Poem by Jenny

Come share with us
You’ll be safe
Pull up a chair
And claim your space

Part of a poem composed in Sound Minds yesterday, SA Hearing Voices group, by peer worker Jenny Benham.

I was very involved in supporting this group for a couple of years, but last year I found myself in a place where too many projects were taking off and needing a lot of time and attention, and I had to make hard calls about what to take a step back from. This one became one of those I stepped away from because there were other awesome facilitators involved to support it, whereas projects like the DI Inc would die if I let them drop. I’ve also had to make difficult decisions to limit the amount of volunteer work I do each week and put some deliberate thought into supporting myself and my family, and unfortunately my hearing voices work was never and is unlikely to ever become paying work. Nonetheless, I love this group and will always have a place in my heart for it. I didn’t start off being a facilitator at Sound Minds, I initially turned up as a lonely, angry person struggling with homelessness, caring, and a life in crisis. Sound Minds became the turning point for me.

Later, I spent a lot of time looking at what worked about the group, and why it worked, to use the underlying principles of respect, safety, acceptance, and recovery in building other groups like Bridges and Blue Skies.

So, it was great to go back and connect again. Jenny and I are both going to the International Hearing Voices Congress in Melbourne next month. We had a great chat about what’s going on in that world lately, and I shared my excitement about the resources Rachel Waddingham has been creating and sharing online in the Intervoice Facebook group. See some of them here. Rachel and I were talking online and I was lamenting how difficult I’d found it to create resources like that here, with no funding, lots of bureaucracy, and little support. She was suggesting brilliant ideas like utilizing our vast networks of people to share flyers instead of relying on services taking us seriously and doing it for us. It was an inspiring conversation. I regret that I’ve had to let work in this area drop, regret that I couldn’t do more. And I’m frustrated that those being paid to represent us are often far less passionate and enthused than we are. Perhaps if I can keep the DI running we can nest some resources under that organisation? I don’t know, I can only do so much. It will be so good to go to the conference and hang out with a likeminded group of passionate advocates, working without money or resources or recognition but with a painful awareness of need is a tough place to be in. It’s good to be part of a wider community.

I appreciate hearing from you

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