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