Testimonials from peer trainers and students / learners who took part in the Sussex Recovery College pilot 2013
Student Graduation Speech
I came to the recovery college a little later and, although initially daunting, I found everyone so friendly and welcoming. This alone made the whole experience rewarding and fun.
I personally attended many of the courses, including ‘What to expect from therapy’, ‘Navigating Mental Health Services’ and ‘Managing Anxiety’. All of which gave me new insight into useful and stimulating solutions for life. However the ‘Planning your own recovery’ course was the one that opened up a future for me personally.
Before this, I could see no light at the end of the tunnel, whereas now it shines brightly. I plan to train as a fitness instructor, maybe even a nutritionist, and bring health and physical exercise to those with mental health issues and learning difficulties. I have had nothing but positive feedback and encouragement from all those involved and, for the first time in a long time, since my breakdown twelve years ago, I excited about what may lay ahead.
Not only this but we have set up a follow-on group, consisting of both learning and social experiences, on a fortnightly basis. Once again we feel we have new purpose and, I think I can speak for all of us when I say, we are very enthusiastic and now have hope in out lives.
Add to this new friends and a special feeling of equality and this has felt like a true turning point. Who knows; maybe I’ll even reach my life-long dream of becoming an actress!
I would like to take this moment to thank everyone involved, from Mind staff to group leaders and participants, for making this an amazing and moving experience. I hope, in the future, many more will have the same opportunities as have been given to us.
I actually was offered a place on a free fitness course, at the graduation event, as a direct result of the recovery college and my speech.
Ellen Rose, learner Wednesday, July 31st, 2013, Brighton and Hove
When I went to the recovery college pilot I was scared, I did not understand what I had just being through, I was scared to talk, I was scared to get involved with a new group but I had hope, I hoped I would talk and I hoped I could get involved in a recovery group, after attending recovery college that hope became realistic and I did recover and I have hope that someone else who is scared can have hope and start to recover as I did, there is nothing to be scared of but there is hope.
Christine Trayers, learner, Brighton and Hove
Hello! My name’s Hazel and I consider myself extremely lucky to have experienced several of the Recovery College Courses. I would highly recommend them to others, especially anyone on a personal journey towards more positive health and well being.
The Courses offer a great variety in content, style and in length. From a one off philosophical session on ‘The Meaning of Life’, to two tasty weeks of ‘Food and Mood’ (with a shared lunch!), eight theory based weeks of athletic ‘Exercise Albion’, six creative weeks of ‘Writing for Recovery’ to a full ten week, skills packed journey towards ‘Recovery’, and many more!
All of the Courses have a common thread running through them. Which is I feel is their biggest strength. This is that Course Leaders, both Peer Trainers and Professionals have warm and compassionate personalities; working together to deliver amazing Courses. Peer Trainers demonstrate a vast wealth of ‘money can’t buy’ lived experience; creating inspiring and down to earth learning experiences. Our skilled Professionals impart in depth research theories in an accessible and non- patronising way. Courses are often fun and uplifting, and always welcoming.
Friendships and shared experience from classmates helped glue the courses together where an atmosphere of mutual support was fostered as we learned from one another.
The ‘Recovery’ Course team deserve a special mention for going the extra mile. Not only for their wide range of creative teaching methods, rapport, and infectious enthusiasm and support. . . . . . but for their extraordinary and delicious cake baking skills!
My only complaint is that the Courses weren’t long enough! I would like to thank everyone involved with the Recovery College. ‘Thank-You!’ Both for the ‘R C Experience’ and knowledge, and the take home skills. I hope to go on to train as a peer supporter, and to stay in touch with the Recovery College team as I progress.
Hazel Lambe, student, Graduation Speech Friday 22nd November 2013 - Hastings and Rother Campus
Being a peer trainer:
I became a peer trainer after the role being suggested as I was actually having difficulties managing my mental health. I had said to the practitioner that I was fed up with talking about my problems. I needed to do something constructive with my problems.
I met the team and immediately felt at ease with the group of people and straight away felt part of a positive team keen to make a difference and impact on peoples’ lives.
I was a bit of a late comer [I was always called a ‘late starter’ in my early years] and in a few days the PTTLS training begun, an intensive course on teaching adults which would give me a vocational qualification and enhance my already practiced teaching skills. The group bonded quickly and with our own set of shared difficulties and goals it was easy to make friends and feel needed.
AS we were going through this, our own course, our minds were also being challenged by thinking about the types of courses best suited to us to deliver to our students. We formed relationships with practitioners and other professionals and, for the first time in a long time, I felt part of a properly engaged and professional team with high standards and wanted goals where I and my new colleagues were able to use our skills that, in some cases, had been completely dormant for years due to illness and lack of opportunities.
The first day of our first courses there was an apprehension of whether or not we would be able to deliver something different, something unique that would reach people who have found other methods of learning how to self-manage. It was soon apparent that our courses, delivering information through both practitioners and peers at an equal level really gave our student a lot to work with. Being able to adapt answers and suggestions to individual points raised is something often a practitioner with no lived-experience could provide and equally the practitioners advice and tips would be answers the peers weren’t necessarily able to provide themselves and working as an equal partnership gave neither option true precedence and therefore the students were able to use whichever training they felt appropriate.
I can tell you that it was very difficult for me to hold back tears of admiration and joy when I saw one particular student go up on stage and deliver a speech in front of 100 people. It was a big enough leap for me but for this particular student the journey was far further and done far quicker. That student had needed to be brought into the first session of my first course terrified of being in a group. That student had attended almost all of our courses and to see the result was uplifting and if you were to ask me what the highpoint of the experience was, that was it.
Being placed in a position where I can make significant changes to others’ lives and watch people grow and move on built on those small steps, I helped with, is better medication for me than any anti-depressant. I feel this is where I belong. I can pool all of my talents and experience, become part of a great team and grow my own self-esteem and sense of self-worth into the bargain. The confidence and experiences I have had have had the most positive influence on my Personal-development than any other activity I have engaged with.
Louise Patmore, Peer Trainer Specialist, West Sussex and Brighton and Hove