Our stories

With AWP you are supported, encouraged and valued

Chris Blears, North Somerset primary care psychiatric liaison team

Circle Chris Blears

"My life has changed so much since joining AWP. When AWP took over mental health services in North Somerset in 2000, I was 39 and had no formal education. I'd worked in footwear and cotton factories in Lancashire and in bars, amusement arcades and an electronics factory in Weston-super-Mare. In 1997 I joined the NHS as a nursing assistant. Three years on I was promoted to healthcare assistant, around the same time as I transferred to AWP.

The following year, the Trust gave me an opportunity to undertake a City & Guilds certificate in community mental health care. I passed in 2002. Then in 2003 the Trust sponsored me to do my mental health nursing diploma at the University of the West of England (UWE). Not only did I qualify in 2006, I believe I am also the only diploma student to have been awarded the faculty prize for 'student of the year', an honour usually given to the best degree students.

Words cannot really express what being part of the AWP team has meant to me. My last role prior to joining the NHS was as an electronic assembler in a factory on £7,500 a year. I am now a community psychiatric nurse, respected in my field and earning £30,000 a year. I have grown as a person and developed so much in my career.  I have had an article published in a respected journal and I learnt to drive aged 44. This was down to the confidence I gained by going to UWE and realising I could do the course. If it wasn't for AWP giving me the opportunity and encouragement to do that, I might never have realised what I was capable of achieving."


Whatever your grade, with AWP you can be a leader

Jacob Kelly, Healthcare Assistant, Blackberry Hill Hospital, Bristol

Circle Jacobkelly"When I started working at Southmead Hospital in a high dependency mental health unit there was some unused space in the back garden, so along with the patients we started a vegetable patch. We entered the produce in a local flower show and won a few prizes. I then moved to another unit and on my first day in the job, brought in a cheque for £1,200 to fund a project to transform the garden. We entered the flower show again and won some awards. Activities carried on improving on the ward through charitable funds and we got things like table tennis equipment. The patients, staff and my manager put me forward for a staff award and I won. This was amazing. We then got funding and the backing for a larger gardening project, to run across ten wards. I have gained confidence and recognition for the ideas I have come up with. The best bit was all the people I've met through my projects that otherwise I wouldn't have known."


With AWP you can innovate; we focus on solutions, not problems

Johnny Barnett, Specialist Drug and Alcohol Services (SDAS) Peer Mentor

Circle Johnnybarnett"At the age of 10 and under the influence of older kids, I stared experimenting with glue sniffing. I progressed on to alcohol, Es, acid and class As, by the time I hit my 20's. For the next 20 odd years I chased the buzz and funded it however I could. I was in and out of prison, in and out of treatment and detox. In 2011 I did detox at Blackberry Hill Hospital in Bristol and was approached to discuss the peer mentor concept. The need for a peer support worker emerged out of the successful volunteer peer mentor programme in Bristol and South Gloucestershire specialist drug and alcohol service, now going SDAS-wide. After huge support and intensive training I am now responsible for co-ordinating the volunteer peer mentors and their workload; ensuring confidentiality and boundaries are maintained and policy and procedures followed; for development; recruiting new peer mentors; and for running a regular peer support group for the peer mentors. Four years ago I was homeless and focused on drink, crack cocaine and Valium. Now, I am a completely different person. It's taken me a long time to get here but my passion is helping other people, as others helped me. Being a peer mentor has been such a big part of my own recovery and this job is the next stage for me, a chance to prove myself, to try new ideas, help develop the concept and support and encourage other people in their recovery. My purpose is to plant seeds of hope."


With AWP you can specialise in what interests you most about mental health

Dr Anthony Harrison, Consultant Nurse (Liaison Psychiatry) Hillview Lodge, Bath

Circle Anthonyharrison"I became a Consultant Nurse in 2000, the first in the South West, which really highlights AWP's innovation and creativity in making new appointments. Potentially in mental health, there are lots of different areas in which to specialise. My interest in self harm and suicide (issues which are closely linked) and how to prevent suicide, developed from my liaison work. I then became a Senior Nurse and as such took a leadership role, thinking more strategically about suicide prevention. Every case tells a story and it is important to think strategically about common links between cases. We also follow the national agenda and are aware of national issues."


With AWP you can do new things to meet local needs

Mary Griggs, Clinical Psychologist, Specialised Deaf Service

Circle Mary Griggs"The Specialised Deaf Service was set up to support deaf and deafblind people with mental health needs. Most of our service users are British Sign language (BSL) users who are experiencing serious mental or emotional distress. We can provide specialist assessment, therapy and consultation to deaf service users and carers and other professionals working with deaf people with mental health needs. We understand that deaf people experience a higher rate of mental health problems and also that communication and cultural barriers have often stopped people accessing the right support. We work directly in BSL and have other communication skills to ensure people's needs are assessed as effectively as possible. The service tries to work with other deaf professionals as far as possible with all consultation, teaching and therapy. The service plays an important role in providing information, consultation and advice around the needs of culturally deaf people. Our goal is to work collaboratively with deaf people to help them develop new skills and feel more in control of their lives."


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