I met with Len Goff, an ex-service user who was employed by the Trust to run a group for patients who had been discharged – although it transpired that some had been attending for up to twelve years! The main purpose of the meeting was relational and confidence building, encouraging people back into community life.
Len was inspiring as he described the work the group does. When people began to arrive I was introduced to the members of the group and it was explained that the group would split, half would attend an assertiveness course and the other half would go to a local cafe for chat and fellowship.
I found this really interesting because here I was seeing those who had been in inpatient units but had recovered to the point that they could return home and thrive with the support of the group. It was very hopeful after seeing some people who were so desperately ill and seemed unlikely to return to community life. The group showed that recovery to that extent was indeed possible.
The mixture of social interaction and life skills seemed to be a really good marriage which helped the members a lot. I think it was a testament to the program that people did not want to leave and had created a strong support network for themselves.
It was also nice to see because it was not at all morbid. They chatted about recovery, but also about life in general and these people seemed a million miles away from the catatonic inpatients. It was a really good way to end the placement and to see the kind of support that obviously really helps those who have been inpatients get back to life and into community. I really was singing God’s praises for the work of people like Len who are making a real difference to people’s lives and showing the love of Jesus.