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Student story: North Ayrshire Recovery College

My world fell apart early last year when my husband of 44 years died suddenly of pneumonia. Our lives had resolved around each other, and mine was empty. Family and friends were supportive, but they had their own lives, and I was spending too much time on my own, which was not helping my mental health. Then, a very good friend introduced me to someone who was benefiting from courses at the Recovery College in North Ayrshire. Courses are offered free of charge to anyone experiencing any mental health problems such as anxiety or depression, including grieving. I decided to investigate and got a timetable of courses.


As my first course, I decided to enrol for the Write 2 Recovery. Enrolment was easy. I simply visited the college at the Michael Lynch Centre in Princes Street, Ardrossan, was supported to enrol, gave my details and was given the date and time of the course.


On the first day, I felt a little anxious. Everything was new to me, and I didn’t know what to expect. I need not have worried. I was shown to the room where the welcome workshop was taking place, and there I found a group of 20 people sitting around a large rectangle of tables. The course was being run by a tutor and a peer volunteer – someone who has experience of mental health recovery as a student at the Recovery College.


My first course was Exploring Recovery. The workshop took the form of a discussion in which students talked about how they felt and what they had found helpful or unhelpful in their recent daily experience. The atmosphere was friendly and relaxed, and we learned about the CHIME for wellbeing, increasing connection, hope, sense of identity and empowerment. I left feeling relaxed and that I had found new friends. I attended the courses until the end of the summer term and enjoyed and benefitted from each session.


At the end of the summer term, there was a celebration in Saltcoats Town Hall. I felt very much part of it all and enjoyed the joyful atmosphere and sense of achievement from everyone. During this get-together, there was a display of the creations made by students who had attended arts and crafts classes, as well as performances by those who had written songs and poetry on their courses. The last of these was by members of the Drum Circle run by Drum4urlife, and at the end of it, I felt totally energised and happy. I have since joined the Drum Circle playing African Djembe drums, occasionally singing African songs and delegates at a conference in a hotel, which was well received. Some drums are available for use at the sessions, but I love this course and feel so committed that I have just bought my own drum.


I shall be attending a creative recovery course next and I bless the day that I was told about the Recovery College and also the friend who made it happen.


Elizabeth MacLean