Students of the Recovery College often find a renewed satisfaction in learning, especially those affected by serious problems earlier in life, according to Matthew Burstein, the college’s administrator in Southwark, London.
The college is open to everyone; including St Mungo’s clients, volunteers, staff and the general public. By breaking down the barriers between students the college helps liberate those locked into the identity of being homeless and in need. The college is about equality and as long as the students bring a willingness to learn, it provides the rest.
The courses are designed to be educational rather than therapeutic, with the approach to recovery focusing on people’s skills and the future rather than their problems. Speaking with the Big Issue Online Journalists Matthew said: “The students set their own goals and the onus of attending the courses is placed upon them. People start to feel like valuable members of society when they start attending the college. This is because they start to feel like they are working towards achievable goals. This in turn starts to make them feel motivated.”
Some of the students that have attended the college have gone onto attend other institutions of further education and in some cases employment. Matthew says the aim of the college is not to push clients into education and employment, rather enable them to feel empowered enough to set and achieve their own goals. The college allows its clients to take part in any aspect of the college such as tutor, student or volunteer.
By promoting equality and focusing on people’s abilities rather than their problems the Recovery College creates a real sense of community and this is reflected in how previous students often return to St Mungo’s to run courses and workshops, or to share their skills and experiences as a volunteer.
Currently in its second year The Recovery College is funded by St Mungo’s, one of Britain’s largest charities supporting people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. To find out more about St Mungo’s Recovery College visit their website.