UKSLTG have been working with Samutthãna to promote service user empowerment and involvement in Sri Lanka since 2014. The project has been led by Diana Byrne who has volunteered with the UKSLTG and Samuthana for over a five-year period to promote the Recovery College philosophy.
Diana Byrne has been involved with mental health services for most of her adult life - firstly as a recipient of care and subsequently as an activist for the promotion of the importance of incorporating the insights from the individual's 'lived experience' of treatment and its importance in the delivery of mental health services. She was a founding member of CUSER' - a group of people with 'lived experience' which was established to provide teaching input into the mental health nursing undergraduate and post graduate programmes at the University of Brighton for the past 25 years. She is also a founding member of the Recovery College in the Sussex Area and has maintained her commitment to peer support and learning from experience. She is also an instructor for Mental Health First Aid as well as a part time speaker at Salomons Clinical Psychology in Tunbridge Wells.
By drawing on her work in the UK, she has raised awareness of the Recovery College approach to health and social care delivery through bespoke workshops, focused presentations at conferences and informal discussions whilst on visits to a range of sites in health and charitable sectors in Sri Lanka. More recently, she has formed a planning group with UKSLTG and Samutthãna associated clinicians to keep up the momentum of her previous work in Sri Lanka and plan for the next stage of this project. She is currently developing a series of remote workshops and hopes to travel to Sri Lanka again to deliver fresh insights from the UK experience particularly around the problems created by the current wave of pandemics. She also hopes to work with Samutthãna towards establishing a Recovery College HUB in Sri Lanka around which support networks might develop.