Supporting service users

SLaM Recovery College update and short film

"When I rocked up at the doors of SLaM and became a service user I was a broken human being. So, if you were to ask me what the college means to me, then the one thing above all is, it means hope.” Tony Holmes, peer recovery trainer and Operations Manager at SLaM Recovery College

SLaM Recovery College has been funded by donations and combines both professional and personal support to help its students recover from mental health difficulties. A short film has been made to showcase the fantastic work that is carried out by the people working and learning at the Recovery College.

Looking back at what’s been achieved

The film features interviews with current and former service users and mental health professionals at the college. It’s made with the aim of taking stock of and celebrating what’s already been achieved, and looking at next steps for the Recovery College. It’s more than doubled its registrations per term since opening its doors in 2014 with around 350 students attending a course each term.

Speakers in the film include Chief Executive of SLaM Matthew Patrick, Professional Head of Occupational Therapy Gabrielle Richards, and SLaM Recovery College Manager/Practitioner Trainer Kirsty Giles and the team members who played significant roles in the formation of the college.

‘It’s become a part of the fabric of the Trust. It’s often been referred to in connection to other good initiatives and supporting one of the Trust’s strategic aims as a vehicle from treatment to prevention, working to empower people and help them stay well through effective self-management and peer support,’ says Gabrielle.

Complementing clinical services at SLaM

The college delivers workshops and courses right across south London, and is part of South London and Maudsley’s mental health services. It runs a range of free courses that cover topics from how to get a good night’s sleep, to understanding OCD, to how to find a flat to live in, and is open to all service users and people who work at SLaM.

Every course is delivered by both an individual who has lived through mental health difficulties (who are called peer recovery trainers) and a mental health professional, to provide the full range of support. They are designed to complement the clinical services offered by South London and Maudsley Trust.

The vast majority of attendees have been SLaM service users but also include people caring for individuals with mental health issues and SLaM staff.

Feeling personally valued at the college

Tree of Life facilitator and sessional peer recovery trainer Ursula Joy says, ’As a proud mental health service user I feel personally valued and cherished. I’ve been given the opportunity to grow personally, and learn lots of facilitation skills that would not have been easy for me to get anywhere else.’

Ursula is a prime example of someone who has both benefited from and delivered mental health services at the Recovery College.

Students praise how powerful listening to peer trainers’ experiences has been in helping them to recover from mental health difficulties, and in dismantling the barriers of communication and stigma that exist between those who have lived through mental health problems and the rest of the community.

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More information about courses

The range of short and longer courses are divided into four key areas:

  • Understanding mental health difficulties and treatment
  • Rebuilding your life
  • Developing knowledge and skills
  • Getting involved

Torie Robinson is a Recovery College student and has benefited from the unique combination of learning from both a peer recovery trainer and a mental health professional.

She says, ‘Having both peer trainer and practitioner in the room is a perfect way to do it. Not only do you get to speak to the doctor or professional, and get the textbook answer and how it’s seen from the doctor’s perspective, but you’ve got somebody that’s been through this rubbish experience, which also makes it less formal. I think that’s so important for people who are suffering because you are more likely to open up.’

SLaM Recovery College has been going from strength to strength, and would not have been possible without the support of people like you. Please donate to SLaM to ensure that special projects like this can continue to happen in the future.

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