The following are the benefits of joining and participating in UP House:
Engagement in productive, skill-building and meaningful projects and work units
UP House operates a wide selection of work units and projects so that members can choose work that is personally meaningful to them.
The co-ownership members have over the Clubhouse (please see Empowerment below) allows them to create the opportunities they need to learn the skills they want and use the competencies they have.
UP House empowers members in multiple ways. Members:
- Initiate new projects based on their needs and interests; the clubhouse develops in line with their ideas and leadership, and with trust in their ability to assume key organizational responsibilities;
- Co-direct the endeavours of UP House; members and staff work in partnership, as colleagues, and together make administrative decisions using a consensus model;
- Hold seats on UP House’s board of directors;
- Co-represent UP House with staff and board members when it liaises with and plans joint projects with other organizations;
- Are supported in accessing educational, vocational and volunteer opportunities and needed services in the greater community; and
- Are seen and treated as competent and capable.
Members genuinely feel more empowered given the confidence placed in them and the choices, opportunities, helpful information and support available to them at UP House.
Support from a community, an increased sense of community, a place to belong and friendships
It is difficult to risk taking empowering opportunities without first feeling safe, accepted and that one belongs. To be at UP House is to be amongst “allies”, people who advocate for each other and accept each other as intrinsically much more than their mental illness.
Members share in the experience of having difficult symptoms, being stigmatized, feeling isolated, and having challenges accessing needed services. This shared experience leads to levels of mutual understanding between members that can be both comforting and validating; as well, it likely inspires the widespread kindness and mutual support found at UP House.
Empowered members support each other in valuable ways, such as:
- Tutoring each other on a range of subjects;
- Facilitating the forming and running of new projects or workshops (for examples, see: Members’ Initiatives);
- Calling members who have not been seen at UP House for a while to ensure they are healthy, safe, and not isolated; to remind them that UP House is there for them and invite them to attend upcoming events. Please see our Outreach Project; and
- Sharing and publishing their personal experiences with helpful services and resources in the community so that others can take advantage of them.
With a true sense of co-ownership of the clubhouse, members also support each other by supporting UP House on an organizational level, by:
- Contributing their know-how:
- Repairing and optimizing UP House’s interior space;
- Committing their computer skills to improve UP House’s public relations and fundraising efforts;
- Offering their translation skills to produce all written communication in French and English;
- Voicing their perspectives courageously when in decision-making meetings with staff, board members and organizations connected to UP House; and
- Calling on their individual connections to donate goods and services.
Friendships evolve at UP House as they naturally do in groups where people understand and support each other, work together toward common goals and share in a sense of accomplishment when they are achieved. The genuineness of the community feeling at UP House is seen in the communities of support and friendships that start at UP House and thrive outside of it.
Onken and Dumont (2002) found that recovery is promoted by peer-support, empowerment/choices, being connected to others and engaging in meaningful activities that connect one to a community.