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Birmingham and Solihull Mental health NHS Foundation Trust
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Hazel Kench - Public Governor, Solihull

I was elected as Public Governor for Solihull a few months into my retirement in July 2014.  After having worked full-time with a reasonably responsible job, I felt that being a Governor would give me the opportunity to contribute to a service that many years ago, gave me the support that I needed at that time in my life.


During my working life, I worked my way up to becoming a Data Manager responsible for running a Data Input Centre for Birmingham Adult Education Service. This involved collecting and supervising the input of data in order to draw down funding from the Skills Funding Agency to enable the Adult Education Service to continue to offer courses that led to a qualification and some leisure courses.  I had responsibility for the setting and monitoring of benchmarking performance indicators and analysis and presentation of benchmark data to Senior Officers.  I retired from this role in 2007 but went on to work with the team who were responsible for writing, managing and selling the software that enabled customers to claim the funding from the Skills Funding Agency.  My experience in having already worked with the software plus my knowledge of both adult education and understanding the business side made this the ideal job for me!  I worked with the team on testing and training customers up and down the country until I finally retired in March 2014.


With no previous hands on experience of working in Mental Health, I have found the role of Governor, a big learning curve and therefore quite challenging but at the same time enjoyable.  Finding the most effective route for communicating with Service Users is a challenge and one which I am developing day to day. My communication is of upmost importance in order to determine if there are issues that I can present to the Trust Board for discussion representing members within my constituency.


I attend the Trust Board meetings every month and the Council of Governors meetings every 2 months and any other events to support my role as Governor.  I am also a member of the Nomination and Remuneration Committee.


Before I became a Governor, I joined the Birmingham & Solihull Wellbeing Community Choir rehearsing in Chelmsley Wood. This was an additional choir for the Solihull area - the Birmingham strand of the Choir has been in existence since 2009 rehearsing in the B1 building in Ladywood and was funded by the Trust.  The Wellbeing Community Choir was created in order to promote and maintain good mental and physical health through singing.  It is a choir open to the whole community, though aimed at supporting individuals, suffering with, or recovering from a mental illness or chronic medical disability- its appeal is universal. Many members are vulnerable adults who experience difficulties in everyday life and who would otherwise be isolated and socially marginalised. Due to budget cuts, the Trust withdrew their funding in March 2015. Choir members were devastated as in some cases; it was the highlight of their week. As a Governor I was able to draw on the valuable knowledge of other Governors and I was directed to a source where we could apply for external funding.  I was able to do this and we have now received funding to enable us to continue for at least another 12 months.  

Hazel Kench, Solihull Public Governor – Term in office: Aug 2014 - Aug 2017