Lived Experience

I work with a range of organisations who value lived experience input into projects related to mental health and complex trauma.

I have lifelong experience of extreme mental distress, having accessed many different kinds of ‘help’ along the way (a.k.a. surviving the mental health system).

At the age of 28 I realised that childhood sexual abuse and complex trauma was at the root of my struggles. Its misdiagnosis caused me extra harm, but I finally had the knowledge and tools I needed to move forward.

After taking control of my own healing journey, I am now ready to use my voice to make sure nobody else suffers unecessarily like I did. Trauma informed services designed by those with lived experience are sadly missing in our society, and it’s time we changed that.

Through my work with Eyes On Trauma, I am proud to be involved with the following projects & organisations:

VAMHN Lived Experience Advisory Group

The Lived Experience Advisory Group (LEAG) was set up in 2020 at the Violence and Abuse Mental Health Network (VAMHN), a UK Research Network hosted by the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s College London.

I was offered a place within the LEAG and am proud to be part of it. My role here includes input into lived experience focus groups and research-related opportunities. I’ve worked on projects including developing lived experience research benchmarks and evaluating grant funding applications.

Samaritans Lived Experience Advisory Group

I joined the Samaritans Lived Experience Advisory Group in September 2021. The Samaritans are undertaking work on their 5 year strategy, and are keen to engage people with lived experience of suicide to help develop this. I’m excited at the opportunity to help make things even better for my peers, particularly from a trauma-informed perspective.

Supporting Samaritans

Intentional Peer Support

Peer support is a promising lived experience model to support people struggling with complex trauma and other mental health difficulties. I am particularly keen to promote peer support models, as they have worked so well for me and others, and strong evidence begins to back this in current research.

I am an internationally certified Intentional Peer Support worker, and a member of peer support groups. I have the following peer support certifications and experience:

  • June 2020 – Talk for Health peer support programme
  • October 2020 – Intentional Peer Support training course
  • July 2021 – 8-Week REMIT Experts By Experience pilot programme (see below)
  • Member of Talk for Health intentional peer support group
  • Member of Co-Reflection Group for peer support workers
Talk for Health - Logo

I am very keen to help advise on peer support, set up new peer support programmes, input into peer support research, etc.

Home-Start East Sussex

I have worked with Home-Start East Sussex (HSES) since January 2021, through a research placement with the University of Brighton. We’ve collaborated and worked reflexively on a research proposal for a new peer support service, aimed at women who complete HSES’s domestic violence programme.

HSES have already found my lived experience insights invaluable and cruicial in helping gain funding to begin setting up their peer support programme. I have really enjoyed working on this much-needed project and look forward to seeing it come to life.

REMIT Experts By Experience

I recently took part in the pilot REMIT Experts By Experience programme, run by Healing Justice LDN over the course of 5 months from March – July 2021.

Aimed at people with lived experience of medical and institutional trauma, the programme explored related themes during 8 sessions. It became a safe space for us to connect with our peers, and explore our own experiences of harm & healthcare.

The space empowered me to bring my whole self to our sessions and continue to commit to my own healing journey. It was inspiring to connect with my peers who had similar experiences; it continues to sadden and anger me that so many of us are experiencing these harms, particularly within the mental health system.

Being able to compassionately validate and share our experiences is an important part of healing & moving forward with life. Lived experience & peer support programmes like these are a great way to support us.

Healing Justice LDN - Logo

Institute of Denistry – Research

In my recent blog post I wrote about taking part in a pilot workshop as a lived experience expert, exploring dental healthcare in relation to mental health, particularly amongst young people.

I discovered this research opportunity, hosted at the Institute of Denstry at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London (yep, that was a mouthful) through another research network I joined.

I’m looking forward to further involvement as the project progresses, and appreciate the researchers’ appreciation & value of lived experience input.

Institute of Dentistry - Logo

Lived Experience Research Groups

Are you looking for multiple lived experience voices for your next project?

Using my personal and professional connections in the field, I have access to a range of lived experience networks. I can co-ordinate bringing together a wider lived experience perspective for your project or research.

I previously worked as a youth insight consultant, undertaking research using similar networks and strategies. I’m enjoying transferring these skills to my work with lived experience of complex trauma and would love to bring my insight to related projects.

Current Availability

I have some availability to contribute to new opportunities related to lived experience of complex trauma and severe mental distress. I welcome contact from relevant individuals and organisations – you can contact me here.

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Page last updated: september 2021, by Eleanor