I am delighted and honoured to have been appointed to the Board of Trustees for Manchester Mind. Manchester Mind do so much incredible work in the city and I have a lot to learn from the amazing team that have been steering the organisation to such success.
I will be bringing my own experiences of mental health, along with the voices and stories of the hundreds of people I have worked with in communities and prisons over the years.
Mental health troubles don’t always come via a diagnosis. Our mental well-being is impacted by life in numerous ways. Having worked in disadvantaged communities and prisons for the last 15 years I’m particularly interested in the impact of developmental trauma, as I’ve witnessed too often how trauma gets passed on, one generation to the next. Finding ways to put a brake on this toxic legacy and support the process of healing is something I feel passionately about. As leading trauma expert Bessel van der Kolk says:
“Child abuse and neglect is the single most preventable cause of mental illness. Being able to feel safe with other people is probably the single most important aspect of mental health; safe connections are fundamental to meaningful and satisfying lives.”
So I go into this role thinking of all the young mums I've worked with who are fleeing domestic abuse, and who are searching for a safe harbour so they can begin to deal with their own and their children’s distress; I think of all the clients who told me about their parents’ addictions as we worked to tackle their own - and how courageous it was for them to face the pain of all the feelings that addiction had put on pause; I think of all the children coming through the care system whose needs for safety and security were never met, and who remained haunted by the lack of a safe presence in their lives; and I think of all the young boys inside the big men I met in prison who were told to 'man up' as kids, and whose emotional potential was clouded in shame.
In short, I go into this role honoured to keep my clients’ stories alive and am excited to explore how Mind can continue to serve the people of Manchester in the broadest ways possible.
I feel the need to add a disclaimer; that the views expressed here are my own and are not the policy or strategic direction of Manchester Mind. I know this because I'm yet to attend a meeting so don't yet know the policy or strategic direction myself yet. So that clears that up then!