Our Recovery College is experiencing exciting times as it launches itself in new premises in the heart of the community in Woolwich, South East London. We have moved the College to premises at 23 Angelsea Road, Woolwich. We are the first ever Recovery College to be hosted within the community.
Located in a building which hosts a café, classes are run in the café and offices are located on site. The café which is in development is to open to the public soon, called Stir café. A hospitality and catering course has been running to train students up to gain work experience as waiters, waitresses and baristas in the new café, serving delicious food and drink to the public.
The growth of recovery colleges in recent years is helping to fill the gap in mental health service provision between in-patient care and outpatients’ recovery within the community. When Greenwich Clinical Commissioning Group commissioned the service in 2013, they took the innovative step to place the college within the community. Currently, more than 1,000 students are enrolled. The location at the new site which also hosts a café, is developing into a local mental health and wellbeing hub under an umbrella of service provision, The Recovery Place.
Students are not asked for details of their diagnosis on enrolment at the college. Many students say that enrolling is the first time someone has focused on their life and what they want to achieve rather than their diagnosis and report the positive impact this has had on their mental health and wellbeing.
For example, student Claudia said: “The Recovery College has saved my life and given me a purpose. I always feel I can come back despite any bad days. Sometimes the struggle isn’t so bad, it shows me how strong I really am. I don’t have to pretend to be someone I’m not at the College. Staff don’t ask you for a diagnosis on enrolment, we’re just accepted for who we are.”
The Recovery College provides a full prospectus of courses and workshops for people who are currently or have previously lived with mental illness. The range of subjects include practical skills for independent living through to vocational skills to help the learner move towards the workplace, all delivered with attention to the wellness and wellbeing that comes from attainment.
In a normal year, the college will administer and deliver 112 workshops and courses engaging 1344 learner places. Of these workshops and courses over 70% are delivered by peer trainers, students who have been trained to deliver courses, and all 95 workshops and courses are co-produced with students.
Courses range from Social Groups and Workshops to Courses:
Social Groups include:
· Chess and Games Club
· Information Technology
· A lunchtime health walk
· Lunchtime Languages
· ‘Men’s Circle,’ a peer support group for men
· An allotment project where students visit and work on a local allotment
· Confidence and Self-Esteem
· Knitting for Wellbeing
· Reading Group