RETURNING to work can be a frightening experience for people recovering from mental health conditions.

But two key organisations in Swindon help them make a smoother transition while boosting their confidence.

Phoenix and Leaves offer people with mental health problems a safe place to work as well as operating successful businesses.

They are both based in the Cheney Manor industrial estate but provide very different commercial services.

Leaves is in the gardening business while Phoenix offers mailing services.

Phoenix even has customers in France, Switzerland and the US.

"Our organisation is all about giving employees routine and structure to provide well being and build their confidence," said manager Brian Tyler.

"The work we do is absolutely essential. Without Phoenix and other organisations like ours there would be a lot of people who would not know where to go and would not get the training and support they need.

"We are a vital part of the community."

Employees also receive training and some have completed NVQ Level 2 courses in numeracy, literacy and computer skills through Swindon College.

Mr Tyler used to work as a director in a local fulfilment firm before he retired.

His knowledge of the industry enabled him to bag international clients when he joined Phoenix.

He said that financial support from the Primary Care Trust was appreciated but also encourages contributions from businesses.

Phoenix operations controller Phil Smith said having a job is important for members' self-respect.

"It is good for them to have a job and they are working for commercial customers," he said.

Leaves, which is a workers co-operative, also operates a healthy business.

It earns 68 per cent of its total funding with the rest coming from the PCT and other sources.

Leaves, which has about 20 workers, provides gardening for the elderly, woodland conservation and recycling for Swindon Commercial Services.

Co-ordinator Bob Astbury said: "We want to empower people and provide advice and practical support.

"People are hoping to move through us and get a job in the open market.

"Everybody in their lifetime at some point will be helped out by someone to keep them on an even keel."