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Derek Turner
25 December 2011

MAD SOLLES brings together people who acknowledge the learning that they have gained from overcoming or learning to deal with mental distress in their lives. MAD SOLLES stands for Making A Difference by Sharing the Learning from our Lived ExoerienceS.

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Over the last 18 months a group of people in Powys have been meeting to discuss how to best harness the learning from their lived experiences to:

  • Make a difference to the way professionals approach people experienceing mental distress
  • Help people to be better informed
  • Challenge stigma and discrimination in its various forms

In essence the approach has been one in which we have been exploring how people through involvement with MAD SOLEES can gain the confidence to find thier own voice.

The group formed following a Train the Trainer course (SOLE Training) that was run by Derek Turner and Amanda Wells within the brief of DIY Futures. At the end of the course the students wanted to consider how they could best use the training they had completed.

Derek Turner
21:25 on 26 December 2011

A number of ideas have been explored by the group. These have included:

  • Human or living library
  • Development of a modular approach to training
  • Targetting particular professional groups
  • Building on the successes of the PR Group at Ponthafren in North Powys

Human Library

Amanda has led a workshop introducing people to the concept in which the participants were asked to explore their own story against a set of questions as foollws:

  1. Think about a particular problem or difficult situation that you have experienced.  Then work through the following questions.
  2. What was the problem or situation?
  3. When did the problem happen?   
  4. How did the problem make you feel?
  5. What did you do to get through the problem?
  6. Did you get support from anyone else to deal with the problem?
  7. Was their support helpful?  Could they have done anything differently to be more helpful?
  8. What knowledge or experience do you have that helped you to get through the problem?
  9. What skills and qualities do you have that helped you to get through the problem?
  10. What was the outcome of the problem?
  11. Would you do anything differently in future to deal with a similar problem?
  12. What did you learn from the experience of getting through the problem?
  13. Have you thought about how you might share your learning with other people?
  14.  Is there anything else that you would like to say?

Development of a Modular Approach to Training

Feedback from the initial SOLE Training indicated that people were at different stages of thinking about how they might want to share their lived experience with others.

  1. Some people were still at a stage of wondering how their experiences might be useful to their own recovery, or to support a friend or relative with their recovery. It was agreed that there needed to be sessions developed that provided a more informal exploratory approach to training. These could be open to anyone.
  2. Some people who have already developed their recovery ideas and had practiced self-management as part of their recovery, and who want to share their learning with others, would want to participate in an accreditated train the trainer course.
  3. For people who already have training experience there is a need to provide support that would enable them to undertake more formal training in adult education.

Targetting Particular Professional groups

In this early phase the group identified a particular interest in working with the Police. Members had had both very good experiences and very bad experiences in the past. We were very fortunate to meet with a particular member of the Police who was able to share a personal experience of distress that was triggered off by an incident at work where he had been threatened by someone with a gun. He was able to descibe very vividly his own fight to regain his own confidence and to overcome predjudices within the Police Force that could easily have destroyed his confidence and his career. This sharing opened up a very fruitful dialogue betwwen members of the group who were able to share their experiences of how good practice had aided their recovery and how bad practice had compounded thier distress.

This experience led on to working with the Customer Services personnel to share knowledge about the use of telephone help lines within the management of distress. The Customer Service staff had become concerned about the number of people who were using the Police telephone help line to address their personal distress. They wanted to explore how they could be constructive with people on the phone but also how they could keep these contacts as short as possibe so that the lines did not become blocked. What emerged was that the Police personnel, who were untrained in mental health matters, were at their best when they reacted to the calls as fellow human beings rather than as pseudo-professionals.

Building on the Success of the PR Group in North Powys

The way forward for the group is currently being rethought and over the next few months we will be looking at how we can work more closely with Day Services in each of the local CMHT disticts in Powys to develop the programme in a way that is relevant to the individuals and what is already happening locally.

Derek Turner
12:08 on 27 December 2011

The Challenge for 2012

In the coming year the plan is to work initially with individual people to identify:

  1. what they have learnt
  2. who they want to share this learning with
  3. what skills or resources they will need to begin to share effectively

The second stage will be to put in place the resources required

Then, help with connecting the individuals to other people in their locality who have a similar or related goal

Finally, to facilitate sharing


Derek Turner
17:34 on 30 December 2011



Derek Turner
17:34 on 30 December 2011 (Edited 19:16 on 30 December 2011)

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joe kelly
11:26pm 2 October 2012

is  possible to disscuss these ideas with someone ?

Derek Turner
10:17am 3 October 2012

Hi Joe

Good to hear from you. Having retired I have found myself a bit on my own with these ideas and have not managed to develop them further. Very happy to discuss as they remain very much in my mind even though I have not found a vehicle for taking them forward.

I have gone back to basics since retiring and have joined a Peer Support Group where my main focus is to listem and learn.

Some time ago Richard, a friend of Peter's, did make contact with him. He was well but he gid not want to activate contact at this time. He remains on my conscience but I am still leaving it in his hands to make contact when he feels the time is right.


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