"This work has made me feel valued and valuable"
A buddy can take away a barrier to someone going to the Recovery College.
I’m a Buddy for Brighton and Hove Recovery College.
The buddy system is there to help anybody make use of the Recovery College services. No matter what your abilities, diagnosis, or challenges are, we want to help you make that first step.
Some people find it very difficult to go through the front door. A buddy can take away a barrier to someone going to the Recovery College.
Some people are anxious about using public transport to get to the college. Others can get to the college but are anxious about attending a class with a group of people. We can meet students outside their homes and accompany them to the college and we can also support them in the classroom.
Just having somebody there makes a huge difference. Over time, we minimise the support they receive as their confidence increases.
We can support students with dissociation, panic attacks, and anxiety, and any other mental health challenges. The college is also considerate of access needs – for example, being inclusive of people who are wheelchair users.
Having a buddy helps encourage people to progress in their own lives, to not be restricted by any diagnosis they might have. The role of a buddy is about being there and helping empower students to move forward.
I became a buddy about three or four years back whilst I was a student on the cookery and resilience courses. I was asked by the trainers to be a buddy for the cookery course and to facilitate groups.
The training involved a couple of days of induction that covered boundaries and safeguarding and everything else that was necessary for the role. There was a group of about eight of us at the time.
The Recovery College offers so much more for students to manage their recovery and it offers a diverse choice of courses from managing particular conditions to exploring art.
Being a buddy has certainly made me feel a part of the community. It’s given me confidence and goals and future ambitions. It’s made me confident that I can return to work.
It’s given me the confidence to know that what I’m doing is helping others as well as myself. Sometimes I think I can’t do things, but this work has made me feel valued and valuable. Having praise has made a huge difference. I never received praise growing up.
I feel needed and worthy. And I have control of my life.
Delivered as a partnership with the Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, the Brighton and Hove Recovery College uses education in a supportive learning environment to help people with mental health challenges become experts in their own self-care and recovery. Buddies meet up and help those students who need support attending and engaging with the college. This might involve accompanying them on a journey or meeting them outside a venue or supporting them in the classroom.