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New lead to help make young people's voices heard

​World Suicide Prevention Day – 10 September

Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) has appointed a new Youth Participation Lead who will join forces with dedicated young people who have suffered with mental ill health to help improve services for others.

Ginnie Beacham-Hulvej is responsible for leading the Trust’s work with young people and ensuring their voices are heard. She is also raising awareness of mental health issues among young people so that they can access the help they need at an earlier stage and before reaching crisis point or becoming suicidal.

The announcement comes in the run up to World Suicide Prevention Day, which takes place on 10 September and is arranged by the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP), World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Federation for Mental Health.

Originally a social worker, Ginnie brings with her extensive experience of working in mental health trusts as well as with young people, having previously worked with foster carers and looked after children in Essex.

“I’m a strong believer that encouraging participation among service users, patients and carers is really important if you want to improve the experience which people have when accessing care,” she said.

“I’ve found working at the Trust to be absolutely fantastic so far. It’s a very positive place, everyone is really committed to their role and there are some great pieces of work taking place. I’ve also seen a clear commitment from those using the services, as well as the people who deliver them, to improving things, which is great.”

As part of her role, Ginnie will work closely with NSFT’s Youth Council, which is made up of young people aged between 18 and 25 with lived experience of mental health issues. Their role is to ensure the voices of young people across both Norfolk and Suffolk are heard by senior Trust staff, the wider NHS, and other stakeholders including educators, so that changes can be made to benefit other service users.

The council is taking a message of hope to the International Association for Youth Mental Health Conference, which takes place in Dublin later this month, as well as bringing back learning and new innovations from presenters and keynote speakers. It comes after members attended the 2015 conference in Canada, where they made puppets of themselves to star in a video sharing their experiences of mental ill health.

Over the coming year, Ginnie is also hoping to link more closely with other youth groups and councils operating across the region so that they can feed into the work taking place at NSFT, and is especially interested in hearing from people aged under 25.

“We would like to hear from anyone who has a particular interest or would like to share their story, regardless of whether their experience has been good or bad,” added Ginnie. “It may be as simple as telling us you think a waiting room is cramped, for example, but by feeding back we can make changes so that the service is more useful and helpful to everyone.”

The Youth Council meets formally each month, alternating between Norfolk and Suffolk.  Although supported by NSFT, it is committed to providing an autonomous voice for young service users and often acts as a ‘critical friend’ to managers and researchers looking to develop and establish new policy and guidelines, appoint new staff as well as in general areas of service development and research.

The council now wants to set up local groups for 14 to 18-year-olds who use services to give them a forum where their experiences will be listened to while enabling them to feed into the work and priorities of the council.

Anyone who would like more information about the Youth Council, or is keen to feedback their views on the service they have received, can email

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