We spoke to one member of the Leeds Mind Impact Group to hear about their journey with Leeds Mind.
The Leeds Mind Impact Group is a team of people who have previously accessed our services, and use their experiences to make sure Leeds Mind is delivering the support people want.
The group member wishes to remain anonymous, partly due to the stigma of mental health. As an organisation, we challenge this stigma and hope to see the end of it as people become more accepting of mental health difficulties. After all, we all have mental health. However, until then we respect our member’s privacy and are grateful they are willing to share their journey in the hope it will encourage others to reach out for support or consider joining the Leeds Mind Impact Group.
Please tell us a little bit about your experience with Leeds Mind
I first came into contact with Leeds Mind when I accessed the WorkPlace Leeds service which is an employment support service. I was really pleased with the support I received. The staff were friendly and I felt safe and judgement free. When my support came to an end, I wanted to continue being involved. That’s when I saw an advert for a social event organised by Leeds Mind service users.
Former service users of WorkPlace Leeds continued to meet after their support had ended as part of a Client Involvement Group. They put on social events such as local walks or gardening. I really enjoy gardening and it’s good for my wellbeing and so I took half a day off work and went along. I really enjoyed it and liked that it was a hands-on event where you could get really involved. I felt listened to and wanted to be involved in future sessions, so I joined the Client Involvement Group (which has now evolved into the Leeds Mind Impact Group).
What have you enjoyed about being a member of the Leeds Mind Impact Group?
I have felt welcomed by everybody in the group – they’re all so friendly and we have worked well together now we have got to know each other. I feel we can be really open about our experiences and it’s a safe space to talk.
I like the communal aspect of the group, both socially and professionally. For example, there’s the opportunity to be involved in different parts of the meeting such as chairing or taking minutes.
We started with a blank page and have achieved so much in a short space of time. We have spent time building a good relationship and agreeing how we’d like to work together. Staff are there to support us but it is led by those who have lived experience of mental health difficulties to really influence what we’ll work on and how we’ll approach it.
Have there been any challenges, either in accessing support or joining the Impact Group?
There is still stigma attached to mental health difficulties, and as a man I have noticed this especially around men’s mental health. However, if you reach out for support the people and organisations providing support are safe spaces and judgement-free. They understand there is stigma attached to mental health and so they respect why you may want to stay anonymous or keep your involvement confidential, and that is absolutely ok with them.
Please tell us about the work you are proudest of having done with the Leeds Mind Impact Group
I’m a keen gardener and like to share this with others to promote the benefits of being outdoors.
I read in a gardening magazine that a new rose was being introduced to commemorate Captain Tom. The money from the sales will go towards supporting those charities supported by the Captain Tom Foundation – Mind is one of those organisations and so I thought this would be a great way to honour Captain Tom and to give back to charities. To me, Captain Tom was a role model and showed incredible resilience and determination. He had suffered a lot as a veteran but kept going during his marathon challenge and to me is an icon.
I raised the idea of planting the new breed of rose with Leeds Mind. There is a garden at Clarence House, one of Leeds Mind’s buildings, that had the perfect spot for this flower. We planted the bare root with the help from the Leeds Mind gardening group and picked the perfect spot – right next to the main entrance to Leeds Mind. Captain’s Tom rose is the last thing you see when you’re leaving the building and I hope it is a cheerful sight for all visitors, staff and volunteers at Leeds Mind.
We planted the bare root in March and it has now bloomed (which you can see in the pictures above).
What would you say to others thinking of accessing Leeds Mind support or joining the Leeds Mind impact group?
Leeds Mind is the organisation to turn to because they really understand mental health. If you get over the initial fear of trying something new, you will be met by friendly staff who accept you without judgement or prejudice. Staff listen to your ideas and create opportunities for you to be hands on. Planting Captain Tom’s roses is one example, but as an Impact Team of former service users we are doing lots of work such as developing an online space to give everybody the chance to feedback and influence decision making at Leeds Mind, and creating posters that really speak to people to encourage them to reach out for support.