Clare Knighton – Peer Support – ‘You’re trained now aren’t you?’

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Having found hope in dark places, having experienced the power of Peer-support for myself, I have returned to the world of employment.

Can I ask you to let that sentence just sink in? I felt I had lost everything and would never work again. Here I am, fully employed as a Peer-support worker.

So my recovery journey has taken an unexpected path. I work full time on an acute ward. I have a pass for the ward, after years of trying to escape these places; I now have the responsibility that comes with being a member of staff! I’ve gone from utter despair to now believing that things will be ok, that I’m ok. I feel so lucky that the team I now work with have made me so welcome.  Not only that, they value my opinion and can see the key role that Peer-support plays in a ward environment.

However this is not a fairy story, I still have my dark days, and dark moments, but I have a reason to get up in the morning again, a reason to carry on and these thoughts alone prevent a lot of my previous self-destructive behaviours.

The other affirmation I kept saying to myself was that I am trained! Not only do I have my own lived experience, I am now an accredited Peer support worker. The IMH peer support training gave me a great foundation around principles of recovery. Learning how to apply these in a very acute environment can be hard. I have to remind myself that there will be steps backward as well as forward for both me and the patients! The feedback I get from patients is amazing, they are often really encouraged by the fact that I have returned to employment, and it often gives them hope that it’s possible for them too.

Some of the patients I work with haven’t even heard of the word recovery, and they are often unaware of the mutual benefit I get from talking with them, sharing stories and ideas, validating their experiences and providing them space to hear their story. They are all helping my recovery and I will always be grateful to patients for the mutuality of peer support that I get.

I work with a great team of people. They genuinely care so much about helping, and now, as a member of staff, I get to see just how busy everyone is, how many parts to the jigsaw of an inpatient admission there are. Peer support is a now a part of that jigsaw and I feel valued by everyone. They look out for me, and have welcomed me as part of the team. I will always be grateful to my colleagues on the ward who no matter how busy they are, they are always there for me too. Peer support works!

Clare Knighton

Peer Support worker, Worcestershire

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Clare Knighton – Peer Support – ‘You’re trained now aren’t you?’

  1. Excellent – Exactly the kind of mutually supportive atmosphere and teaching-by-being that we want.

    Thank you for sharing, and long may being a peer support worker be helpful to you too :)

  2. Cathy Stillman-Lowe

    The peer support model is a unique way of working, instead of having a “them” (professionals) and “us” (patients) divide. What I like is the way everyone seems to “win” by working in this way – staff and clients alike. Of course it cannot be a “free-for-all” as clients are inherently vulnerable when inpatients, but that’s where the value of proper training becomes apparent! I wish you well for continuing in this challenging but rewarding role.

  3. Cathy Stillman-Lowe

    It’s good to read such a concise but enlightening account of the unique win-win of peer support – both the supporter and the supported give AND get, so everyone benefits. It’s brilliant in that you have supportive professional colleagues too to back you up, as it can be a stressful place on the front line of acute psychiatric services.

  4. Thank you for sharing! I love the affirmation of being trained! What a beautiful reinforcement it must be to proclaim that you ARE equipped! Praying for your journey! I recently became trained in one state & unexpectedly have moved. Hoping to find placement myself. This brings me a boost of hope & encouragement to keep looking & applying. Thank you for all you do!

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