The Road To Recovery, Peer Support Groups at Leeds Mind.

I have recently been attending Peer Support Groups at the Wellbeing Service at Leeds Mind – Clarence House in Horsforth.

Initially I felt quite hesitant about attending a support group. I wondered if it was the right thing to do. Was I going backwards? Was I too vulnerable? What would it be like?  Would I get entangled in other people’s stories?  However I did decide to go and it’s been really beneficial.  I have found it to be a really supportive environment.

There are a variety of courses including: Confidence Building, Self-esteem, Assertiveness Skills,  Mindfulness and Relaxation techniques. Some of the courses run for a day and some of the courses are run over a number of weeks.  The facilitators all have personal experience of mental ill-health and are professional, skilled, insightful and caring.  I appreciated that the group was facilitated by people who have personal experience – I think it’s so important.  It’s not an ‘Us and Them’ environment and so it put me at ease.

One of the reasons why I think it works so well is that the groups feel very safe. The courses have structure and everyone speaks in turn around the group. If you want to you can pass on your turn – if it feels too much.  There are ground rules in place which are discussed at the start of a course which  include things such as: to try not to talk over each other, respect each other, that it’s okay to make mistakes, to refrain from giving advice and to keep things confidential.  The setting is beautiful and non-clinical. One room in particular has a stunning view over a lovely garden which contains lovely trees and squirrels can be seen scampering around.  There is a kitchen so you can make yourself a cuppa in the break-time .A small affordable donation is suggested for the sessions but it is said that this is not necessary if you really cannot afford it.

Attending the groups has given me chance to express my feelings and share my experience in a safe environment, with people who understand and are non-judgmental.  I’ve also gained a lot of insight from other people’s experiences.

One thing that has struck me is just how nice everyone is – there is something quite humbling about the experience.  If there is anything positive to take from experiencing mental illness/distress – is that perhaps that it can make people more understanding.

There is no formal referral process – please call the Wellbeing Service on 0113 305 5802

Thank you to Leeds Mind,

VIcky

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7 thoughts on “The Road To Recovery, Peer Support Groups at Leeds Mind.

  1. Vicky it is commendable that despite your apprehension you gave the groups a go! and to hear how safe an environment staff and members mange to make it…you of course being part of that accepting spirit. It is also good to hear how you appreciate the building and it’s setting too, there is something peaceful about it, I used to attend Clarence House when it was a day centre, I remember the excitement and enthusiasm volunteers and members had in it’s developement. There is a lovely walk from there to Bramley Fall woods, where you can cross the canal and river to the cosy Abbey Pub, not only a good watering hole but a music venue too, a long stones throw maybe from mine! but not impossible for a stroll on a fine spring day………
    Su

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  2. Thanks Su. It’s often daunting to join a group of some kind, but it was well worth it. It also adds structure and routine to my life which is needed at the moment.
    I often wished I had attended some kind of group like this prior to things ‘getting out of hand’ shall we say. Life can be quite solitary for some in this day and age. There are more single people living alone then there ever was (I haven’t checked stats – just assuming and I am sure I read that somewhere ) and some people do not have support at home, even if they live with people.
    Also at times it may feel that you do not want to discuss things or put too much on friends.
    These groups are really healthy and structured.
    The walk you mention sounds nice! Must try it one day.
    Thanks for your comments x

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  3. Vicky, thank you so much for this really positive post. I’ve shared it with all our staff and I know all the peer support facilitators and volunteers will get to see it. We’re very proud of the work the team do and just want to be able to do more and more all across the city! Thanks again, Niccola

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  4. Thanks for your comments Niccola,

    Expanding across the city sounds like an excellent idea, I guess it’s just a question of funding? The facilitators have been excellent.

    Thanks again,
    Vicky

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  5. Hi Vicky, Kathy here – i have been a member of peer support for a while and now have the priviledge of co-ordinating the project. I just wanted to say thank you for your lovely feedback and to add the you post very much reflelcts my experience of Peer Support. I have always found that it is the support, understanding, empathy and kindness of the group members (past and present) that makes peer support and Leeds Mind such a warm, kind and nurturing place. I felt very lucky to have found a safe space where i could about my feelings and develop and share coping stragegies that have helped me manage my mental health and to stay well. Look forward to seeing you at groups in the future.
    Kathy

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