The Recovery College (by Bridge Support) supports personal recovery from mental ill-health through learning achievement. We help people focus on what they are capable of achieving, not their limitations.
The team here are all adult education specialists with personal or professional experience of mental ill-health and working with learners who have multiple barriers to learning. There are no clinicians at the Recovery College and it shouldn’t be regarded as an alternative to clinical services.
Who is the Recovery College for?
Deciding to become a Recovery College student should be an informed choice that each individual makes freely. As professionals, we may see the benefits that learning brings to recovery, but personal recovery begins with taking agency over decision making. The client must recognise the value.
Attending the Recovery College may be included in a care or support plan, but it should never be mandatory or conditional. Ideally, students should be signposted to the college, take the first step themselves and sign up of their own accord.
Our Approach to personal recovery
CHIME is a framework we use at the college to guide personal recovery. In fact, it is helpful for anyone and anywhere in these times of increased isolation.
- Connectedness – A positive relationship with people, places and things.
- Hope and optimism – A belief in the possibility of ‘better’ and aspiring to achieve it.
- Identity – Having a positive sense of self, beyond diagnosis or stigma.
- Meaning – Developing meaningful life and social roles.
- Empowerment – Taking control and responsibility for their own life.
Establishing and maintaining these factors helps the student become more resilient and better able to manage the ebb and flow of their illness.
The CHIME framework is used in conjunction with the Andragogic theory. This theory recognises the value of the experience of the adult learner. Adults need to be involved in the planning and evaluation of their own learning. It supports the transition away from dependent and towards self-directed learning.
A person is not their diagnosis
In fact, we don’t require students to tell us their diagnosis at all. They share as much as they feel necessary in order to help them while they’re at the college. We work with the person, not their illness. This helps people focus on taking control of their recovery, encourages an emotional connection with new skills and offers empowerment through hope and self-worth.
Care pathways are not talked about and students decide their own recovery path through their course choices. They can stay as little as a few months or for as many years as they need. While courses and activities at the college may provide a therapeutic effect, we do not offer any therapies.
What can the Recovery College offer its students?
Following successful enrollment, students begin with the first step, the Information, Advice & Guidance Recovery ( IGA) sessions. New students tell us what their recovery aims are so we can see how we can help. Following these sessions, students will have a good idea of which courses they think will best support their recovery.
Following the IGA sessions is the six week Foundation program. This enables students to make informed choices about their personal recovery journey, including the courses that will support them the most with their goals and aspirations for the future.
The IGA and Foundation Course are offered both in-person or online. The option of online attendance allows new students to get to know their tutors and peers from the comfort of their own homes. This can greatly reduce stress and anxiety about attending college for the first time.
The college offers a range of courses, workshops and activities. Our Courses promote wellbeing by helping our students to develop their skills and realise their abilities. They typically run for six weeks and include subjects such as Reading for Pleasure, Meditation, Maths that Matters, Art, Cooking and Healthy Relationships.
Workshops are one-off sessions and vary in length from two hours to a full-day session. Sessions we have run in the past include Card Making, Goal Setting, Biscuit Making and Getting Online.
Our Activities offer a chance to get outdoors into the fresh air and include options such as Gardening Project, Healthy Walk, Allotment Project, Couch to 5k and Keep Fit. Physical activity and building community links are great ways to support mental health.
Peer Support Groups offer a safe space for students to share experiences and feel heard and promote connectedness and a sense of common mutuality. We currently offer a Men’s Circle, Ladies’ Circle and Writers Circle.
Some students go on to use their lived experience and become course tutors themselves. We call this Peer Training and it is an opportunity for past students to give something back, help others and be a role model.
If you think you could benefit get in touch we’d love to hear from you.