Over the last two years, the Sharing Stories project has brought together representatives from Lancaster University, Makerere University in Uganda and Heartsounds, a Ugandan service-user led organisation.
The project aims to develop shared learning opportunities which promote mental health, both in the UK and Uganda.
The Tropical Health Education Trust (THET) has recently funded a project to explore the concept of recovery in Uganda and the role of peer support work in mental health. The sharing stories group which is made up of people who access and people who work in mental health services have been asked to be part of this work. The funding will enable staff and trainee representatives from Lancaster University’s Doctorate in Clinical Psychology programme to visit Uganda. The aim of the trip to Uganda, likely to take place in February 2015 for two weeks, is to facilitate ‘recovery listening events’ which capture the experiences and stories of Ugandan people who have experienced mental health problems. This exploration of what helps and hinders recovery will guide the development of training for peer support workers and mental health staff in Uganda and will be used to inform practice here in the UK.
We are looking for extra funding to complement the THET grant because we would like to expand the scope of the project and take individuals both from the UK to Uganda and from Uganda to the UK.
These additional funds would allow us to engage members of the UK public in the project, in a way which has not been done before.
We hope that the additional travellers will support us in building relationships with Heartsounds, helping to plan and facilitate the listening events by working alongside the existing group to listen to and capture Ugandan experiences of recovery from mental health problems. Engaging more people will allow us all to draw on and share their valuable experiences. We then hope to work together to plan training events to engage peer support workers and staff (in collaboration with Heartsounds and Makerere University staff and students). An evaluation of this training, amongst a broader evaluation of the peer support work, will be conducted alongside sharing of all of this learning through events in both Uganda and the UK.
We believe that it would be incredibly valuable to involve as many people from as diverse a background as possible in this exploratory ‘listening’ process, as this would improve the quality, relevance and impact of the work we can do.
This fits with the priorities and core values of the Sharing Stories project, which are to take a broad and flexible position to understand the perspectives of those participating in the listening events.