Our Team is made up of Peer Tutors (people who have lived experience of mental health challenges) and mental health professionals. The team is ever growing and if you would like to get involved then please do get in contact.
Paul Wells – Acting Head of Recovery College
Firstly hello and welcome. My name is Paul Wells and I’ve been appointed as the Acting Head of Buckinghamshire Recovery College. I am, a Registered Mental Health Nurse by training and have extensive experience of working in Acute and Forensic Ward settings, Community Alcohol and Substance Misuse services and community adult mental health services.
I’m really excited and proud to be given this exciting opportunity to share my knowledge experience with students and staff in order to provide a College setting which will inspire and educate and build resilience, courage and fortitude.
I am hoping that the college will provide meaningful courses which will enable, empower and provide hope through empathy, unconditional positive regard and congruence to students.
The college is open to Service Users, carers, family members and professionals. I hope that the courses available will enable students to develop and forge a connection within the community setting where they live and re-establish their identity by their strengths, qualities, skills and assets and not be defined by their illness.
Recovery is a journey not a destination and with this in mind I hope that the college will be the guiding compass where students can learn to plan, navigate, learn and consolidate new and existing tools to help successfully navigate their journey.
Samantha Baxter – Recovery College Co-Ordinator (Maternity Leave starting Oct 2018)
I was appointed to join the team as Recovery College Co-Ordinator in November 2016. I have worked within the NHS for nearly 5 years and have been in many different administrative roles before joining the college. My role here is very varied but my main responsibilities are to support Carol Tough with the day-to-day running of the college and to work with new and current students to ensure that they get the best from their recovery journey with us. I am hoping I can draw from my personal and professional experiences to actively develop and facilitate courses that will benefit our students. I am so proud to be apart of such a wonderful team at Buckinghamshire Recovery College and the most rewarding part of my role is seeing the transformations our students and tutors are undertaking each day. Currently on Maternity leave until Oct 2019
Heide Peck- Peer Tutor
Hi everyone, my name is Heide.
My background is in Education, Person Centred Counselling and Residential Social Work, however it is my lived experience of Mental Health challenges that have brought me to the Recovery College, first of all as a student and as time went on as a lived experience tutor.
I have been a peer tutor since September 2017 and feel as passionate about the work we do, as I did at the beginning.
Signing up for one of our courses can be the very first step to re-connect with others in an environment, where stigma has no place, instead where sharing, learning with and from each other, creativity and connecting with others and self becomes possible again.
I feel privileged to be part of such a positive organisation, to be part of building solid foundations for this road towards recovery. Even the longest journey starts with a single first step. Recovery is always possible. I am looking forward to meeting you at one of our sessions and to walk alongside you for part of the journey.
Dawn Shirley- Peer Tutor
Hello everyone, I am Dawn, a lived experience Tutor. I live with anxiety/ depression and panic attacks which devoured my mind body and soul resulting in becoming wheelchair bound for a period in my life.
I look to help others through their journey and to offer support, care but most importantly education towards recovery, YOU CAN DO IT, I am living proof you can. “Believe”
Given the correct information, support and a committed and dedicated mind to recovery, you can do it too.
Katy Blunt -Peer Tutor
I am currently a Peer Tutor within the Recovery College. I have been working as part of the Recovery College since its start three years ago and have watched the college develop. I have experience of mental health problems and this is how I came to be a Tutor within the College.
I am an artist and have just had a very successful exhibition in Wendover for Bucks Art Weeks. Previously I ran art classes at the college with Tom Cox and others. I am pleased to say that I am presently involved in co-producing and co-facilitating the Introduction to Recovery College Course.
I have a degree in Theatre Design form St Martins College of Art and Design, London and successfully undertook masters at the Slade, University College London. I am also a qualified secondary school art teacher. I bring all these skills to work at the Recovery College.
Willow Hopkins- Peer Tutor
Hi, I am Willow Lived Experience Peer Tutor I have Mental Health Lived Experience of Psychosis & Addictions, spending 2 months in Whiteleaf stuck in an alternate reality. The tools I found within me for getting back to & remaining in reality are the same content as the courses I co produce & facilitate with Angela my Co Tutor.
All these tools from Nature & our own Bodies systems have been paramount to my ongoing Mental Health healing process, which I feel is a long, nonlinear yet rewarding journey. I am passionate that by individually embracing our own unique diversity of how we are all wired differently, that this has become my favourite tool & I believe once we understand how we work, we can find where we fit in & step out of our comfort zones. This has been my experience & I feel very fortunate working in this role & hope that we as a team help others to find this place within themselves know they are not alone & find ways to spark healing processes for themselves too.
Angela Thornton – Peer Tutor
I attended the Recovery College as a student whilst recovering from a mental health illness, this gave me a safe and secure place to learn about my emotions and find my own personal coping strategies. I have a background working in administration, counselling and addiction support services, specifically trained in group work. I also have a strong interest in self-development and spirituality.
I am grateful that I had the wonderful opportunity to become a Peer Tutor, initially on the Spirituality course in November 2017. I have since gone on to co-produce and co-tutor further courses on Benefits of Nature for Mental Health, Benefits of Pets for Mental Health & Understanding Emotions through Chakras. My role is very rewarding and has allowed me to learn and develop new skills. I am enthusiastic about working with others to help them manage their own individual recovery journey.
Charlotte Pardy MA- Yoga/ Wellbeing Instructor
I love being a counsellor in my private practice, and over time I felt we as a profession really need to understand and promote wellbeing in the connection between our mind, body and breath.
I have studied to be a yoga teacher for three years to do just that. My yoga courses invite you to come and explore this mind-body-breath link and how we can use this in recovery.
Maya Janecka– Peer Tutor
Sue Frankland- Volunteer
Hi, my name is Sue Frankland. I am 68 married with 2 daughters and 5 grandchildren. I have been in the mental health system for around 50 years having spent time in three hospitals. I was eventually diagnosed with bipolar 2 and have suffered many years of highs and lows, for which I have received excellent care. Sometimes this was twenty-four hours a day, and for this I am forever thankful to all concerned.
About four years ago, when staying at Centre Parcs, I became very keen at Ceramic Painting.
When I heard of the starting of the Buckinghamshire Recovery College, I offered to be the first volunteer peer tutor with lived experience of bipolar disorder, teaching students in ceramic painting. I took the first group of 14 students in October 2016 before the official launch in January 2017. Eight of those students became tutors, and most still are. I am also able to teach the basic skills of acrylics painting for beginners and have helped in the Safe Space Group. I completed the first Train the Trainer course. I was also privileged to have had the opportunity to study and pass the Level 2 Diploma in Mental Health Awareness.