Our “Welcome” sign, created by Group 2 graduate & Peer Mentor Lucy Watters
On Wednesday 13th March we held our third information session, for people thinking about taking part in the Epilepsy Futures programme.
We’ve found the best way for people thinking about making positive changes in their lives with regard to their epilepsy is for them to meet others who have already walked that path.
As time has gone on this has led to an ever growing group of people able to talk about the effect there has been on their lives from being part of a safe, supportive space where they can build new skills, improve their self-management knowledge and develop a sense of resilience in the face of living with epilepsy.
Our Wednesday started with the last laughter session facilitated by Sharon Miller of Joy Works, and the various silly games warmed us all up and settled nerves about meeting the five new people due to attend.
Inclusion needs to be a very conscious act – I am sure all of you reading this have gone to a new place and felt left out or ignored, or been too shy to speak to anyone.
Group 3 made a list of all the tasks needing to be done to help people feel comfortable, and volunteers signed up to do different things.
From welcoming people at the door, to showing them through to the room, giving them a name badge and chatting with them, we all played our part in trying to ease those nerves.
It was a packed room, with the current group, three peer mentors and five potential candidates, plus a couple of members of staff, but it seemed to be a very worthwhile experience for all.
The current group and peer mentors shared a little about why they had decided to take part in Epilepsy and what they personally gained from their time…
“I feel part of society again, and even though its taken 18 months from when I first came, I now feel ready to start a college course and update my professional qualifications” Peer Mentor/Group 1 participant
“You learn a lot about yourself and your epilepsy” Peer Mentor/Group 1 participant
“Epilepsy Futures sorted me out, gave me a routine and social circle” Peer Mentor/Group 2 participant
“I don’t think I would still be here if I hadn’t found out about Epilepsy Futures. It has changed my life and I would recommend it to you. Even though it takes time to get used to, being part of the group has changed my life” Group 3 current participant
The five new people seemed to feel very much at home and welcomed, and I will be meeting them in the next few weeks to discuss what they hope to get out of joining the next programme.
Group 3 have only six weeks left before their programme, and in that time we will be finishing off the online self management course “Epilepsy and you” at the Mitchell Library, learning more relaxation techniques, having some gentle exercise at Free Wheel North, and finding out about possible options for when the programme ends.
Epilepsy Futures Coordinator