RGN, BSc (Hons), MA, PGCE, MIFL
My own background is in nursing and I am also a qualified lecturer. Whilst practicing as a nurse, I worked in an Emergency Admissions Unit where self-harm was something I regularly encountered. I found myself completely unequipped to deal with the issue; I had no access to training or information and my lack of understanding inevitably impacted upon the quality of care and responses I gave. However, it wasn’t until I learned that my sister was self-harming that I developed a real interest and involvement in the issue. Through my experiences of supporting my sister over the many years that she self-harmed, I became aware of just how misunderstood the issue is and how this lack of understanding can often lead to some very unhelpful responses by staff and carers. I knew that self-harm was something I wanted and needed to understand and, by returning to the world of education and by listening to and learning from people who self- harm, I soon realised that it was something that could be understood.
As someone who has had my own issues around eating disorders, I also began to develop an understanding of my own experiences. Both self-harm and eating disorders can serve as coping strategies and expressions of distress and as such there is an inevitable link between the two, whilst also acknowledging the differences. I have a real passion and commitment towards the two issues, in terms of improving understanding and responses, which was the driving factor behind setting up harm-ed in 2007.
I have a particular interest in the harm-minimisation approach for both self-harm and eating disorders and, whilst studying for an MA in Bioethics and Medical Law, I undertook an in-depth research study, which focused primarily on the issue of ‘harm-minimisation’. It’s a pragmatic approach that makes so much sense and is an approach that is gaining momentum within services which is reflected in the increased popularity of our training courses on the issue.
I am an experienced trainer who has provided training to staff in services which include: social services; NHS Trusts; education; housing; drug and alcohol related services; youth services; and criminal justice related services. I have also gained recognition for my involvement in, and awareness of, the issues and challenges for ‘carers’ of someone who self-injures and have both spoken and facilitated workshops on the issue at several national conferences. I am also a full member of the Institute for Learning.
On a more personal front, I live just outside Burnley with my son who has Down’s Syndrome so am kept pretty busy but also find time to pursue my interests which mainly involve live music, playing the guitar and red wine!