Spotlight on our services
September 28, 2011 1 Comment
What’s your project called?
Self Management Programme
Who is your project aimed at?
People living with or affected by HIV or Hepatitis C. The project is open to people of any age, gender, race or orientation. Many of the people who come to the project have used other services previously to no effect, they’ve hit rock bottom and feel that society has given up on them as much as they have given up on themselves.
What good does your project aim to do?
The project aims to put people in control of their lives, to give them the belief that they are more than their condition and to give them the tools they need to make positive changes in their lives.
How does it achieve this?
I achieve this through listening to the needs of the people I work with and being flexible enough to meet these needs. There is a mixture of one-to-one support and peer support through group work as well as life coaching. I focus on finding practical solutions that will work for the individual by concentrating on their strengths and showing them the tools and techniques that will help them move forward and change their behaviour patterns.
Trust is fundamental to the success of this project, I have to create an environment where someone can come in and be at ease with me and trust that I want to help them achieve what’s best for them, not what I perceive to be best for them. It’s not prescriptive, it’s like dancing and I dance the dance with them.
Why should we care?
Many of the people that I’ve worked with have carried their problems with them for a long time, most from childhood. Terrible things have happened to them, many were abused as children and they’ve developed “safety” behaviours to allow them to cope but for the most part these behaviours have ruined their lives. Society sees them as having no value and they see themselves as having no value. We’re all just one step away from a potential disaster, you lose your job, your house, your family…nobody wants to end up like that but it happens and it’s hard to turn it around.
I believe that everyone has the potential to change, given the right tools. Most of the people I work with have hit rock bottom and this project gives them the self-confidence to take control of their life again, to believe that they can add value to society. From a more fiscal viewpoint it’s the basis for getting people off of benefits and into the workplace.
What makes your project unique?
Flexibility makes this project unique. The service is tailored to fit people’s individual needs and works at their pace for as long as it takes. It’s about creating independence but recognises that we are all different and what works for one person may not work for another.
Give us an example of the difference it makes?
One person I worked with had just moved to the area, was HIV and HepC positive but couldn’t stick with the HepC treatment, was in a really bad place and had turned to drugs and prostitution. We started with one-to-one support and then they joined a peer support group and eventually trained to become a peer support mentor. They did some volunteer work and are now back in full-time employment. There’s so many stories like this! Of the people I’ve worked with in the last 18 months 15 are now applying to college or working towards it, 6 are in full-time work, 12 are volunteering, 2 women have regained custody of their children, 6 are abstaining from drugs and 3 from alcohol and 6 have started Hep C treatment.
How does it make you feel when someone’s life changes because of your project?
It’s beyond words! It’s what makes me get up in the morning (at 5.30am I might add!!) When someone first comes to the project I can always see through to their potential and to be able to make the journey with them to the point where they have the confidence to harness that potential is really amazing.
What would you like to see this project achieve in the next 2 years?
I’d like to see the project grow and spread wider in Scotland with perhaps another member of staff, it’s just me at the moment and I can only be in one place at a time. I’d also like to see more people that have been through the course become peer mentors (3 people have so far) and be trained as facilitators of peer support groups.
If I were to give you £500k to spend on this project what would you do?
I’d spend it on training more facilitators so that we could spread throughout Britain. I’d also train frontline NHS staff on the model.
The Self Management Programme is funded by the Long Term Conditions Alliance Scotland (LTCAS) and has just been granted funding for the next year.