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Peer Support "Uncle" Russ

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Peer Support "Uncle" Russ

Russ Cowper is a member of our Public and Community Involvement and Engagement Panel and provides peer support to our Young People's Advisory Group.


Below he writes his thoughts on supporting the YPAG. 


Just before July 2022, I was approached by Aneela McAvoy (ARC-GM PCIE Manager) to ask if I would consider becoming a mentor to a brand new young persons group. Pat Walkington and Angela Ruddock were also asked and we met up with Aneela and Joanna Ferguson to discuss how to take it forward. I think we were excited at the prospect but also a little out of our comfort zone, I certainly felt that way, but in for a penny in for a pound was attitude.


We discussed how to pitch the initial meeting, bearing in mind we were all very experienced patient public engagement people and part of the wider ARC-GM patient and public panel. We came up with a plan, it must have worked as the YPAG are still with us, but I remember feeling a real depth of trepidation and nervousness before the initial meeting. If we had got it wrong, we could have lost our fantastic YPAG and they could have dismissed us as not understanding their concerns and underestimating their combined abilities. I'm pleased to say I think we as mentors got it right mostly as they are still with us. 


What's been a pleasure for me, is seeing the growth of them all in terms of confidence, they always had the ability and their knowledge and compassion whilst not surprising me has certainly exceeded my expectations. 


They really are a joy to be with and should be celebrated within the ARC-GM. They offer perspectives I would not have considered and that is the value of having an inclusive and diverse YPAG, they see things differently to us old ones, they are tech savvy and happy to work in today's world of social media. It's second nature to them, whilst me as a mentor still doesn't know how to use it properly. 


I had the real pleasure of introducing some of them at the Greater Manchester Accelerator event and they stole the show, they also charmed the Lord Mayor of Wigan and I was so proud of them. 


Oh and I should say your YPAG are the future of health research and I will endeavour to guide them if need be, not that they do anymore, I'm their friend now and being in their company is so enjoyable it makes me feel alive.


We have our "in jokes", yes Shuhaney you love cake!


Russ Cowper, May 2024. 

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