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PSWs kick off 2017 by raising mental health awareness
02/01/2017

​Two peer support workers (PSWs) who use their lived experience of mental ill health to help others are to take to the pitch as special guests of Norwich City Football Club to raise awareness of the help which is available locally.

Andrea Bland and Pippa Hoskin from Wellbeing Norfolk and Waveney, which is run by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT), will place the match ball on the plinth before the Derby County game today (2 January) as part of the Football clubs’ Community Hero initiative.

The duo have been invited to the game alongside ex-Norwich player Cedric Anselin, who has also been named as a Norwich City Community Hero for the Derby clash after recently speaking out about his own battle with depression. As well as inviting the special guests, NCFC will also include a story in their match day programme to raise awareness of mental health issues and where people can go for help.

Pippa, who has been a PSW since September 2015 and a Canaries fan for several years, said: “I jumped at the chance to go to the game and am really excited but also really nervous at the same time.

“You can’t get a much bigger stage than Carrow Road so it will also be a great opportunity to showcase Wellbeing Norfolk and Waveney and the support we provide.

“I have had depression and anxiety since the age of 15 but now have the knowledge and skills to deal with it better. I really enjoy using my own experience to help others – people really open up when they find out you have been through it yourself.

“The job is really rewarding as you feel you are making a difference. It keeps you grounded – you can’t get much better than seeing people improve and be able to move on and meet their goals.”

Andrea, who started working for the service in July after spending more than 10 years working for Great Yarmouth and Waveney Mind, said: “I am very excited about it – it’s not something you get the chance to do every day and will give me a story to tell as well as a chance to spread the word about mental health.

“I love my job as a PSW. It is amazing and makes me think that everything I have been through was a for a reason. It allows me to use my own experiences of depression to help others – when I tell them I have been there myself I can see their faces change. Hopefully the fact that we are there makes it easier for them to engage with the service on their own recovery journey.”
Wellbeing Norfolk and Waveney provides a range of support for people with common mental health and emotional issues, such as low mood, depression or stress. This can include workshops, online support, one-to-one therapy and counselling. Anyone who aged 16 and over can access the service by talking to their GP or self-referring.

The service is provided by a partnership of NSFT, Relate and three local Mind organisations. Pippa and Andrea are both employed by Great Yarmouth and Waveney Mind.

To get help from Norfolk and Waveney Wellbeing, visit www.wellbeingnands.co.uk or call 0300 123 1503.