Having grown up in Portsmouth, I have close connections with St Mary’s Community Hospital. I currently live in Old Portsmouth and attended Priory School in Fratton. I have worked in and out of the city, usually travelling to work by bicycle. In the late 1990s, I was in the Leo’s, which is a youth branch of the Lions Club International, where I was a fundraising officer and also went on to be a chairperson. Since 1999, I have accessed the Adult Mental Health Services and was diagnosed with schizophrenia shortly after. Post diagnosis, I have been involved with other charities, carrying out door-to-door collections for several local and national causes, and spent 5 years at Oxfam’s Southsea branch, which sadly closed in 2022. During the COVID-19 pandemic, I volunteered at our local vaccination centre, assisting people of all ages, who came in for their jab. My interests include following Portsmouth FC, going to pub quizzes and playing pool. I learned about Portsmouth Interaction, a service that helps people with mental health problems to re-acclimatise to activities and society. I now regularly engage with the ranger at Hilsea Lines in conservation activities, and take part in walks, cycle rides and snooker.
I first became involved as a patient representative when I was allocated a mental health nurse, who was also a research nurse, running the Scimitar study. During this study, I expressed an interest in research and Kaye, the nurse, suggested that maybe there would be an opportunity for me to volunteer at St Mary’s Hospital. I started coming into the Academy and performing admin roles. I have met most of the Academy staff, and all of them have been a joy to work with. Being involved, gets me out of the house and gives me the opportunity to meet new people. I like to make myself useful and my contribution has grown over the years. I am also excited to participate in studies that are appropriate to my journey as a patient. The Academy’s focus on patient involvement makes me feel, not only included but eager to continue, be it as an interviewer, guide or patient voice.