We run like any other college, except we provide peer-led education as a route to meaningful mental health recovery. We work alongside and support students, volunteers, community organisations and healthcare professionals to coproduce an educational programme that responds to self-defined needs of a collective student body.
Although we operate as part of Humber Teaching NHS Foundation Trust, we are not clinical, we are not a ‘service’ and do not have access to personal health records.
The core team is made up of a handful of paid staff and volunteers, but the wider team consists of our students, community organisations and other health and social care staff.
We offer a range of self-paced e-courses and live video-call sessions on our e-learning platform. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, we simply travelled out to community venues across Hull and East Yorkshire to deliver a range of timetabled, face-to-face, group courses each academic term, but now we have a platform that can be accessed 24/7.
When we are able to safely and confidently deliver face-to-face again, we will be offering both in tandem. We wholeheartedly believe in the recovery approach, and believe in education as a route to recovery.
There is no single definition of the contested term ‘Recovery’, but within a mental health context the term ‘Recovery’ is most frequently used to describe the personal lived experiences and healing journeys of ‘people with severe and enduring mental health conditions with long term needs’ (Deegan, 1998, Anthony, 1993).
Recovery is a non-linear process of rebuilding after a crisis, taking responsibility for personal wellbeing and learning to live alongside any continued symptoms or impairments without the pressure to eventually be symptom-free. By focusing on existing and potential strengths, skills and resources, an individual can pursue what they consider to be a satisfying and meaningful life. Learning from one’s peers, someone can work towards their own self-defined goals at their own pace.
This process of rediscovery is often referred to as a ‘Recovery Journey’.
If you would like to learn more about the Recovery Approach in more detail, you can view or download the Trust document titled ‘What do we mean when we talk about Recovery?’
As this collective, we facilitate and deliver a range of free, coproduced courses, workshops and other opportunities for learning.
Personal lived experience, strengths-based peer learning, grassroots coproduction and shared decision-making is at the centre of what we do. Our educational resources are a result of blending different kinds of knowledge and experience, harnessing the expertise that comes from both professional training and real lived experience.
We believe that learning more about your experiences, valuing your own self-expertise and building upon your own resourcefulness, talents and abilities contribute to your own sense of meaningful mental health recovery.
Students are supported to draw upon their own strengths in a safe, non-judgemental learning environment, and encouraged to learn the tools they need to step towards a better, self-defined quality of life.
We also work towards challenging patronising, outdated and discriminatory medical perspectives on mental health recovery, spearheading the campaign for progressive, meaningful change within local healthcare organisations.
Anyone can access our courses and workshops. This includes current and former mental health service users, their carers, families and friends, health and social care staff, community organisations, the general public… and every else in between!
Although our courses are designed for people experiencing mental health difficulties, our offer is open to everyone, whether they identify as having mental health challenges or not.
Our physical footprint spans Hull, East Riding and parts of North Yorkshire, so that’s where are courses are made and are delivered (at least physically).
However, our general rule is this: if someone sees a course that they think will help them, and they can physically get to it / get logged in online, then they’re more than welcome to access it!
Everyone who participates in our courses are treated as an equal participant, no matter their background.
Our core team of practitioners / tutors and volunteers all have lived experience of mental health and recovery – and are encouraged to use their wealth of expertise within the planning and delivery of courses. However, coproduction (and in turn, shared ownership) is at the heart of everything we do.
This means that lots of people from different perspectives work together to co-plan, co-write and co-deliver our educational content. Lots of effort and energy goes into these courses, making sure they balance professional knowledge with the wisdom that comes from lived experience.
Part of our role is to facilitate conversations between experts by experience and experts by profession in regards course development and delivery, to make sure that lots of voices contribute to each course, workshop and learning opportunity that we offer. We help harness these different kinds of knowledge to create innovative and useful educational opportunities for others.
We use the CHIME Framework to help guide, measure and evaluate our educational content. This way, everyone of our courses, workshops and learning opportunities are fully designed with Recovery in mind.
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