Enabling hope and recovery through digital connections

Dave Alldred is based in the Penumbra Western Isles service and he’s awesome. He’s a brilliant writer and super passionate about the value of peer support. In this article, Dave talks about harnessing the power of technology to keep connected during the coronavirus pandemic. Check out what he has to say below.

Staying connected to others is always a key element in keeping well mentally and emotionally. Now that coronavirus has restricted our options to achieve this, it is perhaps more important than ever that we all dedicate ourselves to finding innovative ways to do so. As well as continuing to support people 1:1, we at Penumbra believe that peer support also remains vital, to ensure no one is alone at this challenging time.

This is why, on the 16th April at our usual time of 2pm, we held our first Hope and Recovery session using Zoom. This conferencing platform allows folk to meet up virtually, by audio and video. I was delighted to see and talk with all those who attended. Yes, I think sharing the same room is better, and I look forward to that happening again. Listening to ‘Radio 4’s Inside Health: The Virus’ recently, an expert pointed out the advantages of face-to-face support in the same room. However, the current situation makes that impossible just now, so creative problem solving must be something we embrace. Even more than usual, I was inspired by the compassionate, mutual support on show at our remote session.

I felt I was part of something special and my hope is that this will continue.

Hope & Recovery is a peer support group that has been helping people in the community for 7 years now. My stimulus in co-creating this group, was to provide peer support in a safe, community setting that would, hopefully, help people to avoid crisis or acute admission. (I was actually inspired, in part, by the peer support I experienced as a hospital patient many moons ago.)

The group wrote the guidelines, which place an emphasis on respect, confidentiality and non-judgemental listening. Many of our early group members have now moved on with their lives. They no longer require this service, but have expressed how essential it was in their ongoing recovery journeys. They also know they remain welcome in the future. One group member, Angus, who has worked incredibly hard on turning his life around, is now our peer volunteer and my co-facilitator.

Since relocating to An Lanntair’s community room a couple of years ago, the group has welcomed many fresh faces. Group members have forged friendships and supported one another in a safe environment. We continue to welcome new group members, so, if you think now might be the time to be a part of the Western Isles Hope and Recovery peer support community, please get in touch with one of the team. We know that not everyone is keen or able to access the necessary software, but I am happy to talk it over with anyone beforehand. For example, some folk might choose to attend by using audio, but not video. Staying connected is the priority and we are keen to support people to achieve this.

Dave Alldred is a Peer Recovery Practitioner from our Penumbra Western Isles NOVA service. You can follow Dave and the rest of the team at Penumbra Western Isles Wellness Services.