In our blog co-production group, we are keen to showcase as many different voices as possible from people who make the Nottingham Recovery College what it is. So we sat down for a chat with Ravelle-Sadé, a former student, to talk about her experience at the college. Some of you may know Ravelle-Sadé from her poetry which she performed at a Graduation Day last year, so we were also keen to find out more about how her poetry has helped her in her recovery journey.
Interview with a former student – Part 1/2
Hi Ravelle-Sadé, how did you first find out about the Nottingham Recovery College?
Well, while I was in the waiting room at the Jobcentre, I saw this little leaflet and it said “Do you struggle with assertiveness, confidence etc.?” It listed different problem areas so I picked it up, but in a kind of half-hearted way. In the past, I’ve felt that I couldn’t be up front about my mental health issues but on that day I decided to be honest with myself. It was the first time that I had kind of said to myself that I’m just going to be truthful and tell them that I don’t feel that I’m mentally in a place to look for work. When my advisor called me over and I was open with him, he pulled out this prospectus and said “Have you heard of the Nottingham Recovery College?” It turned out that the leaflet that I had picked up was the condensed version, so he gave that to me and I think attending the Recovery College was just a product of being realistic about where I was.
So, while you were at the College, was there a particular course that you found helpful and why?
I think all in all when I was adding them up, I did about eighteen or nineteen courses, and I found that I benefitted from all of them. There wasn’t one that I found irrelevant, but I like to do research and I like to kind of take learning further outside of the college. So I found it really beneficial to look at the – not necessarily a specific course - but a specific topic within a course. There were some that I found harder to explore, and I think it was those topics that showed me where unaddressed issues were. So I think that the Recovery College was good at helping me to look at myself and what affects me deeper if that makes sense? I was going to counselling as well, so I would take a topic from College and then we would explore it. That helped me to overcome some of the issues that I wouldn’t have necessarily thought that I had if you know what I mean?
Yes, I think it can be hard to even realise what the problem is when you’re going through it.
Yes, I think it helped me to acknowledge the problems that I was facing, so yeah I can’t say there was a specific course – it was just exploring everything in general.
That’s the good thing about the college. Once you’re here, all of the courses are open to you whether or not you feel they might fit you perfectly. So, going on from that, what did you enjoy most about your time at the college?
The main thing would have been the relaxed atmosphere. When I felt unwell during school years, the lack of support and understanding made it easier to not turn up so I struggled with attendance. Then my thoughts would snowball, “I can’t go back now because I’ve missed this many lessons,” “How would I explain to my teachers?” and stuff. That kind of forced me to drop out of a lot of things. At the Recovery College, if you didn’t turn up one week and someone rang to check up on you, it was more because they cared about your wellbeing, rather than your attendance. Everyone was understanding, and they weren’t authoritarian. I also found the community really important as coming here is kind of validation that you’re not the only one. Also you’re not leading with the issue you’re facing, you’re just here as a person who wants to help themselves in some way. Lastly, the Peer Trainers.
Everyone likes the Peer Trainers!
Yeah, just knowing that the Peer Trainers have had with their own experiences with mental health, or have helped others close to them with their issues. Yet they’re at the front leading a session. That is very inspirational and it’s motivating because it lets you know that where I am now isn’t necessarily where I always have to be.
Thank you to Ravelle-Sadé, and look out for the next blog post with the rest of our chat with her, where we discuss her poetry and how it has impacted on her recovery journey.
We are keen to showcase our students’ recovery journeys. If you are a former student of the Nottingham Recovery College and would like to be interviewed for our blog, please get in touch with us either through the College admin team or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note that Nottingham Recovery College courses are available if you, or someone you care for, have an open referral into secondary mental health services in Nottinghamshire. If you are unsure about our eligibility criteria please contact us.
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