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Birmingham and Solihull Mental health NHS Foundation Trust
Better Together
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Faheem Uddin

I started volunteering with the Trust in 2003, with the See Me team, helping them out and I then went on to join their steering group for a year before being part of their management committee.

A year later I was asked to join the Positive Mental Health Group, which I have been chairing for the past few years.

With most people, when they move on to a new position, they leave their old position behind, but I have kept hold of everything I was doing before. People are always telling me “You promised us you won’t leave us.” I’m a firm believer in loyalty and so I’ve stuck by those promises.

 When the Trust applied to become a foundation trust I was asked to go along and sign up as a member, but a week after that people started touting my name for the service user governor role. I was told by someone at the time that I was ‘governor material’, and so I went for it and got elected! 

Faheem Uddin - Service User Governor

My role as Service User Governor varies. I get phone calls from service users with all kinds of issues and most of the time I help by signposting them in the right direction, either to our PALS service, the team manager or Trust Board. 

In November 2013 I was elected as the Lead Governor for the Trust. It was an emotional moment as I didn’t expect to get it. I think the reason I was elected was because I have a strong belief that service users, carers and staff are all in it together and it’s a partnership - that is at the heart of everything I do.

The first three or four months of the role were difficult, but people have stuck by me the whole way. I couldn’t believe the positivity towards me during this time. I couldn’t name everyone as I’d get into trouble missing someone out but, to anyone that knows me, I just want to thank you for all your support. I do find myself being very busy but I always have time for anyone who wants a chat. I’ve said before that I class the people I work with as my second family and I will always have time for them.

As a Lead Governor I am one of the first points of contact for the Council of Governors, including communication with our regulators, Monitor. It is a major role and I have made a few little changes as I try and make it my own, but I do plan to hold on to the good things that our previous Lead Governor, Darren Cooper, did.

If I can be half as good as him, then I think I’ll have done a good job. I give everything 100% and try and do things to the best of my ability.

I still try and get other service users involved. With the last set of elections I told a few people to go for the Service User Governor role and I’d give them my support, but they kept saying “No Faheem. We’ve already got you there.”

However I do want other service users to get involved and look at me as an example – if I can do it, anyone can. I’ve been in the system for 30 years and I’m putting something back in now.

The NHS is facing challenging and uncertain times, and our Trust is no different.
The last year has been particularly difficult and testing but we all – and when I say ‘all’, I mean ‘all’ - need to stick together and pull in the same direction.

Outside of the Trust I love my football and my cricket. I’ve played both sports since I was about 8 years old and I was captain, coach and chair of my cricket team once. My son is 11 years old and he loves both football and cricket and he keeps telling me that he wants to play in the same team as me for one year, so I haven’t retired just yet!

Most of my weekends are spent watching TV, or spending time with my wife and two children. You might also see me at events or festivals with the Positive Mental Health Group – just recently we had a stall at the Moseley festival which was great.