Lenten Appeal 2015

Lent Appeal 2015
This year we are raising funds for Just Like Us, a mental health and addiction drop-in recovery centre in Glasgow. Just Like Us is based at Colston Milton Parish Church in one of the Church of Scotland’s Priority Areas and is open to all. In September last year, Rev. Christopher Rowe, minister at Colston Milton, visited St Columba’s and delivered an inspirational sermon on the theme of stewardship. His description of the life of his congregation and the challenges faced by the local community prompted many in the congregation to suggest that we find a way to support Colston Milton through the Lent Appeal.
Just Like Us is a drop-in recovery centre for people facing issues with mental health and addiction. The centre is open two days a week from 9.30 to 3.30 and is open to all. Participants follow a ten-week program geared to giving them the skills to challenge negative thoughts and behaviours, and rebuild self-esteem and confidence. Participants are helped to control anger, develop tolerance and patience, reduce anxiety and limit reliance on prescribed medication. Ongoing support is then tailored to meet individual needs, both through Just Like Us and other services. Educational groups use study materials and audio books developed from real-life experience, exploring relationships, reality and reactions. Sharing groups allow participants to talk through their day to day challenges and reflect on which techniques are most effective, while one-to-one sessions provide an opportunity to discuss issues people would rather not share with a group. The drop-in service provides valuable social time, reducing isolation and marginalisation and participants have access to a range of activities, including drama, art and creative writing sessions and community events.IMG_3905
Just Like Us was founded in 2009 by Lorraine Buchanan and Gerry Murphy in response to the need for a support system that helped people change the underlying destructive behaviours and thought patterns that led to addiction and mental health problems. As the program has developed, more than 50 participants from age 18 to 65 have learnt new techniques to improve their self-esteem and lead healthier, more sociable lives. Their comments give an idea of the impact Just Like Us has had on their lives
“Without the service I would have been dead, I now have the knowledge and skills to make choices in my thinking and behaviour and have a sense of being well”
“I feel as if the study material was written for me or about me and I now know what to change and feel better about myself and can feel the improvement in my physical health”
“This programme works if you work at it, I have stopped justifying my behaviour and don’t have as many headaches and feel better equipped to deal with life”

“This programme has given me the knowledge to not only help myself but to help other people”

The poverty and deprivation faced by the people of Colston Milton can have a devastating impact on their health and well-being. 37.5% of the population are income deprived; 16% are prescribed medication for anxiety, depression or psychosis; 5% of the population provide more than 50 hours of unpaid care a week; 99.3% live within 500m of a derelict site. On a personal level, Rev. Rowe described the community’s grief at the recent suicides of three young men. There is a great need for support, care and counselling for people struggling to cope.IMG_3907

Just Like Us operates on an annual budget of £10,000. Funding has been provided by various community funds, Lottery Awards for All and the NHS Health Improvement Fund. Just Like Us has also developed links with Strathclyde University, providing additional counselling for participants, and referrals are made to the program by Addaction and Help for Heroes.
Our support will allow Just Like Us to work with more individuals and to plan for 2016 with confidence. They hope to hire a program manager to free up more time for Gerry and Lorraine to develop the program and share the lessons learned with other mental health projects.
More information can be found at their website: justlikeus.co.uk
Catherine McDonald
Chair, Mission Committee