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Letter about "Recovery" by Peter Strieb Griebling

Dear Readers, when the ‘America’ organisations idea of ‘Recovery’ was first mooted I was all for it. I spoke up at conferences and Local meetings supporting the idea. For older members of the system like me who remember our first incarcerations in big old Victorian ‘bins’; I wished someone had said to me then, once back in the then new idea of ‘care in the community’, “How’s your Recovery going M?” Then it was very much, “This is how it is for you M, this is your life now”. You see why I was so enamoured with that question is that someone is really saying to you and making you think “Hey, this person thinks I can actually get better”. The point is ‘Recovery’ was now mine to work on and to deal with. However no sooner do I have MH services and Users have something of their own, than people came along seize and hijack the whole idea to suit their own jobs and agendas or tick boxes. Recovery for people often who’ve experienced some of the most traumatic episodes anyone can have in life is something one must be given time to work through and have the freedom to do in ones own time, people will re-engage when ready. The governments Recovery Document Model to which Local Authorities up and down the country are working to, all reads great for those who want and can ‘move on’. Day Centres are now only working and being set up for those who a lot of commentators now call ‘Great Britain Plc’. For instance and I quote from out Local Day Service Contact Dec 2004; “Up to 15 registered service users will use the service for a social benefit. This will be closely monitored so that a drop in service does not develop” and “achieve a move on rate of at least 90% of service users where possible, within 2 years of entering the service to reintegrate into the community”. So nice isn’t it that people, for instance who Doctors have told (statically if you have schizophrenia only 5% currently work) “you need as stress free environment as possible to aid your recovery”. The flaw in the Government Recovery Document Model is that many have tried and failed to fit into the Gt Britain Plc idea. (Personally after my initial breakdown in 1971 after Polytechnic I’d already tried all this working and got married for over 20 years taking on my wife’s 3 children from a previous marriage and finally ended up jobless, divorced, in hospital, discharged twice, homeless in a year and my latest doctor telling me I’m now physically ‘burnt out’ “ You’ve worked so hard you will never work again”. So for people like me exactly given our Local Authorises Day Care policy belatedly discovered under the ‘Freedom of Information Act’ and kept hidden from our User Group ( and mentioned as a stakeholder in the Local Day Services contract) for over 3 years where am I and people who will nerve fit into Gt Britain Plc ‘move on’ to? Answer: Isolated and back to our flats and bedsits! And then probably totally depressed, back in hospital to start the whole cycle again. Local Government Officers in L.I.T meetings have the nerve to say to us that they want to see ‘outcomes’ well for a start you cannot demand an outcome of someone with a mental health problem to suit you. Besides just look at us; life as it’s set up has dealt us our outcome for all to see, thank you very much. Just leave us alone, please; to ‘Recover’ in our own time with our friends, when you do provide Day Centres for old People and other Disabilities and yet pressure us to move on to jobs that even our well companions and friends can’t find or live on as wages are now so low unfortunately having been encourage and depressed by the latest wave of inward migration. Perhaps as a last thought you might all like to consider this, why is it local and government ilk have no problem with people: who many are working so hard to emulate anyway, who sit on the Costas with sun, sea, sex, sand and sangria often through ill gotten and dubious gains and in many professional’s own wards say about us ‘doing nothing’. Yet have a big problem with us, most of whom given a level playing field would work but who effectively have nothing except that in our doctors own words we are “long term ill”. They never say about those types, “we need to move these people on!” of course the one thing we do have in common with them is both groups are often and usually drugged up to the eyeballs! Well there you have my ‘Recovery’; now once again Conditional to the demands of others, who purport to care for us but in the end just wish to impose their will on us. The fundamental question therefore facing us and society as a whole, “care or control?” “Gt Britain plc” or the ‘United Kingdom’?

Peter Strieb Griebling