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Young people begin fundraising bid to speak at international mental health conference
23/05/2019

A trio of young people who work hand-in-hand with Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) to improve services for others have launched a bid to raise £10,000 so they can share their experiences of mental healthcare at an international conference.

Vikki Versey (22), Meghan Teviotdale (24) and Chantel Keen (25) have been invited to the Mental Health for All Conference in Toronto in September to talk about the benefits of involving young people in the governance of a mental health trust.

They are now hoping to raise £10,000 to fund the visit. The drive comes four years after members of NSFT’s Youth Council raised money for a similar trip to a conference in Montreal.

The trio were selected to attend after submitting an abstract called “The benefits of giving young people more power.” It draws on their experiences as members of NSFT’s Youth Council, and talks about the importance of involving young people in the way services are shaped to ultimately improve them for others in the future.

“I was shaking with excitement when I found out our abstract had been accepted – it was just mind-blowing,” said Vikki, who has represented Suffolk as a partner governor with NSFT for around six months. “We are now focused on raising the money we need to go, and are looking to organise bake sales, raffles and anything else we can think of to help us reach our total.

“Meg is also a partner governor who has represented Norfolk for two years, and Chantel is a member of the Norfolk Governance Panel, so we have all worked with NSFT for some time. At the conference, we’ll be talking about the benefits that has brought and how invigorating it can be.

“Youth participation has been on the rise nationally for the past couple of years, but I think NSFT is ahead of the game in terms of involving young people. We are seen as equal partners and it's great to be involved in true co-production. It feels like the Trust really listens to the experience of service users, partners and carers, which is vital as they can play a vital role in shaping the service going forward.”

The conference takes place between 23 and 25 September. To donate to the fundraising campaign, visit Vikki's GoFundMe page here.

Anyone who would like to help raise funds can email: victoriaverseynsft@outlook.com

For press enquiries, email: nsft.communications@nsft.nhs.uk