My National Service User Awards journey

A guest blog by Aimee Wilson.

Recovery can be amazingly overwhelming sometimes!

When I was offered the role of Social Media Lead for the National Service User Awards (NSUAs) 2018, I couldn’t help but think to my ‘previous’ roles at this event in the years previous.

On the run-up to the 2014 NSUAs, I had been an inpatient of Cygnet Hospital Bierley for around six or seven months. I was admitted to the long-term Personality Disorder specialist ward at the Hospital in 2012, just days after having woken up in Intensive Care after a suicide attempt. At that point, I could never have imagined being in recovery; I was convinced that I would end up killing myself and was furious with all of the Cygnet staff for preventing me from doing so, feeling they were prolonging my distress.

So it is not just my journey over the years of the actual event that is overwhelming, but also the notion of working with Cygnet Health Care in such a respected, important, and essential role. Having done a lot of social media and blogging for Cygnet conferences and events, I thought there might be no real significance to this project but I think that my history with the Awards has contributed to this feeling of warmth, and sense of achievement.

Unfortunately, I can’t remember how my role at the 2014 NSUAs came about; but I do remember what my role was! I’ll never forget sitting on my bed in my room on the ward handmaking about 50 Awards invitations! I used lots of materials from the Occupational Therapy arts and crafts resources; so much so, that when I’d completed them and was asked to do 25 more, there was a bit of a ‘hoo-ha’ trying to sort out more materials!

In the end, it was a good thing that I’d used their sparse collection and last-minute extras because it meant that the invitations were individual; each one unique for each guest.
I can also still remember being told that I was a finalist in the award for ‘Outstanding Service User Involvement.’ The recently hired Involvement Co-Ordinator had secretly nominated me for the category and the NSUA judging panel, for some reason(!), put me through to the final stage where the winner would be announced at the Awards. The Involvement Co-Ordinator had taken the completed invitations to have the insides completed and I was sat in my room when he came back in and told me that one invitation needed some more work on it. Confused, I opened the invitation and found that it was addressed to me! It was such a lovely way to tell me and I really appreciated that gesture, especially having just had a difficult Trauma Therapy session.

The following year (2015) I was volunteering with an award-winning young people’s mental health organisation in England, Youth Focus, and informed them about the existence of the Awards, and the nomination process. They subsequently nominated themselves for their campaign ‘Change UR Mind’ and invited me along to the Awards when they were listed as finalists. It was surreal to be back (they were held at the same venue as in 2014) and to see everyone on the organising team and judging panel. And the bonus was, Youth Focus won the award in the category of ‘Reducing Stigma/Tackling Discrimination!’

Having experienced two of the National Service User Awards, I know that it is a fantastic, fun, and inspirational event and I can’t help but look forward to 2018! For the chance to join me and everyone else at the Awards, you can make your nominations by visiting here:

About Aimee

Aimee Wilson, is 26 and lives in Blyth. During Aimee’s admission to Cygnet Hospital Bierley, she created a blog called I’m NOT Disordered to detail her recovery process and when she was discharged in 2014, the blog went from strength to strength and now has over a quarter of a million readers. Through this, Aimee has gone to appear in newspapers, magazines, and both local and national news and now works as a Social Media Expert for Northumbria Police, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust and Time To Change. In addition to this, Aimee works as an Advertising Assistant for a support group for those who are unemployed as well as maintaining her blog.

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