Welcome to the Western Mass Recovering Learning Community
The Western Mass Recovery Learning Community (RLC) supports healing and empowerment for our broader communities and people who have been impacted by psychiatric diagnosis, trauma, extreme states, homelessness, addiction and other life-interrupting challenges through:
- Peer-to-peer support & genuine human relationships
- Alternative Healing Practices
- Learning Opportunities
Essential to our work is recognizing and undoing systemic injustices such as racism, sexism, transphobia and psychiatric oppression.
The RLC is made up of PEOPLE (not places) and is wherever and however YOU and others from the community may choose to connect. Together, we offer a variety of events, workshops, trainings, advocacy and leadership councils, as well as a peer support line, three resource centers (Springfield, Greenfield, and Holyoke) and a Peer Respite in Northampton. Above all else, we create space for anyone who has a genuine interest in taking part in our community and holding its values to share and find connection, information, ideas and opportunities to make change in their own lives and/or the community around them. Our shared experiences and ‘humanness’ are what unite us. Our stories, collective wisdom and strength are what guide us and our community forward.
The Western Massachusetts Recovery Learning Community is funded, in part, by the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health, the United Way of Franklin County, and a variety of private foundations and donations.
Although we know it’s been slow going, we’re hopeful that we’ll make some progress with getting the RLC’s Greenfield Center back to fully usable early this New Year. We’re working hard, and in the mean time check out our calendar and all the groups and events still happening almost every day of the week!
The construction is almost done! Our group meeting room is almost ready for full use, the shower is almost ready for its first… shower, and we’re even almost done painting (well, the main rooms)! It’s taken us way longer to get to this point then we’d hoped, but we’re so excited to see the space really taking shape. Come check it out if you haven’t already, at 235 Chestnut Street.
As some may have heard, we are also planning a move for our Holyoke Center. Although there’s much sentimental attachment to the space we are in now (it was, after all, our very first center to open back in 2007), it’s just not as usable as it used to be. The elevator frequently doesn’t work, we’ve had problems with the front door access, and that along with some other developments have just led to the space we’re in not getting used as much as we’d like. Initially, we’d been thinking we’d try to move over the winter, but things are just a bit too chaotic right now, so we’re aiming for the summer. We’ll be looking for a space that is (ideally) a store front with easier access and hopefully more flexible space! Let us know if you have ideas about what you’d like the new space to look like or offer.
We're writing a new proposal for the RLC!
As of January 12, 2017, the Department of Mental Health (DMH) has released the Recovery Learning Community contracts for bid across the state.
What does this mean overall? DMH is saying that they will be funding 5 Recovery Learning Communities across the state (reduced from 6). Any group that is authorized as a ‘DMH Vendor’ (i.e., an organization that is able to accept DMH contracts) is eligible to bid on one or more of the RLC contracts. Each ‘bid’ most speak to how that group will use DMH funds and bring to fruition (or continue) the RLC vision.
What does this mean for us? The Western Mass RLC first became funded in the Spring of 2007, after the Guiding Council of Western Mass partnered with the Western Mass Training Consortium in 2006 to write a proposal for how they would develop and implement the ‘Recovery Learning Community’ vision.
Thus, this is really the first time since 2006, that we’ve been called upon to sit down as a group and explore questions like, “What has worked? What do we want to see moving forward? How do we want to respond to what DMH says are the key components of an RLC?”
OurVoicesRaised.org is a project supported by the Foundation for Excellence in Mental Healthcare’s Hearing Voices Research and Development Fund, partnered with voice hearers from the Western Mass RLC.
The fund has already sponsored the training of over 100 Hearing Voices group facilitators in 5 states across the nation. With 90 groups currently listing themselves on HearingVoicesUSA.org, the next phase of our project wants to answer the question “Why are Hearing Voices groups so useful for voice hearers?” That’s where the survey comes in.
If you’re a voice hearer, have taken part in a Hearing Voices group and are 18 years or older, please consider sharing your knowledge and experience. To learn more about it, check us out at OurVoicesRaised.org. There, you’ll find the survey and a brand new community created to provide a space for groups to network and for all of us to share our stories!