Bridge hosts Recovery College Greenwich, a recovery college which is flourishing within the community.
Recovery colleges are run like mainstream colleges but the focus is on educational courses to support students’ mental health and wellbeing and help students by developing skills for recovery and creating shared learning experiences.
Recovery College Greenwich was commissioned by Greenwich Clinical Commissioning Group in 2013 and opened its doors in autumn 2014. The College is based in the centre of Woolwich and currently provides over 550 students with free educational courses designed to enhance mental health and wellbeing and aid recovery from mental ill-health.
The College takes an educational rather than therapeutic approach and the focus is very much on what each student wants to achieve. And so, students are not asked for details of their diagnosis on enrolment. This inclusive policy allows the College to meet the needs of a diverse range of people with lived experience of mental health, their friends, family, carers and practitioners as well as others such as employers and employees with an interest in mental health and wellbeing.
Collaboration is a founding ethos of Recovery College Greenwich. Four in five (80 per cent) of college staff have lived experience of mental health problems and they collaborate as peer trainers or tutors with students to deliver courses, leading to improved recovery outcomes for students.
Successful partnership working has enabled the College to help students achieve positive outcomes. Working with local organisations, the College has delivered workshops on a range of wellbeing topics from assertiveness to self-esteem. Several students have accessed employment and training opportunities through partnership working and have progressed to work or college training as a result. For example, one of the College tutors worked with a student to develop her confidence in reading and supported her to enrol at a local college to further develop her skills.
Another success is how we signpost many students to relevant services in the Borough that may aid the student’s recovery as well as many more GPs signposting clients to the college. In the past year, Recovery College Greenwich has built a solid foundation from which to grow and make an even greater impact on the wellbeing of the people of Greenwich. Students have reported a wide range of positive impact on their mental health and wellbeing through taking part in Recovery College courses.
For example: “I’m an anxious person but this College is very friendly and you don’t have to pretend to be anyone but yourself – if I’m having a bad day I can have a bad day and the staff are really supportive,” said LeeTanya P, student “I now know how to look at things differently, incorporating a more positive attitude to life,” a Student on the Mindfulness course added.
“I’ve taken the assertiveness, IT and creative writing courses. These courses have enabled me to produce a newsletter for a support group I attend for families affected by substance misuse. The College has made me realise I have even more potential and given me the confidence to achieve much more. The tutors are so caring and people with mental health issues need places like this in order to grow,” said Angela (student).