28 Jun 2017
Richard is a 45 year old man who has been working with Partners in Recovery (PIR) over the last two years receiving support for his mental health as well as other areas of his life that contribute towards his wellbeing.
Just over 2 years ago, Richard reflects back, describing how he was struggling and was going through a very bad patch. “I was not doing well. I needed a lot of help and was struggling to manage from day to day”. It was during this period as he was receiving some support from another community agency that he heard of Partners in Recovery. Following being given information about the program and how it would help him, Richard made a call requesting for services. He described how at the time he did not know what to expect however felt that the information he had been provided with as well as what he saw on the PIR flyer encouraged him to make the call.
Following the intake process, Richard was allocated to a support facilitator (SF). Looking back, he describes these early days as a time he was building trust and having more understanding of what PIR program was. As he continued to work together with the SF, Richard highlights the relationship he was establishing with the support facilitator as an important part of his recovery process. Together with the SF, Richard started working on identifying what his goals were and the actions need to achieve these goals.
After a period of 12 months working with PIR and considering a number of options in regards to his long term goals, Richard decided to enrol into a Certificate III in Dog Behaviour and Training as this was one of his goals. Through voluntary work and also having a dog, Richard had been exposed to dog training however nothing would have prepared him for the course he was about to start. Richard remembers on the first day of the course when he was given the course work book which had hundreds of pages thinking “what have I got myself into? how will I climb this Mount Everest? ”. Looking back, Richard remembers how he made a decision to do all he could to make sure he would complete the course. “I just had to put my head down and slowly chip away at it”.
The course was very demanding with a lot of readings and assessments. During the course, Richard would learn and call upon numerous other skills required to complete the course. These included using computers and technology at an advanced level, establishing working relationships with lectures, students as well as staff at the college, using public libraries and approaching various people when he needed help during the course. Richard also recalls how he had to develop and use other skills such as public speaking, working under pressure together with problem solving to get through his course. At the time of writing this story, Richard had submitted all his assessment for the course and had passed all of them.
On reflection, Richard describes how completing this course made him realise how much potential he had and that he was capable of achieving goals he wouldn’t have thought he was able to. “Looking back on that first day, there is no way I could have seen myself completing the course however through hard work, I managed to complete the course. I realise I am way more intelligent than I thought I was”. Richard also highlights the role played by his SF throughout stating, “There is no way I would have done it without her”. He points out how the SF helped him with his with planning and goal setting, was supportive and encouraging and through care coordination, ensured that Richard’s other areas of needs were being addressed.
Richard also points out the help he received from the PIR program as very crucial to him finishing the course. Amongst other things, Richard was able to access the flexible funding through the PIR program to help with paying the course. He states that given his pension and financial situation, it would have been impossible for him to pay for the course and still cover his other living expenses.
When considering the future, Richard feels that completing this course has opened up numerous opportunities for him. Richard pointed out some of the opportunities he could explore such as opening puppy school, training individual dogs or being involved in programs that breed dogs that will be used in the police force.
Richard however states that his wish is to give back to the system. He feels over the years the health and social welfare system has supported him in various ways and he would like to give back to other people who also need the help. Richard states, “I took so much and it’s my turn to give back”. Richards’s goal is to start training assistance dogs that will go to people with disabilities. Richard feels assistance dogs play a major role in improving the quality of life for people living with various challenges.
On reflecting on this time over the last two years working with PIR, Richard states that being at his very lowest led to him engaging with PIR which has been one of the best things to happen. He states, “In the past I have always looked down on myself and focused on the negatives but over the last two years I have learnt to focus on the positives as well as my strengths.” Richard is so grateful of the support he receives from PIR and states that, “if anyone was unsure whether they should engage with PIR or not, I would encourage them to accept the program as it has opened up so many opportunities for me.”