I joined Andover Mind in 2019 and was recently co-opted as a Trustee in January 2020.
I was born in Worcester and grew up in Cheltenham, having spent stints in Leamington Spa, Glastonbury, and Portsmouth I now live and work locally in Andover as a health and safety professional. As part of work I am involved with the Institute of Safety and Health (IOSH) at branch level and a member of the Institute of Industrial Accident Investigators.
I have always enjoyed volunteering and supporting causes I am passionate about, including positions at Oxfam and the Warwickshire Police’s Criminal Investigations Department. I have a strong belief in the value of proactive mental health management and well-being strategies, believing that often as a society we leave it too late before seeking support with our mental health
I see the value that the workplace can bring by contributing to active engagement with mental health and well-being, believing that personal development and growth opportunities at work are fundamental to our wider well-being. As a member of the University of Portsmouth’s alumni community I have also supported the Faculty of Business and Law by offering my time and expertise to enhance the student experience and preparation for their future careers.
In my spare time I enjoy Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, cooking (I have an ‘award winning’ vegetarian paella) and brewery tours- providing there is sampling at the end.
Many of the staff in Andover will only know my face as the woman that comes in, looks like she knows her way around the building and knows where to get a cup of tea. The staff that I worked with are now few and far between.
I started work for AM in 1998, 2 hours twice a week, as an admin assistant. Gradually as more hours became available, I worked longer, and then over time took on more responsibility. I became the admin who had an assistant.
I took on a wider business based role with special responsibility as PA to the then CEO, and worked as administrator to the trustees.
Around 2008 I took on a full-time role as Business Administrator. I worked alongside my HR colleague, Karen Ashley Brown; we often joked that Karen looked after people and I looked after “stuff”… purchasing of IT ( and liaised closely with those who knew how it worked ! ), alarms, furniture, building maintenance and such fun things as how to un-block a sink or a toilet. I knew the boilers intimately and could often be seen bleeding radiators.
I joined with no formal training, or at that time interest, in matters of mental health, my job was admin, but working alongside well informed and passionate staff soon rubs off. The names by which we refer to our service users has changed over the years ( from clients ) but they are where I learnt most, these are the experts in mental health.
There was one young man who came to the centre, that as a relative “newbie” frightened me. His support worker introduced him to me and he was as frightened of me as I was of him, he was painfully shy and always looked so dower. After that he would always smile and say hello, so sweet and polite, the opposite of what I thought. You learn not to judge.
I threw myself into fundraising and enjoyed both the small and the grand events. There was a great team of people, many who had been part of AM since it was first formed as a lunch club in a church hall. How many pennies have I bagged up for the bank, how many times have I moved the furniture around in the main room at AM, how many service users that I’ve known have we lost through a variety of reasons. I may not have arrived at AM knowing much about mental health but I left a lot wiser.
I left in 2013 to go to work with my husband, to implement a raft of new EU regulations in the steel industry, and to look after the HR for our Andover branch. 2 years later we took early retirement but in all that time I have kept in touch with AM, with friends and colleagues and all the challenges that still present themselves to do with mental health service provision.
In 2018 I was asked if I would like to join the trustee team and am glad to be able to use some of my old knowledge and experience, but continue to learn and face the road ahead.