Five Questions with . . . the SC Women’s Peer Support Group

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Timaru resident Paulette Nicholas, who has started up a weekly peer support group for women in South Canterbury. The Monday meetings of the South Canterbury Women’s Peer Support Group are held at 12.30pm every in the Isabel Mayman Room at the Women’s Wellness Centre.

Q. Why did you decide to establish the Women’s Peer Support Group?

I decided to start this group after talking to women in the community who were either having mental health issues or just plain lonely.

I had seen a group like this in Christchurch and decided to start one here.

Being a recovering alcoholic myself, I have seen how talking with others really helps.

Peer-to-peer support is so helpful.

Q. What are the aims of the group?

We aim to bring people together to discuss their issues and for us all to help each other with ideas.

We have a couple of members who, because of anxiety, had hardly been able to leave the house for months and now, through pushing through the fear and coming to group, are able to do a lot of other things as well.

Once a month we have a guest speaker to introduce different methods of dealing with depression, anxiety [and other mental health issues] so we can pick one or more which we feel may help, such as mindfulness, Tai Chi, yoga etc.

Q. When did it start?

I started the group late last year but really got under way in February.

Q. Why do you think a group like this will be important for the community?

I feel it’s important for the community because there are no other regular meetings for women.

I feel the regularity of having it weekly helps give us a focus and we all look forward to the meetings.

We have quite a few ladies who contact us, wanting to come to the meetings, but through their own issues, feel fearful about coming along.

We have a Facebook page where we all interact but we’re really hoping these ladies can get through the fear and come along.

Also there are a lot of lonely ladies out there, without issues, who we’d love to see come along and meet new friends.

Q. Who is the group aimed at?

This group is aimed at women from 18 and over.

Current members range from 30-61.

You don’t have to have mental health problems to attend.

Everyone has struggles with life. It can be tough.

Just being able to share and help each other really works.

I can see a need for groups such as this for other things, which I’m looking at presently.