Ruth Govan (Chair)
I first became involved with Hear Us as a representative for Lantern Hall, that was a long time ago, for those of you who remember. Then I chaired the Open Forum for a time, later becoming first Vice Chair of the Trustees of Hear Us and then, for some ten years the Chair.
During my adult life, I have suffered many bi - polar episodes. Almost every time, needing to be sectioned, usually after spending time in Police cells, before landing on a locked ward. During one particular episode, I was found to be in Contempt of Court, and landed up in Holloway Prison, until it was realised that I was actually ill and was transferred to the Bethlem.
From these often quite typical experiences, I think that I can empathise with what many, or even most, of our Members (and Staff and Volunteers) have gone through. I have also had experience of the stigma that we have all met.
For the past seventeen years, I have been fortunate enough to have been free of any recurring episodes, due to reliable medication (even though it makes for sleepy mornings!) This has allowed me to spend time, working with Hear Us Trustees, Staff and Volunteers for the benefit of our Members, and hopefully for the wider community in some small ways.
I have always enjoyed the work that I have been able to do for Hear Us, and am grateful for the opportunity I have had to do so.
Abeline Greene (Company Secretary)
I have over 10 years experience supporting people with the whole range of mental conditions such as depression and anxiety, self-harm as well as diagnoses such as bipolar and schizophrenia - many of the people have severe and enduring mental health problems. I have dealt with crisis situations and safeguarding issues, confidentiality issues, health and safety. This has included working with mental health services in Croydon and Lewisham, SLaM/ CMHT, other third sector providers and the CCG.
I am passionate about well-being, supporting people to feel listen to and enabling them be part of managing their mental health. This includes encouraging people with lived experience to share their own experiences to support and empower others.
Cassandra Austin (Vice Chair)
I have complex PTSD following abuse, but also I come from a medical background in which I thrived.
Through my own experience as a Trade’s Unionist whilst working as a nurse in central London, joining with many colleagues to fight hospital closures, and protecting those working in the profession, I have found I can speak up for others in similar circumstances, who don’t have the experiences I have had.
I have gained strength, friendship, acceptance, knowledge and humility from volunteering for Hear Us and the Reachout Challenge, and that has allowed me to contribute what I can and understand that together we are strong.
I became a Trustee for Hear Us because I could see the need for the voice that it gives to all of us service users. The ongoing effect of our Linkworking project, Reachout events and our forums shows that we need this model in every borough.
None of us should be defined by mental illness and I would like to stand again as a Trustee to continue to work with my colleagues to support and give a voice to all service users in Croydon.
Angela Mitchell (Treasurer)
Angela Mitchell (Interim Chair)
Since November 2018 I have been Interim Chair of Hear Us and felt extremely honoured to take on this role. It has been a great opportunity for me to step up into a leadership role of a truly outstanding organisation. I live in Croydon and first heard about Hear Us through my work with London & Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust as a Service User Involvement in Training & Education Manager, where I have been working for the last 10 years.
I left my teaching job when I became too stressed to work and it was then that I was diagnosed with Bi-Polar. I have been living with mental health problems for many years and for a lot of the time I kept my mental health problems a secret, feeling ashamed. It is real comfort knowing that there is an organisation that is so dedicated to tackling stigma and giving a voice to those who need it, as I did and still do.
I have also worked in the voluntary sector for Mind in West London and I hope that my personal experience and the skills I have gained from working in mental health for the past 20 years will mean that I can support Hear Us to not only continue but to develop and to thrive.
I have been a member of Hear Us for around 5 years taking part as both a Linkworker, a member of the Reachout Challenge and the head of the media group. About two years ago I decided that I would apply to become a Trustee member and bring to the table my experience in mental health as I have been diagnosed with clinical depression. I have enjoyed my time as a trustee and would recommend that others if the opportunity arises to take the plunge and become a trustee member.
I have mental health problems, this is something that is a big part of my identity and has been a huge influence on the direction my life has taken and for a long time I felt that my mental health problems ruled my life with me having very little control. However, since coming to Hear Us 4/5 years ago, I have been able to take more control over my life and, as a Trustee of Hear Us, I now use my mental health problems to help Hear Us to continue to make a positive difference to other service Users and the services we receive.
Hear Us has been running since 4th October 2001 as a not for profit organisation in Croydon and on 15th April 2010 the Management Committee registered Hear Us with the Charity Commission for charity status (No. 1135535) to give Hear Us a more independent and stronger voice in the community.
The constitution in the original form was adopted by resolution at the AGM held on the 27th May 2004. Amendments to the constitution were adopted by resolution at the EGM held on 1st July 2008.
The Management Committee are the Trustee Group and are listed on page 5 of the Annual Report 2009/10. They include a Chairperson, Vice Chairperson, Secretary, Treasurer and the Coordinator Tim Oldham. The Committee has the power to co-opt members as and when they deem it necessary. The Trustee Group is responsible for the day to day running of Hear Us and has a responsibility to report to the funders, charity commission and other stakeholders whenever the need arises.
OBJECTIVES AND ACTIVITIES
- To relieve the needs of people living in the London Borough of Croydon and surrounding areas who have mental health problems by the provision of services and advice
- To advance education about mental health for the public benefit in the London borough of Croydon and surrounding areas with the object of creating awareness and reducing the stigma attached to mental health