Hi, I am Becky and I am a 52-year-old NHS worker. When I was introduced to peer mentoring six years ago I had just put into remission my recently diagnosed T2 Diabetes. I attended a local health open day and gave feedback at the end, describing my frustration that I had never been given any help at all, my doctor having simply told me to lose weight and sent me away, scared and hopeless. Brigstowe picked up this feedback and invited me to train with them and help form the first cohort of T2 Diabetes peer mentors.
I had done my own health research, leading me to change my eating habits permanently and take up regular exercise, which I could never have imagined myself doing previously. I even started running half marathons! (It still amazes and delights me that I am running several times a week in preparation for the Bristol 10k in September, for which I’ll be raising funds for the Peer Partnership!)
The fact that I had had to face these challenges alone, with no help from health services, drove my desire to help others in a similar situation. Because I had started from such a low baseline I know I can help others motivate themselves to be more active, eat more healthily and interact effectively with health services, even when they feel there is no hope.
On my journey to better health I had learnt so much and changed habits of a lifetime. I also realised, however, that this journey would last a lifetime (after all, sugar, junk food and stress isn’t going away any time soon!) I would need the help and support of others to maintain strength for this journey and that’s what I get from my peers and service users. Every mentor meeting reminds me that we learn so much from the people we help. I have been overwhelmed by the courage and determination of people I’ve met along the way, each new mentee facing a different set of challenges to the last. The same goes for my fellow mentors and those who run the service. There is always something new to learn and share at every monthly catch-up, especially when we’re joined by a visiting expert. I hope to carry on learning and sharing for many years to come!