I originally got involved with my local Mind association in Newquay, Cornwall, 12 years ago. Six years ago, I joined national Mind. The fact that I sit on two councils - at both local and national level - means I can see things from both perspectives.
This has manifested itself through my trustee work on the quality review for local Mind associations over the past two years. The aim of this is to ensure that Mind affiliates throughout England and Wales are working towards the same objectives. More than half the trustees are actively involved at a local level - we want to make sure there is good service-user representation and inclusion at every level and that Mind is working for the benefit of service users.
Mind is an organisation that believes in empowering people with experience of mental distress and fights against discrimination. Approximately 70 per cent of our trustee board have direct experience of mental distress - we should have greater insight into the work we do.
My experience of living in Cornwall has also contributed to my interest in working with issues of social isolation with Rural Minds, the organisation's rural health initiative.
As well as this, I'm currently involved with Mind's 'Coping with coming off' study, which looks at people's experiences of giving up prescribed medication.
I have been addicted to benzodiazepines for 35 years and have been slowly coming off them for two years. I hope I have brought my own knowledge of this and what I'm going through to others - it is a very difficult and painful process.
Being a trustee gives me self-esteem and helps me contribute towards the work I so passionately believe in. Some things, such as travelling up to London every month, have been a struggle, but my belief in Mind makes it worth every minute.