THE success story of a Support in Mind Scotland volunteer, Mo Connelly from Dumfries, was mentioned in the Scottish Parliament during a lively debate on volunteering and self management. 

You can watch the debate on YouTube by clicking here

The debate followed a motion raised by Joan McAlpine, MSP for South Scotland calling on the Parliament to acknowledge “the contribution of volunteers across Scotland in raising awareness of self-management”.

The motion, which received cross-party support, also called on the Parliament to recognise that  “third sector organisations support many formal and informal volunteering opportunities for people with long-term conditions which has “resulted in social benefits, including social connectedness and improved employment prospects.”

Ms McAlpine’s motion raised awareness of the “continued investment through the £2 million per year Self Management Impact Fund, which is run by the Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (the ALLIANCE).

The fund has reached almost 21,500 people and created 107 jobs and 622 volunteering roles, and while there are many excellent examples of its success across the country, Ms McAlpine used Mo’s story as an example of a positive impact.

She told the Parliament: “Mo Connelly is a volunteer with Support in Mind Scotland in Dumfries. She was nominated in the inspirational person of the year category at this year’s self-management awards. Mo has a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder, and with the help of Support in Mind she learned about her condition and about techniques for managing her symptoms. 

“Once Mo was in recovery, she felt that it was important that others with a similar diagnosis should benefit from the support that she had received. With the help of Support in Mind, she began raising awareness of the condition, helping others to find sources of support and how to use self-management techniques, including by briefing health professionals and social workers on dealing with the condition."

“Mo says that volunteering is an important part of her own recovery
  • Joan McAlpine, MSP for South Scotland

“Mo says that that volunteering is an important part of her own recovery. She has registered as a member of the alliance so that she can contribute her experience to benefit others with a bipolar diagnosis. She is also developing a peer support group and training with the wellness and recovery college in Dumfries.

“Mo’s story shows that reciprocity is an important aspect of self-management. People who have been supported by volunteers or peer workers are often inspired to volunteer themselves”

She added:  “Self-management has some truly positive impacts. However,  there is sometimes a lack of understanding of what it means. That can be true among health and social care professionals—not all of them, but a few—as much as among the wider public.

“The great shame of that is that effective self-management can keep people well and ease pressure on national health service acute services, for example by reducing unnecessary admissions. A modest investment in self-management and its volunteers can save considerable sums of money in other areas of care.

“We need to keep investing in and promoting the self-management fund. We must also invest in peer support roles, both voluntary and paid, bearing in mind the fact that mentors have their own health to manage. The alliance’s self-management network will help with that, but we all have a role to play.”

Jamie Hepburn, the Minister for Sport, Health and Improvement and Mental Health, said: “I join other members in thanking Joan McAlpine for bringing the debate to the chamber, and I thank colleagues for highlighting the exceptional work that is under way across Scotland to draw on and maximise the assets that our people bring to their health and care.

“It is hugely important to rise to the challenge of supporting and enabling people to be in the driving seat of their care, as it has been put.

 “This debate has provided an excellent opportunity to acknowledge the vital role that is played by volunteers, the impact that we are already seeing for those who are effectively enabled to be the lead partner in their care and the successes of third sector co-ordination organisations such as the Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland in changing lives across Scotland through supported self-management.”

You can read the debate in full on the Scottish Parliament website, by clicking here

For more information on the ALLIANCE, click here


(Images © Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body – 2012. Licensed under the Open Scottish Parliament Licence v1.0)