Jade, who is 19 years old, contacted People First because she felt she wasn’t being listened to during an assessment of her care and support needs.

Jade struggled to have her feelings and wishes heard due to the impact of some difficulties she was facing. Jade was put together with Sarah, one of our Advocates. Sarah supported Jade to identify her intended outcomes and tell people what was important to her. This included challenges with her accommodation and ensuring professionals understood what support needs she has.

Sarah recognised Jade’s strengths and shared information on a Healthwatch Cumbria focus group that was providing feedback to strengthen and reshape the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) in Cumbria.

Jade was able to share her experiences with other young people in the group and together they have provided their feedback as ‘experts by experience’ to support positive recommendations to improve the service.

This experience gave Jade the confidence to give a presentation to a clinical team at a recent event using feedback she had collated herself from an Instagram page asking for other young people’s experiences.

Jade produced a fantastic presentation which explored both positive and negatives experiences of users of the CAMHS service. This received an impressive response from the clinical team who offered Jade the opportunity to work more closely with them to create improvements in the service for young people across Cumbria.

This experience has not only empowered herself personally to have a voice but she has empowered other young people in the group to feel comfortable in speaking up and sharing their sometimes very difficult experiences.

Jade is now positive about her future and has recently explored looking to access further education with her intention to begin a university degree course. We are all very proud of Jade at People First!

Jade says “I usually try to make a point to thank people, but sometimes I am so overwhelmed by how kind and helpful someone can be, I forget to say the simplest things. So here it is: thank you

Thank you to the most kind and helpful advocate I had through People First.

Thank you for being there for me when no one else was. You listened and tried to help me through whatever problem I was facing, and I really appreciate it more than you know. Thank you for having my back. Thank you for sticking up for me when I needed someone on my side defending me when I didn’t know how.

Thank you for being my voice and helping me find mine when I felt no one else was listening. It is always good to know I always have someone in my corner and ready to come to my defence if things are not going my way.

You opened so many different opportunities for me, you encouraged me to discover my strengths and have empowered me to accomplish my goals. Thank you for helping me grow. I give my deepest gratitude for all your help.”

Well done Jade.

For more information on the work of Healthwatch Cumbria, click here.

For more information on advocacy support, click here.