Our blog co-production group is keen to let you know more about the Recovery College so we decided to interview people from the team that leads the College. First up, Peer Trainer Sheryl agreed to sit down for a quick chat with Matt, one of our volunteers.
Matt: What is a Peer Trainer’s role?
Sheryl: I guide people through their enrolments and then we teach the classes, but we’re also involved in the co-production, the co-review, co-teaching, and the Summer School. We make phone calls after we finish teaching and that will involve calling people 24 hours before and then, two weeks into the six-week course and then we are texting people. We’ve got the responsibility if you are a Peer in a class of doing the follow-up, so that means checking in to make sure that people are okay to attend the class. Also, we’ve got a safeguarding and the duty of care responsibility.
Matt: Right. What made you decide to become a Peer Trainer?
Sheryl: A friend of mine told me about an advert on the NHS Job site when I was out of work, I’d been made redundant from the County Council and I was looking for any job where I could utilise and diversify my skills. So, I’d been out of work about eight months at that stage. So, I opened up the job, closed it back down again because I thought “Ooh, no, no, that’s not for me.” Because it was for the Primary Health & Wellbeing College and the two desirables were Adult Education Teaching certificate, which I’d got, and knowledge of physical health and an understanding around mental health and I have numerous family members that have lived with mental health challenges and myself having the physical health, that meant I’d got that lived experience of that bit. But since working here I’ve got a better understanding. So, I opened up the job spec again, and thought actually, yeah, I can do this, and I filled in the form and came for an interview and was lucky enough to be appointed.
Matt: What’s it like working at the Recovery College?
Sheryl: It’s very enjoyable. I enjoy the teaching, I enjoy being part of the team, I enjoy seeing someone in their journey from their enrolment right to their graduation. That’s just a lovely feeling watching people grow and explore that they can do more than they originally thought, and that’s just been fantastic. There are so many facets to the job, that it’s hard sometimes to put into words, but it’s a privilege to see people growing and finding new ways of living.
Matt: Thank you. What aspects of your job do you enjoy the most?
Sheryl: Oh, I think that’s got to be the teaching.
Matt: Has the Recovery College helped you?
Sheryl: It’s helped me to understand my own emotional health far better. I could never actually put it into words or understand it, especially times when things get a bit tough like excessive pain or I know I’ve got another operation coming up, that’s the toughest time. In the recovery afterwards, it can be really tough, and I know that my mood will be slightly dip so I get -I don’t actually go into a depression- but I get into a low mood, and that can last for quite a while. I could never understand what was going on or put it into words but just felt in a dark place. So I’ve been able to explain it better, and probably put strategies in prior to going into hospital, so like as literally as I’m walking into theatre, I’m practicing mantras and I’m doing my breathing. Afterwards, in a recovery period, I’m able to cope better while I’m in hospital because it’s place I hate, but I’m also able to cope better in the recovery because that’s tough because I’m not doing what I would normally do.
Matt: Thank you. Is there a story you would like to share about your time working as a Peer Trainer?
Sheryl: I don’t know. I don’t know what I could share! I suppose it’s the laughter. If anything, it’s the amount of laughter that we have here. But every day is interesting, and every day is different.
Matt: Thank you very much.
We hope to interview more members of the Recovery College Team going forward. If you have any questions that you’d like us to ask please let us know.
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