Co-production is an important part of how mental health services are delivered in Powys, and one factor of this is a group of representatives who have either used, or care for somebody who has used, mental health services. These unpaid volunteers sit on regional and national partnership boards, alongside professionals who are involved in the delivery of services. This includes representatives from the Police, Ambulance Service, medical professionals, Powys County Council adult and child social care managers and voluntary groups.
The reps are there to make sure user/carer voice is included in the planning of services and they are always on hand to listen to your experiences and issues so that they can feed this back to the partnership groups. You can contact the reps by emailing the Participation Officer Owen Griffkin on email@example.com or calling 01597 822191.
Also if you would like to discuss becoming a representative yourself contact Owen for more information.
Meet your rep events
We will be holding regular Meet The Rep events in Powys now that lockdown rules are much more relaxed. The first of these will be on May 26th in Newtown and Welshpool Ponthafren centres.
These will be very informal drop in sessions where one of the Mental Health Service User reps will attend. Sarah Dale, who will be the rep attending these events, said “I will be popping in to Ponthafren in Welshpool and Newtown for our ‘Meet the rep’ event. Here you can come and have a chat with us and share your experiences of using mental health services or caring for someone who uses mental health services, so we can better champion service users and carers’ voices at a local, regional and national level. There will be tea and biscuits available.”
Hello my name is Sarah Dale.
I have Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), Anorexia, depression and anxiety which lead to me self-Injuring. As a service user I spent many years trying to gain a diagnosis. Since my diagnosis I have been able to find the most effective treatment and have learnt more about my diagnosis and myself which has led to an increase in my quality of life. I have been a carer for family members with different needs.
As a Powys mental health service user representative I attend various different meetings and boards, at a local and regional level, with the aim to bring a service user and Powys perspective. I bring any current issues or trends and help shape new services or treatment pathways so they are ‘service user ready’.
I became a rep for many reasons. I don't want others to have the experiences I had. I want to help others get their voice heard and make a difference to the local community. And I want to raise awareness of the issues I feel strongly about and the issues that Powys residents experience in accessing help and support for mental health and social issues. I strongly believe we all have the responsibility to do what we can to change and improve the mental health services that we all use.
In my time as a rep I have pushed for more representation from those experiencing mental health and substance misuse issues. Also more ways that the public can feed back issues or compliments they have experienced so reps can better represent the community, from online feedback forms (include link) and our meet the reps days. I have also created and developed service user led self-injury awareness sessions. These were originally developed for our Minor Injury Units and mental health staff. The sessions have also been attended by our voluntary mental organisations and our social services staff and foster carers. Every attendee gets an orange ribbon so look out for it. My self-injury awareness work has led me to be a part of the Mid and West Wales Suicide and Self-Harm Prevention Board, a Wales-wide research project. Who knows where next.
As a rep I have gained a greater appreciation for our staff. They are just as frustrated as us with the service at times. I feel as service users and as carers, we need to remind ourselves that staff are people too, and are doing what they can with what resources they have.
Email Sarah at firstname.lastname@example.org
Read Sarah's piece on Borderline Personality Disorder, which was written for BPD Awareness Month in May 2021.
Hello my name is John Lilley.
I was diagnosed with bi-polar in 2013 and before that with clinical depression as a result of life changing neurosurgery in 2000. After a three month stay as a patient in Bronllys, and attending Patients’ Council meetings whilst there, I decided that following recovery I would join Powys Patients' Council as a volunteer. I believe this helped in my recovery and boosted my self-esteem and confidence.
After being a volunteer for over 5 years I became a Mental Health Service User Representative in 2021 as I felt my experience as a service user, and as someone with lived experience of mental health issues, could help to give a voice and attempt to improve access and care within the mental health services.
During my time as a rep I have also joined the Wales Mental Health and Wellbeing Forum to represent Powys. This is a national forum that meets regularly and reports to the Welsh Government on issues affecting service users and carers locally. I have also been a member of the Powys Crisis Care forum which oversees the delivery of the Mental Health Crisis Care Concordat in Powys. This measures the effectiveness of how Powys deals with people in Mental Health Crisis.
Email John at email@example.com
My name is Rhydian Parry and I’m service user rep for the partnership board here in Powys. I was diagnosed with bipolar back in 2002 when I was 17 in what was a very serious episode. I have been in hospital due to my condition quite a few times since then and it’s from my experiences in there and in the general ‘system’ that I decided to become a rep. I wanted to try and help change mental health services for the better by bringing my experiences and those of other service users to the table. It’s good to have this opportunity and in the majority I do feel listened to and respected on the board. I think that we are making a difference, although the pace of change can feel a little slow at times.
Jane Bishop is the current carer rep for Powys. At the moment (May 2022) Jane is taking a short break from rep duties but if you would like to speak to one of the other reps about your experiences as a carer for someone using mental health services they will be happy to listen. We also have an opportunity for a new carer representative which is here.
Experts by Experience newsletter
Over the last 2 years PAVO and the individual representatives have been collecting details from people interested in becoming ‘Experts By Experience’. Up to now we have had over 50 expressions of interest and we were aware that we might not have enough opportunities to give all the respondents a chance to be involved in the planning and delivery of services.
We are addressing this by circulating a regular newsletter collecting current co-production opportunities, both regionally and nationally, and highlighting work done by current reps. Moving forward we would like to see more people take an active role in the work that individual representatives do, providing them with a depth of knowledge of people’s attitudes and experiences of mental health services that they can utilise in their partnership board meetings.