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Support Group: ACE Club, Ghajnsielem, Gozo

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What do we want? A Self-help and Support Group!

The aim of Pharos as an NGO is the empowerment of people who are overcoming life challenges and who have experienced difficulties with moods, thoughts or feelings. The intended result is a Recovery College where people can learn from their experiences.  In addition, they can inspire and draw support from others, to help recover meaning and purpose in life. the formation of a positive peer support group is one of the most effective ways of doing this is. A peer support group is a network of people with broadly mutual interests and knowledge who help one another.

A support group enables many to find and give help on a day-to-day basis.  People start positively drawing on experiences, as part of lifelong learning.  Social interaction, mentoring, coaching, resilience and self-awareness skills have a chance to develop in these settings.  As a result, people gain increased opportunities to make informed choices about their life and care.

How can we do it? Start taking control!

Before I came to Malta, I contacted Mount Carmel hospital to enquire about peer training opportunities. They told me that such a venture was some way off. The country was apparently not ready for such revolutionary practices.  I continued to work in London as a peer trainer while finalising my plans for emigration to Gozo.  I began my campaign on arrival in Gozo.  The main results so far have been this NGO and a lot of unrequited emails to government ministers and departments. Living here has had its ups and downs, but I have managed through skills, friends and family, plus appropriate medical professionals, to keep it together.  When things became too difficult, I sought help …

When do we want it?  Very soon!

I checked around and realised I had the options of (1) doing nothing, (2) getting myself hospitalised, (3) finding peer support, or (4) taking medication.  The first two options were not viable and the only Support Groups were connected to established organisations in Malta – the sister island – which was not an enviable prospect.  In the end, I saw a psychiatrist, who diagnosed Bipolar Disorder. As an accidental byproduct, I completed my I-Spy Book of Clinical Labels.  The doctor prescribed me Lithium Carbonate and Quetiapine – a heady mix.  The nearest thing to peer support available was the Saturday morning group at the psychiatric hospital. That was not a good choice!  So I soldiered on, supported as ever by my wife. She really could do with a break from all this …

Fast forward to summer 2017.  I have met someone who has similar experiences of services – or the lack thereof – and who wants to do something about it.  We are planning to start a Support Group called “ACE Club” in Ghajnsielem, Gozo. If you are interested, please get in touch through the contact PHAROS page or join our mailing list below.

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