Sarah, family member of a service user

“Thank you so much to the college and the tutors of the recovery college who have made a massive difference to the life of my brother.  He has attended since it opened and has, in that short time, found meaning and hope and secured permanent, paid employment as a peer support worker.  He has a confidence in his own experiences and the aspiration to help others as the college has him.  A particular thank you to Colin Jay for his sessions on Spirituality.

There is so much my brother and I could say to you all, but to keep it brief; you have done an amazing job with an individual who felt hopeless, and is now pursuing a passion he didn’t then know he had.”

Anthony, service user and ARCH student

“I was invited to attend ARCH Recovery College as a service user following an inpatient stay at a Trust hospital.  I attended a taster day and felt reassured by the very welcoming and supportive staff.  I found it especially reassuring that some of the staff have their own lived experience of mental health issues and this was very much a deciding factor in my signing up for courses. 

I know from experience the college draws on the best the trust has to offer to deliver courses.  Most importantly courses are delivered in a friendly and engaging way.  The courses at the college have been very empowering.  They have helped me understand the trust's services and how they work to support me.  I have been able to become involved in my own care and have rewritten my care plan jointly with my care coordinator after hearing about the trust's care programme approach project.  I have also been able to develop my own psychological formulation in preparation for therapy and make suggestions on my medication. 

I often feel isolated when I'm ill.  Going to the college and learning about the CHIME factors and the need to feel connected has helped me feel it is ok to make friends.  I now have friends for the first time in a decade and I am certain friendships as much as anything will help keep me well. 

The college has helped me regain my confidence.  I now volunteer in several places around the trust and often chat with clinicians.  I will sometimes bring the subject of the college up and find its work is well respected by them, even outside of the County Durham catchment area. 

The college, especially the "Recovery - The New Me" course has reminded me how to live, how to find a way back to things that bring happiness and fulfilment, despite my illness.  I try to find things that I like and nourish me and if I'm not sure if they are worth my time, I run down the CHIME factors.  Do they promote any of those?  Maybe they detract from them.  If they are a good thing I put them in my diary and do my best to get there. 

I now take recovery to mean 'living the best life possible within the limits of my condition'.  What I have found at the college has been the foundation for my recovery and a springboard to pursuing wellbeing.  Since beginning study at the college, learning about recovery and the CHIME factors, I have found the confidence to return to paid work following a 12 month absence.  Just as importantly I feel I have the understanding and tools to keep myself well, live that 'best life possible' and have hope that I can break my cycle of hospital admission.” 

Cheryl, ARCH volunteer

“I joined ARCH Recovery College as a volunteer in December 2014.  I approached ARCH as I wished to become involved in helping to develop more awareness and understanding of the facilities available in mental health, and to give something back as an ex-service user. 

The passion I have felt from all the staff and volunteers at ARCH is amazing – everyone is here to promote, develop, pass on information, teach, make aware and support our students in a way which the student has control of what and when they wish to learn. 

I have found my experience to be humbling, cathartic, energising, and hopeful; and lots and lots of fun!  Three things at ARCH that have really impressed me have been: 

  • The passion to help students learn and progress
  • The knowledge the whole team has
  • The energy to tell as many people as possible about the great work at ARCH Recovery College”