On the Strengthening DPULOs Programme Facebook page, I often see fantastic work that DPULOs are doing. After reading about the brilliant peer support work Impact MH are doing and discovering some of the outcomes they’re achieving, I asked their CEO, Déanne Clark, to tell us more about it…
Impact MH is a mental health service user-led charity delivering services to promote recovery, raise awareness of mental health and tackle stigma and discrimination. We work in partnership with local providers, commissioners and service users to improve the quality of local mental health services through engagement, consultation and creating an effective communication channel.
We have been operating for over nine years and became an independent charity in 2010, increasing our service user engagement and contact to over 240 members. Through the tough economic times and changes in local funding, Impact MH has fully embraced change and created a new service – the Peer Support Programme – based on the changing needs and comments from our members.
It was a daring move in such uncertain times, but one we feel is already proving a fantastic success!
The Impact MH Peer Support Programme, funded by SEPT and the Strengthening DPULOs Programme, is a six-week peer led programme that aims to increase confidence and wellbeing and provide opportunities for enhancing recovery and wellness. Importantly, this programme offers a safe environment in which a group of people can share their experiences, their ups and their downs, whilst supporting each other and making new friends. At the end of the six weeks, there are many options for people to get further involved with our monitoring work, including becoming volunteers by attending the Peer Volunteer Induction sessions, going on to support individuals in the community and, within secure settings, to help with transition and signposting.
Other exciting opportunities involve new friendships and networks formed during the programmes, establishing self-support groups based on common interest, such as fishing, reading, dancing. Encouragingly, these groups are supported by existing community-based organisations willing to provide advice and resources.
The Peer Support Programme, in our opinion, is the best thing to happen since someone discovered peanut butter and jam went well together! You know when you’re on to a good thing when the evidence is overwhelming and staff, volunteers and members walk around grinning from ear to ear. Half way through our third programme, we have already seen:
- Four people attend job interviews
- Six people apply to become volunteers
- Three self-support groups begin the process of setting up.
I could go on but sometimes, and more often than not with a user-led organisation, it is best to let those who are experiencing the services to say what they need to say:
With the right help, mental wellbeing and strength I believe any job is attainable – I would recommend the Impact peer group to anyone.
It has been incredibly useful and I would like to help others the way the programme has helped me.
This course helped me to look at myself in a different way and redefine my focus on my pathway to recovery with the parameters set by me.
This is a massive thank you to all for the best six-weeks ever! I have learnt so much and enjoyed every second. My mind has been re-booted and I feel ready to launch myself into whatever life throws at me – not only that, I am ready to be Mistress of my own destiny!