January 31st was an empowering eye opener of a day, the fruition of ideas from our From the Ground Up sessions which started back in September 2016. Our colleague and Peer Journalist Jeremy raised the important subject of dual diagnosis in our initial discussions. It’s something most of us have first-hand experience of and we thought we could create change by bringing people together. Now it’s transformed into a major article in last issue of the Pavement, a podcast and our Dual Diagnosis Action Day.
On the day we got together an impressive turn out of professionals and service user, a mix of people from different backgrounds, trying to achieve solutions to the problems presented. We showed them what we’d learnt and played our podcast, it was good to see people with big jobs in the NHS hearing direct from those of us who’ve lived some of these issues first hand. Following presentations from professionals and ex-service users we thought collectively in small groups about questions we could ask, knowledge we had gained and solitons we could enact. By the end of the day all the walls were covered in post it notes as people shared their expertise from different perspectives.
Our reflections on the day
None of us had really done something like this before and we felt really proud to have pulled it off – we got it together in the end! And really that was a big learning point for us. With effort you can achieve a lot and when you give people the tools they can make change themselves. And that’s not just a lesson for us. If you’re having trouble with drugs or mental health, don’t lose sight of what can be done.
It felt like a safe space where people, from whatever background, could share their expertise and experiences. There needs to be more of this sort of thing in planning services. One of the big learning points was how much we had in common. It was a surprise to find that many of the concerns in Jeremy’s article were shared by the professionals in the room in fact we had more in common than we didn’t. For us the biggest take away from the day was the positive tone and the feeling of “HOPE”. We need to remember that people do recover, relapse doesn’t have to be a crisis and change can happen.
So what will change?
As a group we came up with 50 different things which could make a difference. After debating whether we could just pull a guy faux take 2 and blow up the politicians we came up with 4 things participants committed to take forward in their lives and work. One group were really taken by Dual Diagnosis Anonymous and are going to work to make it more widespread; others are looking at getting better Psychologically Informed Services in hostels; plans for more joint working were made and info guides for people experiencing Dual Diagnosis are being produced right now.
And a final thought from Jeremy: “I was inspired by the day and the contributions made. My hope is that the commitments made as a group don’t get lost.”
The From-the-Ground-Up Team