Chris Lynch: A week in the Life, Service User Governor

05 June 2017

In the first of our new Governor Blogs, Service User Governor Chris Lynch describes a typical week in his (very busy!) shoes.

Monday

Up early and it’s off to the supermarket!

I’m a trustee of Chester PLUS, an independent mental health charity in Chester. It’s led and run entirely by people with lived experience all on a voluntary basis. It’s open to anyone 18 and over who has experienced or is experiencing any level of mental health problem, as well as anyone who wants to give their wellbeing a boost. Over the summer we were open five days of the week for over thirty five hours a week for the first time ever.

Mondays has a definite focus on food, it really does bring people together. With that in mind it’s my turn to go to the shops! We have a breakfast club at 10am and a Cookery group at 3pm so there’s plenty to buy.

Breakfast club is 10-12am every Monday morning and there’s no better way to start the week than with a bit of peer support and to share a meal.

Chester PLUS continues with a drop-in from 12 till 3pm every Monday, but for me I’m off down to CWP for their Membership and Development subcommittee meeting, which I co-chair with fellow Governor Ferguson McQuarrie.

We had a really productive meeting. I think the more we can engage with our members and bring everyone together the more we’ll feel like one CWP.

Just time for a quick teleconference. I’m the Treasurer for the British Psychological Society’s Community Psychology Section and with a lot planned it’s great to be able to keep in touch in between face to face meetings.

Back to Chester PLUS for the Monday night Rethink Support Group from 6-8pm. Services are often all Monday to Friday 9-5 so we just try and provide things when there wouldn’t normally be anything else available.

If you’re interested in finding out more about Chester PLUS, the Rethink group or the power of peer support you can check out the film we made recently here.

Tuesday

Another early start with a phone call to Time to Change’s North West Community Equalities Coordinator, lots to talk about. We’re working on revitalising the Campaigning group in Chester/Cheshire and trying to work out if Time to Change and Rethink Mental Illness could be working closer together in communities nationally.

Just a bit of time to catch up with some paperwork then off to Chester to the West Cheshire Mental Health Forum meeting which I help run with fellow Governors Rob Robertson and Keith Millar.

The Forum has been going since 1995 and is going through a refresh at the moment, a lot of work has gone in and the benefits are starting to show. You can find out more about the forum here: www.wcmhf.org

Time for a bite to eat then back to Chester PLUS for a trustee meeting.

Wednesday

A quick phone call to Rethink’s North West Groups Development officer, as well as the two group we have in Chester we’ve just helped start a new Group in Blacon, with another in the works for Ellesmere Port and three more around Cheshire in the pipeline by the end of the year.

Then on to CWP for a working group on a new local Mental Health Campaign, looks really exciting. Watch this space for more details.

In the afternoon, it’s off to the Council HQ for a meeting about a new Mental Health Partnership Board. Building on the success of the Learning Disability Board and using the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health as a framework it looks like it has support from all the local agencies at the highest levels and hopefully won’t be too long before it’s in full effect.

Then it’s on to facilitate the Wednesday night Rethink Support Group down at Northgate Locks Recourse Centre on Canal Street from 6-8pm.

Thursday

Off to the Races! Well at least the Racecourse for the West Cheshire Poverty Truth Commission Launch Event. We were there as support as one of our group was speaking. The Commissions starts with a question: ‘What if people living in poverty could help shape the way our borough’s leaders make decisions surrounding the support services in place?’

You can find out more about it here.

It was great to see so many Community Inspirers telling their stories, so powerful and thought provoking. It was a good day, a great first step, looking forward to seeing what comes from it.

Friday, Saturday & Sunday

Now the real work starts! Or at least the paid work. I work at Pizza Hut and have done for over fifteen years now. Currently I work in Liverpool, for the last five years I’ve been working three long shifts over the weekend so I can do all the Voluntary/Charity work I do during the week. Before that I was working/studying for my Psychology degree.

I love the job, the people and the support I get. Pizza Hut have really looked after me especially when I haven’t been well over the years. You can find out more about that here.

Pizza Hut have an amazing philosophy and their focus on growth - and that’s not just within your job role, there’s a company wide focus on personal growth.

I’m really proud that Pizza Hut have just signed Time to Change’s Employer Pledge and chosen Rethink Mental Illness as their Charity Partner, I really do wish all employers were as supportive and progressive as mine.

So that’s me, no two weeks are the same. Next week I’m off to Leicester, then London, back to Chester for a day and then in Birmingham before I’m back at the Hut again!

All the stuff I do during the week has been so beneficial to my continuing recovery and all the skills I’ve learnt have been completely transferable, everything I’ve done has made me the person I am today. I get just as much peer support from Chester PLUS and the Rethink group as anyone and between them and Pizza Hut they all feel like an extended family.

I’m aware how fortunate I’ve been with all the support I’ve got over the years from my family, friends, employer and more recently from my peers. I know not everyone has that level of support and this is just my way of paying it forward.

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If you’re interested in keeping up with Chris you can follow him on Twitter @chrislynch81 or if you want to find out more about anything he mentioned, come along yourself or even help with it all! You can drop him an email at info@chesterplus.org just mark it FAO Chris Lynch.

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