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New recruits make young people's voices heard

Two new faces have joined Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust’s (NSFT) Council of Governors to make sure young people’s voices are heard and their needs taken into account when planning for the future.

Elise Page, who lives near Ipswich, and Katie Davies (pictured), from Norwich, will serve as Governors for three years and will be responsible for representing the views of children and young people. Both have lived experience of mental ill health, have used NSFT’s services in the past and are members of the Trust’s Youth Council.

Their new roles will see them work with NSFT’s existing public, staff, carer and partner Governors to act as a key link between the Trust and the communities it serves.

Elise was first referred to NSFT when she was 14 after suffering with an eating disorder, and has since received care for OCD, anxiety and depression. She saw joining the Council of Governors as an opportunity to represent young voices while further developing her own skills.

“I found our first meeting really interesting and a great experience,” said 20-year-old Elise, who currently works in a bar and is hoping to go on to complete an Open University course in psychology and counselling. Everyone was very welcoming.

“Two service users sit on the Council of Governors to represent adults, and Katie and I will be providing younger voices.

“I’m hoping that becoming a Governor will give me lots of life skills I wouldn’t otherwise get the opportunity to learn, while also helping with my confidence.”

Katie started experiencing mental health problems aged just 13, and began self-harming before battling anorexia, anxiety and depression.

She is now in recovery and has recently started working as an apprentice peer tutor with NSFT’s Recovery College so that she can help other people suffering from mental ill health.

“I was really pleased to become a Governor – NSFT has given me so much that I wanted to give something back,” said Katie, who is 22. “The Trust has helped me through its services, so it’s nice that I am able to do something in return.

“Elise and I will act as a link between the Youth Council and Governors, and will make sure young people’s voices are heard while taking back any issues for discussion.

“We’ve already been to our first meeting – everyone is really lovely and I think I’m going to enjoy the role and being given the opportunity to have an input.

“It will also be really good to get more experience and learn new skills such as holding people to account, which will be useful later in life.”

The governors meet six times a year and hold two special themed events annually. They also attend sub-groups and committees, as well as visiting services and speaking to staff.

Guenever Pachent, Lead Governor, said: “We are delighted that Elise and Katie have joined us to act as the voices of young people and represent their views.

“They both have some really interesting ideas and we are looking forward to working closely with them to help shape NSFT’s future direction.”​