Yesterday, May 17, 2022, and today are two days which not only validate my attitude of #whatcanbe but have also combined and made all my past experiences, negative and positive, worthwhile. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I would never want to live through my negative experiences again, but I don’t want it any other way, because I love who I am today.
Between 10:00 and 15:00, yesterday, as a representative from the Lived Experience Team at Revolving Doors, I co-chaired the NHS England & NHS Improvement’s launch of RECONNECT. In the morning session I shared the responsibility with, to give him his full title, The Rt. Hon. Lord Keith Bradley of Withington, although Lord Bradley insisted, I call him Keith. It was a surreal start to a special day when I introduced Keith to open the event.
Next up, surreal moment number two, did I mention yesterday was a surreal day? My next job as co-chair was to introduce, Steven Johnson-Procter. Steve is currently the national lead on behalf of his Regional Probation Directorate colleagues for Probation on Health and Social Care issues; including activities linked to substance misuse, mental health, and wider neurodiversity. He is also the senior operational probation lead linked to the Reconnect and Enhanced Reconnect programmes. However, Steve is currently the Regional Probation Director for the East of England and, therefore, in charge of the probation area I was linked to for several of my years. Hence, surreal, but it does get even more surrealer, if that’s a word. It’s a feeling, that I do know.
It was then Keith’s time to introduce me to talk about ‘RECONNECT development, the journey so far’ from a lived experience perspective. Following my talk, I then got to introduce Jessica Redhead, Senior Commissioning Manager, Health & Justice, NHS England Northeast Region and Liam Southam, Community Lead, from Rethink Mental Illness to talk about ‘Developing and delivering a RECONNECT service’. This was followed by a panel discussion with the questions being asked by members of the audience, which numbered over 140. Comfort break was next where we said thank you and goodbye to Keith who had business to attend to at the House of Lords. See, surrealer.
After the comfort break, we had four break-out rooms, my colleagues from the Lived Experience Team at Revolving Doors co-hosted the rooms which discussed ‘Workforce development – The Northwest’s use of the lived experience charter’, ‘Female pathways – Learning from a female pathway’, ‘Digital connectivity – How digital resources are being used and can improve continuity of care’, and ‘Substance misuse – Meeting the taskforce target.’ Before the lunchbreak, the Lived Experience Team then provided us with the feedback from the rooms.
My co-chair for the afternoon session and another surreal introduction moment was Kate Davies CBE. Kate is the national director for healthcare services across England for Armed Forces serving personnel, veterans, and their families; sexual assault referral centres (SARCs); and prisons, immigration removal centres and secure children’s homes and training centres. Kate has also led the development of the national Liaison & Diversion Programme and Street Triage, the roll out of community sentence treatment requirements and the launch of RECONNECT to support prison leavers transition to community health and wellbeing services.
Now! This is where surreal made Salvador Dali look like a doodler, the next person I introduced was the Minister of State (Minister for Care and Mental Health) at the Department of Health and Social Care, Gillian Keegan MP. The event then began to run behind time as Gillian, Kate, and I became engrossed in our chat. Sue me!
Following the minister’s talk, Kate introduced Natalie Wonnacott, who is the Reconnect Lead Practitioner for Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. Natalie gave us an excellent presentation on ‘Partnership working – working with partners to provide a holistic approach to care.’
It was then my turn again, this time I got to introduce Neisha Betts, Programme Manager, Inclusive Workforce Programme, Health & Justice, NHS England and Kevin Heffernan, Peer Support Implementation Manager, Health & Justice, NHS England who gave a wonderful presentation on the ‘Inclusive Workforce Programme – An overview of the programme and the anticipated benefits on RECONNECT services.’
Although, yesterday was as surreal as it was, up next was someone for whom I have the utmost respect for, Kate Morrissey who talked about ‘RECONNECT Next steps – Forward planning and beyond the National rollout’. Kate is the National Implementation of the new RECONNECT and Enhanced RECONNECT services and has also been the regional lead for Patient and Public Voice in Secure settings within the Southeast, championing the views of service users and ensuring that they are involved in the development of services. Kate also works frontline shifts for Southeast Coast Ambulance Service. Not only that, and I can only speak for myself, I have been involved in quite a few meetings with Kate (and others), and she always makes sure the voices of lived experience are listened to and respected by those, regarding Health in Justice, who matter.
It was then down to me to thank everyone who attended the event and for one last time, yesterday, got to introduce Kate Davies CBE who then brought the event, and one of the most incredible days of my life to a close.
Reasons to be cheerful, part 1.