I became a young carer at 12.5 along with my sister, after my mum developed a chronic health condition. I spent all of my teens and early adulthood supporting my mum, balancing school then work. I became (what I know now as) an advocate for my mum. I spoke about her needs and choices when she was unable to do so for herself – a great skill which I have developed and honed over the years. I have since become a carer, supporting others to self-advocate for various family members and close friends. I have been in the carer role on and off for over 40 years!
My experience of supporting others led me to work in the public service sector. I have worked in a variety of roles in local authority, and across education and adult social services. I worked for five years for the Disability Resource Centre, a Disabled persons user led organisation their purpose being to empower people, as leaders in their own lives. I worked helping disabled people and carers to gain the knowledge and skills to understand the health and care system and supporting people to learn about condition management and helping them to gain control of their situation.
I now work for NHS England and Improvement, in the Palliative and End of life Care Programme team in the Personalised Care Group as a senior manager. The development of the programme has a strong focus on people with Lived Experience. Part of my role involves supporting the team by making sure we have people who have experience of palliative and end of life care involved in developing all aspects of what we do.
Why does having people with Lived Experience involved in re-shaping health and care matter to me so much?
Whatever I am working on requires collaboration to share the shaping and design with the experts who will benefit from those developments – people. Empowering people takes time and skill. Enabling decision makers to understand the benefits of this way of working is growing, we are starting small and building big. National Voices is well on the way organisationally to listening, learning and tapping into the knowledge of people. People power is crucial to developing the future NHS and associated health and care services. Working with people – on a level playing field, valuing their contributions to improving services and systems – is here to stay. Our future success rests upon our ability to do this.
Why I wanted to join the board of National Voices
I had been following National Voices activity for a while. I watched the development and shift to greater focus on equity in response to the pandemic. I have seen clear evidence of a values driven organisation that align with my personal values and I thought I could be part of that. There is a lot I can bring to National Voices from my Lived Experience as well as my career experience and I feel there is much I can learn from National Voices to support my own growth too.
I am really excited to be a trustee of National Voices and look forward to listening, sharing, understanding and growing as a collective team.