Greenwich college for people suffering from mental health issues is transforming lives

At first Maria Wright was too scared to enter a building.

She suffered from anxiety and she was referred to Greenwich’s Recovery College.

Ms Wright, of Woolwich, said: “My journey with the Recovery College started with me being too anxious to go in the building.”

The Recovery College runs peer-led courses on how to better manage mental health and
wellbeing.

In a normal year, the College delivers 112 workshops and courses. It is run by the Bridge Support mental health charity based in Welling, Bexley.

Bridge created the Recovery College to help people with mental health issues recover through courses to improve their wellbeing.

They have opened a cafe called Stir which gives students in their college a chance to ease themselves back into work.

Ms Wright said: “Once I arrived I was met with incredibly friendly, happy people.

“I enjoyed the book club. It allowed me to meet new people and started a great friendship with another service user / volunteer that remains with me to this day.

“My time at the Recovery College built up my confidence so much that when the opportunity to volunteer in the new.

Stir café came up, I jumped at the chance. I attended all the training and I learnt a lot. My
confidence grew even further as I was working in an incredibly supportive and encouraging
Environment.”

Soon Ms Wright got herself into a position where she felt able to leave the college and look for full time employment.

She said: “I was very upset to leave but incredibly grateful. The Recovery College gave me very helpful steps towards getting my life back on track and I will be eternally grateful to everyone for the support and encouragement I received.”

Ms Wright then completed an access to nursing course at London South East Colleges and received a distinction.

She said: “I have now been accepted at King’s College, London, to study for a Nursing Degree, which I am so pleased about and it is all going well.”

When Greenwich Clinical Commissioning Group commissioned the service in 2013, they decided to place the College within the heart of the community rather than in a NHS setting.

More than 1000 students have enrolled in the college since then.

A spokeswoman for Recovery College said: “Students are not asked for details of their mental health diagnosis on their enrolment.

“Many students say that this 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.”

The college runs peer led courses as students are trained to teach.

Raymond Sheehy, Bridge chief executive, said: “Our focus on enabling students to train as peer trainers to deliver courses, shows our whole ethos of the College. That students and staff should work together to create a great service and community.”


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