We are catching up with Louise John, Manager of our Charity, Caring Minds. In this Five Minutes With, we get to learn more about Louise’s philanthropic past and why she decided to work in the not-for-profit sector full time. This interview is packed full of feel-good stories, pictures from the past, and it also alludes to our latest charitable challenge, Walk 3K Per Day In May.
To find out more about this challenge and to get to learn a little bit about Louise, read her full interview below.
If after reading this article, you feel inspired to take up May’s fundraising challenge, why not tag three friends to join you too!
Hi Louise, please could you tell us about yourself and your role at BSMHFT?
After trying out many jobs in my younger years, I never really got that feeling of job satisfaction that I was looking for, and although I made some wonderful friends and memories along the way, I never really settled on a career, until I decided to do some charity work in my spare time. Once I got a feel for organising events and fundraising, I knew that was what I wanted to do full time.
My career in fundraising has been really varied, from the work I did for LUCIA (Life Uplifted by Change In Africa) where I fundraised to help build a children’s library in Ethiopia, a highlight of this time for me was meeting the children in Ethiopia who would benefit from this, I learned such a lot from them and their families, as those who have so little, have so much to give. In my time at Get A-Head, a head and neck cancer charity, I met some truly selfless and inspiring people, who despite their own struggles, wanted to help others, we did some amazing fundraising events, including Kayaking from Solihull to London on the Grand Union Canal, and supported ground breaking equipment for Maxillofacial treatments to name a few. When the job opportunity for BSMHFT Charity Manager came up, I knew I wanted to use my experience and passion to develop the Caring Minds charity and support those receiving mental health care.
My ambition for the charity is to raise our profile, increase fundraising activity, drive donations and be able to support and enhance our service users’ experience while they are receiving mental health care. Caring Minds support things that are considered over and above NHS provision.
You’ve briefly touched on your experience of working for other charity sectors, why did you choose to work for the NHS specifically?
I’ve always respected the NHS, I think it is wonderful and we are all incredibly lucky to have it so readily available. I have personally received amazing care at different times in my life, for which I am extremely grateful of. Working to support NHS staff and service users is a real privilege. I believe it takes a special person to work for the NHS, because in the face of such adversity, each and every one of us truly does care.
What is your favourite part about your role?
Being able to see first-hand the difference we are making; with the things we are able to support. To see smiles on faces of loved ones, sharing a special moment at a one of our funded events, or to hear positive updates from our teams on the use of new gardening or gym equipment that we have funded. It is also great to be able to offer support to our staff, with areas such as reflective gardens, and places for them to take time out for themselves.
Sadly, the NHS cannot provide the creature comforts that most people crave during their admissions, small things like holding a buffet with a variety of cultural foods, sharing music or funding different games can really transform a service user’s experience with us. It makes my job worthwhile seeing people’s spirits lifted.
Do you have any exciting campaigns running at the moment that our readers should be aware of?
Glad you asked! May is National Walking Month. I have been at the Trust for 12 months now and there is still so much for me to learn. I thought it would be a great opportunity for me to get out in the month of May and set myself a target of doing a three-kilometre walk around our sites each day. I am calling it ‘3K per Day In May’.
I’ll be encouraging staff to join me for a ‘Walk’n’talk’ across the Trust’s sites to get to understand more about the things they need and to learn more about their services. You don’t have to be a staff member to take part. If you or a loved one has received exceptional care from the Trust and would like to fundraise, please donate £3 to our JustGiving link and get your steps in!
How do you look after your own mental health and wellbeing?
The last couple of years have been quite challenging for me personally. I think ultimately, exercise is a natural endorphin for me, it’s a mood booster. I enjoy weight training and boxing, my dad was a boxer so I’ve learnt my skills from him! I love to get out in the fresh air and spend quality time with my son, we are two peas in a pod and I am extremely lucky to have a supportive and loving family and my mum has always been my biggest supporter in life.
I think it’s incredibly important to talk, talking really helps me to deal with my emotions, I also try to be a good listener, talking and sharing experiences can open dialogue with others that may be looking to reach out.
Can you tell us one thing about yourself that people might not know.
I am scared of heights so if you couple that with two things I have done, they are huge achievements for me. I climbed Machu Pichu – yes climbed, I didn’t get the bus! I spent three weeks in South America in total, exploring the sites before I ultimately did the four-day trek up Machu Pichu. It was incredible and is one of the seven wonders for a reason, I even have the stamp in my passport.
I also skydived for charity years ago, terrifying, but also incredible. To be sat on the edge of the open plane about to freefall from 12,000 feet is a feeling I will never forget! Would I ever do it again? Nooo! But I will always look back on that experience with great pride.
Published: 20 April 2023