I am a very passionate and outgoing person and have changed considerably over the last few years thanks to some great support to enable my recovery. From a young age I have experienced many difficult years, but now my life is great. I believe that the struggles I had in the environment I grew up in made me the resilient person that I am today. I am the eldest sibling of 10, so took on the role of leadership quite naturally. Loyalty is very important to and for me, so speaking out against injustice is a part of how I believe we show that commitment to our communities.

I have been working with Changing Our Lives for nearly 3 years now. I am an MP in the Mental Health People’s Parliament in Sandwell. This is very important to me, as I believe that my lived experience of mental health difficulties coupled with my leadership qualities enables me to be a key player finding solutions to difficult issues. Over this time my confidence has grown. For example, in October 2016 I presented at a launch for the Crisis Care Concordat at the Oval in London. The Crisis Care Concordat was a national agreement between services involved in the care and support of people in mental health crisis.  It set out how organisations worked together to make sure that people get the help they need when they are having a mental health crisis. I had never done anything like that before, but looking back now over a year on, I often speak publically or chair the Parliament.

I also see myself as a positive role model locally. I speak to people about mental health and I am known for this. People have come up to me and said me speaking in this way as helped them with their own mental health.

The People’s Parliament has produced a set of Quality of Life Mental Health Standards. These standards set out what people with mental health difficulties expect from services and supports. The standards give independence, choice, and control back to the people that need them. I have become a paid member of staff within Changing Our Lives and I am currently using these standards to measure quality of life in 10 local residential services. This work will report back to commissioners who pay for services so we can tell them what’s working and what needs to improve. Having people with lived experience check the quality of services is really important because we know what life is really like receiving services.