In 2001 I was living in Manningham in Bradford, on a street nick-named "death-row". I had finished university and I was unemployed, short of money, bored and lonely. A turning point for me was finding people I could trust to talk to. I made friends on my street and volunteered for Princes Trust. I began to see that I had something to offer.
Since then I have trained as an occuaptional therapist, worked in hospitals and community teams and trained as a peer facilitator, delivering courses to hundreds of people.
As an NHS employee I became an expert at complaining. Too many referrals, not enough time, not enough resources, too much stress. I felt under pressure to solve the problems of the people I was working with, and improve a service that was struggling to meet demand.
I discovered peer support, in the form of the Wellness Recovery Action Plan. These groups had a facilitator who welcomed people and provided structure. Then the group members took responsability for writing a plan for being well.
Peer support works. People don't wait for an appointment with a professional, instead people take personal responsability and take actions that allow them to stay well!
You will still hear me complain from time to time, however, I am passionalte about making peer support widely available. Bradford has given me so much and I hope to give something back.