Who doesn’t like cake and certificates!
Marking a milestone in the development of a Highland Recovery College, HUG Action for Mental Health and Centred came together to celebrate the learning journey of their Peer2Peer course graduates!
Our Network Officer John Beaton tells us more…
I was delighted to be invited to attend a Peer2Peer graduation ceremony in late September. Using financial support from Scottish Government’s Communities, Mental Health and Wellbeing Fund, two Highland mental health charities came together to deliver the Peer2Peer course. The learning from this collaboration was also used as part of building strong foundations for Highland’s first Recovery College.
The event was a significant milestone for both organisations and one well worth marking. People were really focused on celebrating the role peer support can play, and indeed, how it can be a playful experience.
Sometimes people look at the idea of peer support and recovery as something very serious, but actually we have laughed a lot. I certainly found that I have grown on a personal level, and I can see the growth in everyone.Sue Lyons, Peer2Peer Facilitator, HUG Action for Mental Health
The celebration was a light-hearted reminder of the positivity that the learning space Peer2Peer can create in our communities. This was reflected in the laughter that continued to resonate around the room on graduation day. There was learning too for Centred as an organisation building capacity for a Recovery College.
Centred has learnt so much during this experience. We have seen tangibly the benefit lived experience leadership and peer support will have on our organisation. The future is bright for a Recovery College in Highland because of these amazing newly skilled peer supporters.Annabel Mowat, Deputy CEO, Centred
Ingredients for recovery
After the ceremony (while grabbing some cake!) I caught up with Debbi Fraser, one of the Peer2Peer graduates. Debbi shared with me her thoughts and feelings about the experience of taking part in Peer2Peer.
Every single person is different. Nine of us have done our peer support training, each one of us did the same course. Yet each one of us comes away from this being able to offer somebody, something completely different!Debbi Fraser, Peer2Peer Graduate
Her words prompted us to reflect on the Peer2Peer approach. Nine people graduated that day and like the process of making a great cake, Peer2Peer can bake together the ingredients of lived experience and expertise into a rich mix.
Celebrating lived experience
Debbi also spoke passionately about how the Peer2Peer experience had changed her relationship to her own lived experience. She is optimistic about using her lived experiences to provide peer support to others in her community. Positively impacting how people can relate to their own and others lived experience. Something we feel well worth celebrating!
For so long I thought everything I had gone through, this is who I am because of that. But now I am seeing that everything I have gone through is making me the person that can be somebody for someone else.
For a long time, I thought this is who I am, and I can’t do anything about it. It doesn’t define me anymore. Now I am seeing things in a different light. Now there is something good coming out of it, if I can just help one other person on a recovery journey.Debbi Fraser, Peer2Peer Graduate
Debbi also highlighted her hopes for the future and how Peer2Peer had changed the way she viewed her identity.
When I got my diagnosis I felt it defined who I was. I felt it would impact just negatively on my future. It felt bleak. I have a mental illness, a diagnosis, I’m not going to get employment. People are going to judge me differently because of the stigma. But now, actually being accepted for the Peer2Peer course and graduating from it, it’s not holding me back, if anything it’s driving me forward.Debbi Fraser, Peer2Peer graduate
Want a way to celebrate lived experience?
As you can see providing meaningful opportunities that help people to grow as peer supporters is important. It was a pleasure to see first-hand the positive impact of Peer2Peer and to celebrate alongside the people involved. We look forward to sharing more about the Highland Recovery College in the future and to catching up with our new graduates!
Peer2Peer is a package of training and free resources that help people with lived experience to develop their skills, knowledge and experience in peer support. It provides a flexible framework that you can adapt to meet the needs of people and organisations interested in developing peer support in their communities.
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