"Nottingham Recovery College -Reading for Healing Course"

About: Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust / Adult mental health (inpatient) Rushcliffe / Community rehabilitation

(as the patient),

As a long term user of mental health services, I have benefitted hugely from this course and it is potentially being scrapped as there is no longer funding available for the Tutors.

This course has been like a lifeline to me in so many ways. Despite my ongoing mental health problems, the Course has been a welcome relief which has enabled me to fully engage in something in a non- threatening environment and rekindle my passion for a subject which my depression had thwarted. It has been a chance for someone who is otherwise very isolated, to meet and mix with a thoroughly lovely bunch of like- minded individuals. I went from being initially terrified of the group set up to genuinely looking forward to sharing, debating and listening within this lively diverse group. It has truly been a breath of fresh air and given me something to look forward to each week.

From the bottom of my heart I cannot praise the Recovery College enough. I am so grateful that I have finally found something that "fits" my circumstances. For many years I have felt totally at a loss as to how on Earth I was going to get my life back on track after such a long period of unemployment, hospitalisations and ongoing health problems.

I had often wondered what, if any, provision there was for people who are over the most acute phase of their illness and are now desperate to try to rebuild/ establish a life for themselves. I knew what I was looking for and desperately searched for it but it just didn't appear to exist. The only two options available to me were to attend a (chronic) day centre or try to cope in a mainstream educational establishment.

Square pegs and round holes spring to mind! Neither of these options were right for me. The day centres I visited were thoroughly depressing places full of very unwell people who didn't seem to have much hope. The atmosphere was very institutionalised and the vast majority of the clientele had been attending for years without any apparent improvement in their condition.

I had also tried to return to formal mainstream education on several occasions. Despite ticking the disability box and writing very clearly on applications that I expected I would need quite abit of (emotional) support to enable me to cope with the various social and academic demands, time and again this support failed to materialise or was woefully inadequate. Usually, the only point at which any student welfare services stepped in was when I was already in crisis and it is much harder to help someone who is feeling very stressed and anxious and has got themselves very behind with their workload than to support them along the way so that the crisis is avoided in the first place.

The Recovery College is refreshingly different in it's approach because it's underlying ethos is so positive. If it could talk (bear with me! ), it would say "Yes, you've had problems but so what? If you want to learn things, meet people, get used to being in groups, have some structure in your life, do something valid with your time, feel a sense of purpose and that you can achieve something, all in a friendly, supportive environment where you can dictate the pace, feel free to come along. Not everything will be right for you, but that's ok too- we're very flexible and work with you. Give us a ring. No pressure. "

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Response from Brown Helen, Nottingham Recovery College Manager, Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS trust We are preparing to make a change

To Josh

Thank you for taking the time to feedback and comment on the Recovery College. It is good to hear that you find the college ‘refreshingly different’, somewhere positive where you feel you can try to rebuild/establish a life for yourself, at your own pace, with a sense you can achieve something in a friendly supportive environment.

In relation to the Reading for Healing course which seems, from your posting, to have been extremely helpful to you and has given you back a passion you previously had for literature. I can confirm the current tutor is no longer available to run the course at the college, however, the college works with over 40 tutors from 27 different partnerships, some within the Trust but many from the local community eg. Central College Nottingham and the Workers Education Association. I am very hopeful that through these partnerships I will be able to find a tutor to deliver a course around Literature and reading to support recovery in the near future.

If you would like to contact the college I will personally update you as to the progress on getting a course around this subject for the Autumn Term 2013 I would also be happy to look at your next learning plan with you to see if there are any other courses in the Summer Term which may be of interest to you. We hoping to have the prospectus available in the next two weeks, we have a total of 52 courses some of which are new for the Summer Term 2013,

Thanks again for your feedback, posts like this continue to inspire us to get it right for our students and explore all options available to us.

Kind regards

Helen Brown

Nottingham Recovery College Manager

In response,

Thank you for posting this positive and touching tribute to the Recovery college. I really like the way you have anticipated what the College would say to its students if it could speak - and I am sure you are right about what it says to people who find their lives transformed by their experience here. Can I reassure you that the Reading for Healing course will be back, although one of the tutors has now left, we have others who are keen to co-deliver the course and we hope it will feature in the Autumn Prospectus.

Julie Repper

Recovery College Director

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