My experience attending the SUN groups were inspiring, uplifting and motivating. I could relate to other members in some way, and I felt less abnormal and isolated because I sometimes feel as though I’m consumed by my own thoughts and feel that my situation is worse than other people.
I was very nervous when I joined my first couple of SUN groups online. It was a strange feeling for me being on camera and interacting with others which can cause me anxiety at times. The staff and fellow members welcomed me with open arms and I’m so glad that I was determined to join the group.
When I started attending the in-person groups, I had the opportunity to meet some lovely and inspiring members, and I felt more connected to members and the SUN staff. I was so eager to meet everyone, and I had waited a while to start attending in-person groups.
I like the fact that there is the SUN phone, which is a phone that the SUN facilitators manage, and it gives members the opportunity to connect with other members who aren’t present in the group at the time. Sending messages to members and receiving messages from members gave me a warm feeling inside and it’s lovely to know that even if you can’t attend a group, members still care and think about you.
I like the fact that the SUN Project caters for everyone by holding virtual sessions twice a week and an in-person session once a week. This works well for people that might feel too low or overwhelmed to leave their house, and the in-person groups may work better for people that feel more comfortable connecting with others. I also like the fact that you can attend as many or as few sessions as you like, so there is no pressure to attend sessions if you are unavailable.
I feel the SUN staff really care about their members by ensuring that there are guidelines in place to keep all their members safe. I enjoyed participating in writing the group guidelines at one group that I had attended because we all respected one another’s views, and nobody spoke over each other.
All members are required to collate a crisis plan which is a personal document that outlines how we feel at present and includes coping strategies that can help us when we are struggling emotionally. We all have the group’s support to write this, and other members can ask questions to help ensure you have all the necessary information written on your crisis plan. This shows that the SUN Project tries to get to know their members very well which I valued a lot.
I hope the SUN Project continue to develop their services to support as many people as they can, it would be great if they could become a national project to support individuals across the UK, and I would love to work with the SUN Project in the future.
Service User Network (SUN) is a community-based support group for adults experiencing difficulties with complex emotional needs. SUN aims to empower people to problem solve their current struggles – emotional, relational, social, and practical, for more information on our service: https://slam.nhs.uk/service-detail/service/lewisham-service-user-network-sun-project-220/