June 2016 - Dougie Pickering, service user
08 June, 2016
The meanings & learnings of experience (and life, not Monty Python style), and how we can all develop in our own journeys and still be an 'aid' to those around us, and to ourselves at times.
These ramblings are brought about as I head to the end of my Term of Office as Co-Chair of the Colleges UK Service User Forum, which is in effect, a Special Committee of Council. This is a group of wonderful, committed (though I shall resist mentioning names of the one that do need committed), and passionate people around Service User Involvement & engagement. It is a 30 strong Committee, and on a good day I like to describe it as 'being worthwhile Chairing a Committee of 'Activists', and on a poor day the narrative may change to 'Trying to Chair a bunch of bloody militants'. Have I enjoyed it? Oh yes, and I have also learnt a great deal, from my own acquired 'skills', to how others 'operate', and the joys of trying to work with the processes, egos & politics of the College.
By the end of my Term, I shall have completed three years & six months as Co-Chair, as I seem to have had an added sentence somewhere along the way. Actually, it was the (surprise) takeover of the 'job' in January 2013 that added to my time. Like all those elected within the College, you get a nice wee letter saying you were elected, and in my case it said 'from Congress'. And so, though gobsmacked at being elected (there were 5 five Nominees), I turned up to the January Meeting in the sure and certain knowledge that I had 6 months to 'learn'…. only to be told 15 minutes before the Meeting started that we 'were in the Chair' with me thinking that's not all I'm in!
I started my 'work' with the College with the Exec Committee in Scotland, and as I sat there quivering, I was at the same time hugely impressed with the knowledge, passion & commitment within (the sunken room) of the BMA in Queen Street. I thank each & every one of those members of the Exec, both past & present. You have all, one way or another, helped, supported and encouraged my involvement. I can only be pleased about that, and also pleased my own Consultant never turned up/became a member, as that may have caused me to run looking for another 'shrink' if I could find one in such a place.
From there, I was invited to join what was in those days, SURF, The Services User (&) Recovery Fora , and from there to the elected elevated Co-Chair, a hugely rewarding and fascinating experience (most of the time!). I did need the 'elevated' part, as I stand all of 5ft 5 (and a bit) inches, and at my size and age, all little bits count. I was for making changes (o the power), and one of the first changes was the Committee's wish to get rid of the word Recovery, as even back then, there was a feeling that it had been 'hijacked', not least by the political elite, and so it was duly struck from the name.
If, just if, I have any 'doubts', it would be around future Service User & Carer engagement by the College. For many years we/you were streets ahead of the other Colleges, but with all the massive changes in Prescot St, and personnel, I do have some fears that there may be changes afoot, be it to 'budget better', or to change the make-up of the way things have been previously done. I believe that would be a mistake.
I have been hugely honoured and pleased to have done the job in London, and it is/was done with the aid of those on Council (and other people on other bits). A huge thanks has to go to them all. But the biggest thanks has to go to all those in Scotland, who have aided, encouraged & helped me come forward on my journey. I'm an unsocial wee git at the best of times, hence why I probably got elected, as everyone knew I wouldn't be looking to grab the limelight and hear my own voice all the time, so well done.
Thank You all
Dougie Pickering - Service User
(and occasional Doctor when I am recorded wrongly on the Minutes of meetings)
PS Like all good Service Users, I of course reserve the right to change my mind at any time. Have fun, and keep up the good work!