Holly Knapman is one of four peer support workers, and they are an integral part to the redesigned Living Well Centres (formerly Community Mental Health teams). This new role sees her with the South East team based in Brixton and some of the team are working remotely, but this may change after June 21.
“It’s been challenging but I am really enjoying it,” says Holly, who gets to work with people for up to 12 weeks. The team includes care coordinator, OT, psychiatrist, social workers, and support workers. The aim is that at the end of the sessions the person will be discharged to their GP. With its emphasis on empathy, the peer support worker role gives Holly the opportunity to make a quality of her own lived experience. “I feel I understand where the client is coming from. I was diagnosed with bipolar in 2012 and moved back to live with my parents (my dad is a GP). Having daily visits from the home treatment team and being in familiar surroundings with people I trust, I think enabled my recovery. Most mental health illnesses manifest as depression and I experienced this as a teenager.
“I keep myself well taking my medication every day and have close contact with my GP….”
“I have been supporting people mainly over the phone but haven’t met my clients face to face due to the pandemic. The main reason for people being introduced to the service is isolation and loneliness, which leaves people vulnerable and socially isolated especially during lockdown.
“I have mainly suggested journaling and meditation to my clients as well as the online sessions that Connect&Do (Certitude) runs such as laughter yoga, Arts & Crafts and connecting words.
“I found getting my thoughts out on paper really helped me to become less anxious and able to sleep better.”
“I want to inspire people. I want someone to look at me and say, “Because of you I didn’t give up.” – Unknown
Holly’s presence and contribution at our team meeting is fantastic, always insightful, and very important. Holly shares her lived experience in such a way that it does not leave her exposed but enriches our discussions and gives the team a different perspective when planning and formulating clients support needs.