What is the Making Sense Of... Podcast again? 

Our work at Foundation for Change is all about helping people make sense of their life experiences themselves. We do this by teaching and exploring different theories and ideas drawn from psychology, philosophy and social history. We help people develop a more ‘systemic’ or bigger picture perspective of their lives by supporting them to understand the many and varied forces that shaped them: difficult experiences in childhood, their families, the environments they grew up in, the society they grew up in and continue to live in, and more. The bird’s eye view they develop helps people understand why their lives turned out in the ways they did, helps people understand why they may have made certain choices or done certain things, and helps people let go of a lot of the stigma and shame they may carry about their pasts.

The Making Sense Of… Podcast is our way of bringing our work and approach online in an engaging and stimulating way. Easily accessible via Spotify, Apple Podcasts, YouTube or the FfC website, podcast episodes are released fortnightly on a Monday. Each one includes the FfC team discussing a particular theme, sharing how it relates to them and how it has helped them. Each is also accompanied by a handout that is easily downloaded in PDF format or viewed as a webpage on the website. Links to relevant movies, articles and documentaries to deepen the learning of each topic are also provided.

Within each fortnightly period are four private 75 minute Zoom seminars hosted by members of the FfC team that people can book onto via the website. The seminars provide a space to continue the conversation of the podcast episode – participants get to talk about how the topics relate to them, hear others’ experiences of the topic and through both of these, feel connected to other people. There are two seminars each week, all at 11am to 12.15pm, on Wednesdays and Fridays. The first three seminars relate specifically to the relevant podcast episode; the fourth is an open space with no agenda where the sole purpose is of coming together and connecting with others.  

Who is it for?

The Making Sense Of… Podcast programme is not suitable for everyone. Criteria are below but we would also suggest listening to an episode or two of the podcast yourself to help you decide whether to refer someone to it or not.

It is for:

  • People in early recovery who are either abstinent or on a stable amount of substitute medication.
  • People who would ordinarily be in early recovery, and engaging in structured groups/aftercare/ETE.
  • People who have a capacity to engage with the topics and, if wanting to attend the seminars, are comfortable discussing it and talking openly about themselves with peers.
  • People who have an appetite for personal development, who want to develop a healthier relationship with themselves and with others.
  • For those wanting to attend the seminars, access to Zoom is crucial – either via a mobile phone, a personal computer or a tablet. There is a separate seminar guide available on our website that provides information on access and some basic guidelines (eg. ensuring they attend seminars within a private space to maintain the confidentiality of others; keeping their camera turned on to have a presence in the Zoom group).
  • Basic IT skills are useful or a willingness to develop some basic IT literacy. We are happy to provide initial support on things like downloading Zoom, accessing the podcasts, and booking and attending seminars, with the aim being that participants continue to do this themselves.

Why do we think it could help?

At this time of services not being as open and accessible as before and everyone having to limit social contact, we believe that the Making Sense Of… Podcast offers something valuable that service-users can easily plug into. The topics discussed very much relate to the situation we find ourselves in with Covid-19 and offer a way for people to help make sense of their responses to what is going on. Mental health and addiction are isolating, they are experienced by people often isolated by society and now they are having to socially isolate because of coronavirus. The podcast programme provides a space where a group affected deeply by isolation are able to come together and meaningfully connect.

How do we think it could help?

We have been running the programme since May and the feedback has been impressive. One person said: “It helped to identify my feelings, what I’m going through and being able to say that’s ok. I found that important. It gave me a voice and words to put to those feelings”. 

We’ve seen participants gaining a greater understanding of their emotional responses to Covid-19 and  increased compassion towards themselves and others. Many have talked about how much they appreciate having a space to come together and process not just emotions but politics, history and culture – and generally just have ‘meaty and decent conversations’. Others have talked about feeling an increased sense of connection to others (notable in a context where the online element can feel impersonal and disconnected); and improved digital literacy. 

What happens next?

  1. If you like the sound of what you’ve read so far, it’s probably a good idea to check the podcast out yourself as a first port of call. This will help you understand the format, the feel, and give you a sense of some of the practical aspects like where it is on the website, how to book seminars and so on. We are very clear at FfC that the topics we explore relate to us all, not just people in recovery – so you might enjoy listening to the podcasts yourself and will hopefully take something from them and the handouts.
  2. If you have specific individuals in mind, think they would be suitable and would like to refer them, please fill in the very simple referral form and get it back to us. We need to collect basic data of everyone attending but have tried to keep the referral process deliberately easy.
  3. Once we have received the form, the person can either start accessing the programme themselves if they feel confident with the tech side of things, with them initially reading the Orientation Document available online. They will receive the Zoom link once they have booked online. Or if they need a little extra support, we can send you the orientation doc, ask you to book online on their behalf (to receive the Zoom link) and/or give them some support to access it ourselves.

That’s it! To keep things simple, we will be using the same Zoom link but still request that people book online as places are limited (15 to the episode-related seminars, 20 to the community morning).

Download this guide as a PDF here. The referral form is available here

Please contact Tonya Connor ([email protected]) for any questions.