Meet our volunteers

Liz Rotherham

My name is Liz Rotherham. I have been using EPUT services since 2003, after I was diagnosed with bipolar and sectioned in hospital. Living in denial for years, it took me a while to find myself, but when I did I decided to help others and get involved with the Trust.

I signed up as a volunteer to talk about my experiences about 10 years ago, initially I was extremely nervous. However, with the support from the Trust I gained some confidence and self- esteem. It has been a bumpy ride, with a mixture of some positive and negative experiences however these are a learning curve for all parties involved.

I support the Trust in many ways from talking about my experience at Staff Induction, getting involved in events and writing blogs on the website. I am involved in the buddy scheme linked with Anglia University, which helps the students understand lived experience and many other different things.

I recently became a NHS governor for East Essex and this has made me extremely proud, not only for myself but also for the fact that the Trust really wants to get people with lived experience involved with conversations to make a difference within the community.

I am extremely passionate about mental health and helping people, and will continue to help and support the Trust as much as I can so we can keep improving the services that the Trust provides.

When I am not helping the world! I love spending time with my partner and two dogs Boris and Charlie, we spend time together going on lovely long walks through the UK countryside, I also love meditation and spending time with my good friends.

Carole Galbally

I have received support from EPUT since 2010, and feel that with the care, support and understanding I have moved forward in my journey towards recovery and managing my life in a stronger and more positive way.

This has encouraged me to share some of my story.

Chelmsford Recovery Hub opened about 6 years ago, I was encouraged to go along, look at the prospectus of beneficial courses on offer and enrol in some I felt might support me further.

I gained so much insight into my condition and how I could possibly help myself in some of the skills that could further my recovery. By meeting others who also struggled with their mental health and well-being, it allowed me to feel less isolated, less different and make new friends. This introduced me into becoming a volunteer for the Trust.

I trained to become part of the buddy scheme to students of 2nd year psychiatric nurses at Anglia Ruskin University. I also trained to sit on interview panels, give presentation talks on my journey towards recovery, took part in patient-led assessments of the care environment (PLACE) visits on various units across the Trust.

In all these areas I was given excellent training, mentoring, support and encouragement. Being an EPUT volunteer has allowed me to see the bigger picture of mental health care. It gives me a sense of value and fulfilment. I have made many good friends. I also feel an immense sense of self-worth and the ability to give back a little of the care and support given and shown to me by the Trust, over the last few years.

This has definitely given me a reason to continue and make something special in my life. I would recommend volunteering to anyone who feels they are well enough in their own journey and continue on a positive path towards achieving the benefits of recovery and well-being.

Donna Robinson

Hi everyone my name is Donna and I have cerebral palsy with mild learning difficulties, and all four of my limbs are affected. My legs are more affected than my arms so I am a wheelchair user.

When I’m going out and about in public on my own I can walk very short distances and around my house unaided, and if some days are better than others, and I really know where I am going and what is expected of me, I may sometimes use my walking frame.

I became an EPUT volunteer because I was approached by my physio who thought that being an EPUT volunteer would be something I would be good at, as I like to help people in any way I can and share my experience of living with a disability!

In my role as a volunteer I attend many buddy scheme days with allied health professional students and any other engagements where my experience of living with a disability may be able to help others, be it other service users and carers or NHS staff and students.

I really enjoy being an EPUT volunteer as I really really like attending the buddy scheme as I love sharing my thoughts and experiences of living with a disability.

I also really enjoy the opportunity to meet new people who may have similar experiences to myself because being in a family with a disability can sometimes make me feel quite alone. I have also made some really good new friends since being a volunteer which is always good for me!

In my spare time I like to watch snooker, listening to audio books and colouring different pictures or patterns in adult colouring.

Best wishes
Donna Robinson

Sue

My name is Sue; I started volunteering for the Trust when they came to my workplace.
I became interested in volunteering as I understood professional people like to hear true experiences from people, like myself, who have lived through mental illness and can share their story.

I was introduced to a trainee mental health nurse and we would meet once a week at the Brentwood centre, where we would have a room in which to chat and so it felt safe and confidential. Sometimes he would ask me to chat about my experience, other times he would ask me questions regarding my personal experience of illness and I also shared my experience of dealing with my daughters mental illness, which was different to mine. I found discussing and sharing the experiences of living with a long term mental illness extremely rewarding, as the listener was a trainee nurse and was interested in my information.

Unfortunately Brentwood Leisure Trust was a victim of the pandemic which resulted in all staff being made redundant. This has left a big hole in my life, being left with a lot of spare time, now job hunting being a priority, but not easy.
I walk somewhere every day and meet with a friend to have coffee and walk a long distance, as I love being outdoors. I also have a friend of 30 years who is a specialised nurse and I do her washing every week now as I have the time, it’s my new way of helping the NHS.

Best wishes
Sue

Jason Christopher McLean

My name is Jason and my hobbies include following Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), writing bonza verses and listening to awesome music to chill out.

I was inspired to become a volunteer because I wanted to help the system become as efficient as possible which is imperative to improving patient wellbeing. “All for one and one for all”.

If I can somehow find meaning in life then the feelings of pointlessness disappear. Volunteering gives me focus whilst I also work on my own psychological well-being.
The involvement as a volunteer doesn’t go unrewarded. Intrinsic value in life can come from the smallest piece of input towards a higher purpose.

As part of my volunteering, I was involved in “Removing stigma of mental health illnesses” at my old University (Essex) Campus. We worked as a team to address the issue of negative association to problems of the mind, especially amongst students at the University and off campus.

I also presented a ten-minute speech at the Marconi Conference Centre, Chelmsford, in front of an audience of over 50 people including nurses, student doctors, EPUT staff and various health professionals. This gave me a chance to answer deep questions about my time as an inpatient and outpatient of the NHS.

At a World Mental Health Day event my creative talent was given a platform to share poetry about a variety of subjects to an international audience. Fond memories were developed from reciting verse and being in the “limelight”, to serving a higher purpose. Often poets find it hard to share their innermost private material (of work); this event seemed to bring out the best in me as an EPUT volunteer.

As well as all the creative outlets EPUT has provided me with, I have had the more serious role of being a regular contributor to meetings and conferences. Although I have not entirely been consistent with attendance due to Bipolar Disorder, at least I can say that the last few years have been a life line to a future of giving ideas to the wider community.

The patient experience work I have been doing behind the scenes and in meetings can safely be seen as a voice being heard. I have contributed to the development of the 111 mental health phone line which provides mental health support for people in crisis 24 hours a day. I also contributed to the improvement of the Home First visiting system and Community Psychiatric Nurse (CPN) visitations. These projects helped improve my mental health at an essential point of need.