Behind all collectives, there are always individuals, with individual experiences that have led them to join and fight discrimination as part of a wider group. One Peer Support Worker in Birmingham is sharing what initially appeared to be an exciting opportunity to one that became a harrowing experience.
PART ONE…… MY GRANDMOTHER
I was trained by (A Birmingham NHS Trust) as a Peer Support Worker. I first heard the term PSW/Advocate in 2014 while an inpatient at the (Worcester NHS Ward). I was excited when to be released from “Red Neck County” the ward managers words not mine to learn how to become a PSW for (Birmingham NHS Trust). To my dismay and bewilderment there wasn’t such a post. I attended meetings and asked questions until finally here I was applying for a place on the course.
For me looking back now it was just what I needed. It was a sort of therapy, sharing stories in a room full of people with similar experiences. Plus, training for the opportunity to help others who have felt lost and hopeless was both exciting and scary. The course wasn’t easy by any means, Peer training was accredited with the Open University, Certificate level. The only obstacle we faced was the assignment at the end of the course, many of us out of education for many years. I breathed a sigh of relief when I got my mark and passed, finally I was a step closer to becoming a Peer. A chance to help others struggling but also getting the support to manage my own wellbeing what could go wrong?????
I wasn’t long in my role when the then Peer Supervisor asked me if I would like to share my story with the board. I felt honoured to be asked it was going to be doubly special for me because the date set was my daughter’s 10th Birthday. I did consider rescheduling but a couple of hours out of such a special day was poignant. I was in hospital on her 4th birthday, I spent most of that day crying so to share my journey so far was an indescribable feeling. On the actual day I was so nervous I spilt coffee on my clothes while waiting. The room was full it was quite nerve wracking… I was offered the seat next to the Chief executive. The Deputy gave me a warm smile, this was the top of the chain.
I began my talk with my Grandmother’s story who came to England as part of the Windrush Generation, bringing with her 5 children and a husband who as soon as he reached British shores disappeared leaving her alone in a foreign country….. A baker by trade she trained up as a Nurse and became a well-respected Senior Nurse for (a Birmingham NHS Hospital) and then a Health visitor in her Local area helping a lot of underprivileged families and their children….. Now here I was with tears streaming down my face a Proud Peer working for the same NHS as my Grandmother making a difference in Birmingham where I was born and bred. The meeting concluded with the promise of 100 more trained PSW for (the Birmingham NHS Trust). I left feeling excited a promise of more peers definitely meant career progression……….
Read Part 2 here: