Meet Our Staff: Phil Sykes – Film and Media Officer, Bank Support Worker, and more!

Phil SykesMy name is Philip Sykes and I have been working for Creative Support since October 2006. Creative Support has given me years worth of varied roles and unforgettable experiences and has supported me to follow my own creative endeavours.

I  studied New Music and Media at UCLAN in Preston and graduated in 2003. I learnt many skills including music production and filmmaking. With some fellow students I put together a small arts’ collective that gradually took us to Manchester’s Greenroom where we put on successful events for many years. I also formed the theatre company Angel Club (north) with my friend Chris Gilligan. We have been running the company for around ten years and regularly create new shows.

While at university one of my closest friends became ill and was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. As his family were at the other end of the country I helped to support him through the highs and lows of a very traumatic period. I’d had little experience of mental health issues but the experience certainly made me passionate about some of the problems that people face every day.

I heard about Creative Support through a close friend who was working as a Support Worker at the time. She had been asked if she would like to start a music session for Breakthrough, our drop in and activities service in Manchester City Centre. As she was leaving to relocate to London she suggested that I speak to coordinator John Cox and apply to start the group myself. When I finally plucked up the courage to visit Breakthrough everyone was very welcoming but John informed me that another worker had already started the session! However he asked me if I would like to join session leader Jessica Mayo to help run the drama group instead. I happily agreed and six and half years later the drama group remains a fantastically creative and very popular group at Breakthrough.

Over the years the group have created many different shows and are still hungry for more opportunities to perform. I am very proud of everyone that has joined the group as the drama session is completely service user led and they have always written and performed their own work. I have been lucky enough to work with several co-workers who have all brought their own unique sets of skills to the job. I work within an environment that is consistently challenging and I feel very privileged to work within an amazing team that includes photographers, musicians and artists all with their own passion for their discipline.

A year or so into working at Breakthrough I felt that I needed to find some more hours and so my Manager at the time, Jo Brannigan, suggested I apply to be a Bank Support Worker. I finally went on the Bank List and found that I loved working with people in a one-to-one environment. I support people at a range of projects and have built some very close bonds with staff and service users alike.

I also spent two years running sessions at another of our projects, Warrington Day Centre. I helped to devise the dramatic short film Life Is What You Make It with their resident drama group.

Among my varied roles within the organisation you can also often find me serving food at Breakthrough’s Cyber Cafe, and most recently I have been producing films with Creative Support’s marketing team.

2012 was a truly great year for me as I got to be involved in exciting events like Pride and the Breakthrough Rocks! concert at Night and Day café. I enjoyed playing drums in the backing band for our service users at the gig and so I suppose you could say I’ve come full circle.

I am able to use a lot of the creative skills I’ve learnt professionally within a role that remains ever changing and always engaging.


By Phil Sykes, Film and Media Officer and Bank Support Worker


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