Two Moray Wellbeing Hub Champions were invited to attend the annual See Me Champion celebration in Glasgow to share the peer-led approach of Moray Wellbeing Hub and the learning behind their Peer2Peer pilot. This pilot of evening workshops ran January to June 2108 with 18 local Champions in Moray and evaluated well in terms of empowerment and challenging self-stigma.
A report on this project can be accessed here – 18 Peer2Peer See Me Pilot report
The day was a full one full of different voices, creative expression and reflections on activity over the year. Toni, who leads the social movement, focused the event early with a reminder that we were all, “here under a collective vision.” Chris, one of the young people programme workers, provided an energizer that had us all laughing and forgetting our own names. It was a good choice and gave some food for thought on what other memory games our team in Moray could use to connect people at events.
Toni then focused the attendees with an update on the growth of the movement for change. Key themes that were going to be explored in 2019 included embedding stigma and discrimination work in communities, attending to marginalised groups to ensure they were included, creating packs to resource communities with tools, continuation of conversations and social contact.
It was time for us to take the stage and present. We had equally shared the script and it seemed to go down very well. Several people remarked on it afterwards. There were so many kind people bigging us up and our presentation; it was a pleasure to be there.
Chris then came back on stage to give us an update on the young people programme at See Me. He spoke about volunteers often feeling that they needed to become experts in mental health. He used a useful analogy of a lifeguard, someone very highly trained who saves lives but that everyone can, “learn to swim and be aware of what drowning looks like”. Thus –
…we don’t all need to psychologists to be able to support or signpost someone in mental distress.
The young people programme resources include ‘What’s on your mind’ which is delivered by young people to peers. They had also had success in supporting young people to deliver Scottish Mental Health First Aid to peers, the new emoji powered online tool ‘Feels FM’ and in capturing the “truth as authentic voice” as part of a review of CAMHS services in Scotland. Chris shard a video that shows their work was with pupils from Earlston High in the Borders and reminded everyone that “schools are communities even in urban areas” and that strategic approaches are needed because there has been evidence that ‘flash in the pan’ talks are not effective and can actually reinforce stigma. The See Me Champions were keen to see a more joined up approach around young people and this seemed to be an area the team were looking to return to.
The rest of the day was taken up with afternoon workshops including ours looking at the Peer2Peer tool and our approach to community empowerment. People seemed engaged and interested, certainly there were a number of people keen to contact us with questions on how we set up and structured ourselves.
Throughout the event there were creative moments, small skits were performed on challenging stigma, there was a reflection video made up of Champion voices and a couple of See Me Champions shared their poetry including Angela McCrimmon who has published poems in a book “Can You Hear Me Now?” and Benjamin MacElwee who read his poem on recovery published here and reminded us that “Showing something of ourselves is important especially if we have professional roles”.
We had some very interesting and stimulating conversations with different See Me champions and volunteers including with someone who had been a mental health nurse, another who was a peer trainer and a few keen to start their own social enterprises.
It was great to have a novel peer-led experiences, See Me Champions are a diverse group. There were great cross-pollination of people who worked or were Champions with other mental health organisations like SRN or SAMH. The evaluation was a poster where you had to draw yourself and explain why you were there is you wished – a great idea and very creative… one we may well steal for our work!
One thing that surprised us was the number of Champions who seemed to be a lone voice in their community for challenging stigma. It seemed to us a real shame that they did not have more local people to support them. We felt very lucky to have the Moray Champion collective and such high numbers in one small locality.
At the end of the day thanks and gifts of wellness journals were presented. We were delighted and very surprised to be included in this, it was a touching and thoughtful gesture. Finally a ‘massiokey’, a group sing along, was organised to finish the day.