life. It helped me to find a safe place to meet people who had shared experiences.

“It made me realise that you don’t have to fit in. You can have alternative personality traits, but you can still find an employer who will support you – they are out there.”

The Watch project is a group of like-minded people whose aim is to provide other isolated individuals from Chard and the surrounding areas a safe place to grow by developing confidence, friendships and valuable skills.

Julie Matthews, the founder of the project, said: “Chard WATCH opens its doors to provide a safe, secure and positive fun environment

“ However, it is the individuals that use the space with peer friends to start to engage.

“If members can start to find their own true potential in their own way it can hopefully lead them to progress on their journey.

“It is so important that they lead the way. All of us here just walk alongside them.

“Natalie has remarkable skills and is an extremely generous person helping people along the way.

“We have just followed her. She didn’t say that last year she was employee of the year for green machine.

“We are very proud of her.”

Chard WATCH CIC (Working All Together in Chard) meets at Chard Rugby Club, Essex Close every Thursday from 11am to 4pm.

Members are required to pay a minimum donation of £1.50 per visit to support the running of the project. Lunch and refreshments are provided.