This is a relatively new concept with just 40 such centres now in operation. The Bradford initiative will be piloted in the South Bradford area, covering a population of around 30,000 people. Named “Restore Recovery College”, it will be the first in the district and one of just a handful elsewhere in West Yorkshire.
The college will open its doors on Monday, June 3, with classes to be held across two centres – The Gateway community room in Dudley Hill and the Highfield Health Centre in Procter Street, Off Tong Street.
There will be a timetable of courses and activities, ranging from life skills like Managing My Anxiety and Stress; Budgeting Skills and Money Management; Body Confidence; and Building Confidence and Self-Esteem, to more creative sessions like Craft for Wellness; Yoga; a music group; and many more.
The project will be co-ordinated by social enterprise Healthy Lifestyle Solutions CIC on behalf of Community Partnership 9 BD4 which includes three GP practices - Rooley Lane Medical Centre, Tong Medical Practice and Bowling Highfield Medical Practice.
Dr Angela Moulson is a GP at Tong Medical Practice, clinical lead for mental health with the NHS Bradford District and Craven Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and a member of the Recovery College Steering Group. She said: “Setting up a recovery college in Bradford is the next step in an exciting journey to improve some of our local health and social problems. Our local community has helped to devise the content of the courses we are offering and we would like to enrol 100 people for the 12-week pilot course which starts in June.
“Here in Bradford we have excellent relationships with, and support from, Bradford Council, Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust, the Police, voluntary and community sector organisations and our GP practices. We believe that a Recovery College will be an important addition to the services offered locally and will help people recover from mental ill-health through improved relationships, education, work and financial management.”
The idea came from a sub-group set up to look at ways of tackling social isolation which has been identified as a growing problem across the UK. The focus is on “bringing recovery local” so that students attending the college make new local friends, which leads to better social integration and reduces fear in the community.
Classes will be run by experienced tutors and supported by a number of partner organisations such as Bradford District Care Foundation Trust (BDCFT), support organisations Credit Union, New Directions, Mind and Cellar Trust.
Of equal importance, there will be a number of opportunities for peer-led programmes, delivered by students who have attended and feel empowered to share their own valuable experience. Volunteers are being sought to get involved with supporting these sessions.
Recovery College Co-ordinator Julie Wakefield said: “Recovery College is a deeply personal, unique process of changing one's attitudes, values, feelings, goals, skills and roles. It is a way of living a satisfying, hopeful, and contributing life even with limitations caused by an illness.
“Basically, it is about the individual being at the centre of their recovery and the long-term aim is for students who feel enabled to then deliver some of the programmes themselves, as we know that peer-led activities are much more valuable and credible”.
The first big opportunity to enrol will be at a launch day on Thursday, May 23, from 11am - 2pm at Highfield Health Centre, which will feature a number of stalls providing information and activities.
Students can select the courses of their choice but will also be given an assessment on enrolment to ensure they get the maximum benefits from the opportunities available to meet their particular needs.
The initiative is NHS funded, using CCG Community Partnership funds allocated to their priority area of tackling social isolation, with match funding from Healthy Lifestyle Solutions CIC and other partners.