Wednesday, 23 October 2013
Jose Grayson has been a trustee of national charity Mind for a year. Here he writes about how his first involvement with mental health charities, as an in-patient, grew into a passion for the sector, and a place on Mind's board.
I have been a trustee of national Mind for about one year but my first involvement with mental health charities was as an in-patient, being visited by a local mental health charity on the ward - the staff organised faith meetings but also came just to chat. I resolved on my recovery to get involved with mental health charities so I could give back a bit of what I had gained, without having the money to donate.
Initially I worked as a volunteer advocate for Mind but as I continued to recover, and then returned to a working life, I wanted to continue to offer my time to the mental health voluntary sector as I knew they had been so crucial in my recovery. I owed them!
The obvious way I could do this was trusteeship. It gave me the opportunity to feel I was making a difference while being able to continue my day job. It allowed me to shape the direction these charities could go in their service provision, knowing what was best from my own experience as a patient.
The secret for me was to get involved at a local level first with small charities, and as my knowledge of how charities function developed, I was able to seek out opportunities in the national arena. The Public Appointments website was particularly helpful.
I saw the advert for trustees in Mind’s magazine as I was already a member, and felt that through my personal experience as a service user I had a lot to offer.
I have found the other trustees to be wholly non-judgemental about my own experience and indeed it has been motivating to discover that although most are highly successful in their careers, they also have a personal story of recovery, either from their own point of view or through a friend or family member.
Although not paid employees, our contact with Mind staff is at the highest level and it is clear that senior staff greatly appreciate our views and input. I would recommend the role to anyone and am so proud to be involved!
Posted by Trustees' Week at Wednesday, October 23, 2013