About Recovery College

Sussex Recovery College Mission Statement:

Inspiring hope and empowering people to take control of their own recovery through learning. To combine personal (lived) and professional experience to develop and deliver a range of courses. Provide a learning journey to wellbeing.

About Sussex Recovery College

Sussex Recovery College offers educational courses about mental health and recovery which are designed to increase your knowledge and skills and promote self-management. This may help you take control and become an expert in your own wellbeing and recovery and get on with your life despite mental health challenges.

Whether you work with people with mental health challenges, use mental health services or care for someone who does, we know that learning more about self-management and recovery will enable you to make the most of your strengths, talents and resources and help you to achieve whatever it is you want in your life or work.

‘This is the best thing to happen in mental health. It puts a person’s recovery back in the service user’s control. Recovery College can offer a new strand to what is available on mental health to assist people with hope, choice and learning opportunities to develop self-help and self-management skills and explore vocational and personal development’ (Hastings Peer Trainer)


The College combines the strengths of two sets of expertise: the lived expertise of peer trainers with personal experience of mental health challenges or of carer trainers who have a teaching qualification and the experience of mental health professionals. As well as peer trainers bringing their lived expertise, their presence as role models can inspire hope and offer a map of possible recovery journeys. Co-production and partnership are at the heart of the Recovery College.

The College is open to people with mental health challenges, their relatives, friends and carers and to staff from Sussex Partnership, Southdown, Mind, Together and other partner agencies. We encourage all staff working in mental health to register with the college and enrol on courses. By this range of students learning together, we hope that it also helps break down ‘us and them’ barriers and reduces stigma.

The College is an educational college and uses the same systems as other educational establishments. People who register with the college are known as students. Students choose what courses they want to go on from a prospectus. After registering and choosing what courses you want to go to you will be offered a meeting with a trainer to look at what you want to get out of the courses and what support you may need in order to attend.

How Recovery Colleges Work

• Prospectus – potential students obtain a prospectus and choose what courses they want to attend
• Enrolment or registration- you can fill in the registration form online or download or pick up a prospectus and send a paper copy by post.
• Booking courses – you can look at the prospectus and request to book a place on the course of your choice by using the online course booking system or by applying by paper. If you wish, you can meet with one of the trainers and get guidance about choosing a course at one of the open days or by telephone.
• Individual Learning Plans – all students are offered an appointment to meet with one of the trainers to help them think about their personal goals in attending the college, to review the course learning outcomes and to consider learning support needs and reasonable adjustments (e.g. you may want larger print handouts, a text reminder that your course is starting or a buddy to help you get to class.)
• Course attendance
• Certificate of success –all students who complete a course are invited to a graduation ceremony and are awarded certificates of achievement. Some courses also offer academic credits.



All courses meet the following criteria:

1. Co-production and co-facilitation. All courses are:
- co-produced by professionals and experts by experience / peer trainers
- co-delivered or co-facilitated
2. For everyone – Courses are open to:
- people with mental health challenges
- relatives, friends and carers of people with mental health challenges
- staff from mental health service providers and partner agencies
(NB: Some Courses may be geared more to one group especially to promote engagement of marginalised groups)
3. About mental health and recovery
4. Educational approach
5. Accessible by choice

Please see the prospectus for further information about the courses we currently offer 

Interested in developing and delivering a training course at the Recovery College?
If you are please complete this form and submit to the college. We will be meeting at the beginning of each term to consider new courses for the following one.
Please also contact us if you are a student or potential student and would like to see us offering new courses.


The Sussex Recovery College first opened as two pilots in 2013. 

Brighton and Hove pilot was led by Brighton and Hove Mind and Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. The Hastings and Rother pilot was led by Activ8 (Hastings and Rother Mind) and Sussex Partnership. Working closely and enthusiastically together provided the backdrop for the college to begin to grow. 

The original cohort of Brighton and Hove Mind Peer Trainers in 2013

Hastings and Rother team 2013


Hastings and Rother campus was developed by Activ8 (Hastings Mind) and Sussex Partnership 

The first Prospectus covers




Over the year we had copious meetings whilst we prepared the prospectuses and the website. Lots of teething problems slowly began to iron out and the Recovery College began to take shape. The most important element, - the co-produced courses went ahead. 


Getting the elements of the website agreed


Comments on the process of developing Sussex Recovery College.

Two members of staff whose primary role was to provide clinical expertise said:
‘brilliant, exciting, fun, challenging, difficult to juggle everything at times whilst managing my own wellbeing’ and;

‘I have really enjoyed the experience and learned a lot from everyone. It’s the best thing I have done in ages. I also find it challenging - it has made me reflect more on my own experience of mental distress, and as a relative of people with serious mental health challenges’

a Peer trainer who primarily brought lived expertise and teaching expertise:

‘Wonderful, great. It has been a great experience to be fully involved as a service user, to have my ideas and views taken seriously, to feel part of a team, shaping the future of Recovery College in our area. I have felt my self-esteem and confidence grow as I am involved. I am learning how to contribute in a meeting (which means sometimes curtailing my enthusiasm and excitement). I have felt treated with respect and socially included... I really hope that other people who have a mental illness can feel as enthusiastic and excited about Recovery College as I do – that there is hope, choice and empowerment’



The Recovery College is administered centrally by support staff based at the Sussex Partnership Education and Training department at Aldrington House in Hove.

Sussex Recovery College operates out of a number of campuses:

Hastings and Rother Recovery College Campus

The Hastings and Rother campus is based at Cavendish House and courses are held there, at Together buildings in Hastings and Bexhill and at Woodlands inpatient unit. Courses are also held in Battle and Rye.

The campus was developed by Activ8 (Hastings Mind) and Sussex Partnership and is currently led by Sussex Partnership. Other partners who run courses or are otherwise involved include: Southdown Housing, Together, Albion in the Community, Alzheimer’s Society, Creative Bexhill, ICE, Bexhill College and Sussex Coast College.


WEL Recovery College campus (Wealden Eastbourne and Lewes)

Opened in Autumn of 2014 and put on several courses in the district.

Brighton and Hove

Brighton and Hove Campus is our only true hub campus hosted at Frederick Place in the centre of Brighton. Using several community based venues the College has grown and developed through the pilot with Southdown Recovery Services. Drawing from the pool of resources of its Peer Trainers and practitioners and those of Sussex Partnership Brighton and hove are able to put on a wide range of courses in the area



Recovery is something people define and experience for themselves. A mental health service cannot make someone recover although it can support the process.

“Recovery is about building a meaningful and satisfying life, as defined by the person themselves, whether or not there are ongoing or recurring symptoms or problems” (Shepherd, Boardman and Slade, 2008, ‘Making Recovery a Reality’, SCMH)

Recovery has been described as a way of living a satisfying and hopeful life even with the limitations caused by illness. The accounts of people who have faced the recovery journey identify a number of common features that seem to be important. These include: hope; tacking back control; developing valued roles and relationships; grieving what’s been lost; finding meaning and purpose, spirituality; and having the opportunity to do the things that they value (Anthony, 1993; Repper and Perkins, 2003; Roberts et.al. 2006; Spaniol and Koehler, 1994; SCMH, 2009).

“Recovery is an ongoing process of growth, discovery, and change” (Stocks, 1995)
Recovery is remembering who you are … being the best that you can be” (Recovery Innovations)

Recovery oriented services shift the primary focus from reducing symptoms towards enabling people to take back control of their lives, do the things they want to do and live a valued life. making choices about their own life and achieving these goals.
“the gift that people with disabilities can give each other … hope, strength and experience as lived through the recovery process … a person does not have to be ‘fully recovered’ to serve as a role model… a person who is only a few ‘steps’ ahead of another person can be more effective than one whose achievements seem overly impressive and distanced” (Deegan, 1998)
“…the lived or real life experience of people as they accept and overcome the challenge of the disability… recovering a new sense of self and of purpose within and beyond the limits of the disability.” (Deegan 1988)

Recovery College Philosophy

The Recovery College has a philosophical approach grounded in educational and recovery oriented practise to promote hope, opportunity, wellbeing, equality and taking back control of your own life and recovery though learning.

The College is open to people with mental health challenges and dementia; their relatives, friends and carers, and staff of partner organisations.
People using the College are seen as students rather than patients, carers and staff: “I am valued. I am like everyone else”

The College focuses on people’s talents and resources and what they can do.
Courses help students to develop their own skills and achieve their life goals.
The College promotes choice - students register with the College and choose  courses which will help them.

Students and tutors co-produce individual learning plans about students’ goals and support needs. They become experts in their own care rather than professionals assessing them or prescribing what they think might help: “Which of these courses interest you?”
The course's are run by Peer Trainers with lived experience who work alongside traditionally qualified staff who coach or tutor students to find their own recovery path.
At the end of the academic year, students graduate with a Certificate of Completion and, for some courses, academic credits.



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Contact us

East and West Sussex campuses

Telephone: 0300 303 8086

Email: Sussex.recoverycollege@nhs.net


Recovery College

Education and Training

Aldrington House

New Church Road




Brighton and Hove campus 

For Brighton and Hove campus only please contact:

Telephone: 01273 749500

Email: recoverycollege@southdownhousing.org


Brighton & Hove Recovery College

42 Frederick Place


BN1 1EA 

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