‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’

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“As a little girl my grandfather told me there is no such thing as a secret,” says Sandra who has recently taken on a peer supporter post with a new A&E initiative. “He said, that for something to be a secret, you would have to dig a hole, put your head in it, say your secret then cover it,” she adds.

“I like my journal as it represents that hole, a safe place to express myself. As a Journal Writing Facilitator I now share this with others.”

Below Sandra shares excerpts from her journal

I believe that we are all Peer Supporters…  I wasn’t aware that what I had been doing most of my life, actually had a label. Helping people with their problems is not just the work of professionals, being a ‘people-helper’  is something I have always been. From handling feelings of bitterness and frustration, depression and insecurity, the most common question asked is ‘ I know what I should do, but how do I do it’?

Every person has his/her own interesting world. And as a Peer Supporter we do not enter people’s worlds by taking a pot-shot at them. We help people most when we talk to them on a one-to-one basis; if people’s personal problems are to be solved, it must be done by giving more individual attention to the issues.

Since becoming a Peer Supporter in 2013, I have learnt that people do not grow or change much unless they are given an opportunity to discuss their problems thoroughly. I have no great experience in helping people with their problems, but I am a good listener and I care. And I have found it surprising how one person can help another when there is a genuine demonstration of tender, loving care.

As a Peer Supporter I am able to communicate in a language which the person can easily understand. Since a Peer Supporter’s primary concern is about another human being who is hurting, all their efforts are directed towards the end.

‘If we don’t know where we are going, then any road will get us there.’

For me as a Peer Supporter all disturbed feelings are a symptom and not a cause. My goal is to discover what is causing them and to remove the hindrance.

~ The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. ~ Lao Tzu

Mrs Motive

Closing the gap between thinking about doing and actual​ly doing.​

Since joining Certitude in May 2015, it has been a roller coaster. Without the ability to test the water with my toe, I was thrown in the deep end. There was no problem with this as I was excited to be working again.

Helping out SLaM (South London & Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust) with their interviews for their 24-hour mental health support line has been a great experience.

I wasn’t sure what I was going to contribute to this process, but was made comfortable by Vicky Glen-Day, Clinical Service lead for Lambeth Crisis Services’ warm welcome and relaxed manner. I made an error (which Vicky quickly helped correct) due to nerves I think. I believe the process went quite well.

I am not a great note taker so did not write a lot but knew what I was looking for from the answers given.

The interviewee today in my truthful opinion did not answer any of the seven questions asked in relation to the job they were applying for. They had a lot of experience in the care sector but was unable to transfer that to working on a telephone line.

The experience on the interview panel was enjoyable, as both Vicky and Derek, Vicky’s manager, were welcoming. I believe that having a Peer Supporter on the interview panel is a good thing. In my opinion it is the foundation to building a partnership between the SLaM  and Certitude teams. However, the most important reason for me is that I am able to ensure that there is a balance and therefore whoever is hired is person-centred. Peer Support and supporting someone in crisis is about the individual and their needs and not all medical focus.

I have been asked to sit on the upcoming interview panel and I got to tell you I am so looking forward to it.

Sandra Tomlinson

Click here to read more about this initiative

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