“It’s positive that people can see that someone can get better – not totally recovered but having a better life.” Sharon
Our Daybreak learning centre offers courses and activities for people experiencing mental health issues, as well as their family, friends, and the professionals who support them. We provide opportunities for people with lived experienced to volunteer as peer trainers who facilitate courses alongside professionals.
Sharon began volunteering with us because of her experience of living with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)and anxiety, and her belief that better support and information should be available.
Sharon: “It can be difficult to get help and know what services are available. Daybreak is doing such a good thing here and the courses are free which is important.
“I co-facilitate sessions, which involves helping to prepare resources and run the session on the day, including ‘icebreaker’ activities, presenting information and being involved in discussions. I'm very aware of people that are struggling during the session and try to encourage involvement.
“I can experience every type of emotion. I can start with feeling empathy and nervousness, and then feel proud and excited for people when they take in what we’re sharing and try to change their coping strategies. There was one session with a mixture of men and women aged from 20 to 72 and it was just amazing.
“Some things in the sessions can trigger my anxiety and be a bit ‘close to home’. Sometimes it can feel quite intense because I can relate to people on the course so much and feel a connection. But it’s a positive thing because I feel like I’m doing something to help.
“In the feedback forms people often say it’s helpful to hear from someone with lived experience. They can relate to me and I understand what they're feeling. Someone even wrote 'this course saves lives'. It’s positive that people can see that someone can better – not totally recovered but having a better life.”
“The training has also been really good here. I've gained qualifications in areas such as personality disorder, and suicide prevention.
“It was also interesting when I helped provide staff training on 'alternatives to self- harm'. People who had been involved in helping me were sat at the front, and there I was stood in front of them sharing my experience to help them improve how they do things. It was quite liberating.”