Gill, an Administrator for the Paignton and Brixham Health and Social Care team has kindly shared her experience of using the Devon Wellbeing Hub. The Hub provided vital support to Gill in the months leading up to her son Chris’ death and afterwards. She wants to share her story to encourage others to talk about their feelings and reach out for help if they’re struggling.
What made you get in touch with the Devon Wellbeing Hub?
When I first got in touch I was struggling with a bad situation involving my son who was going through a terrible mental health crisis. He began having seizures and we found out he was starting to drink very heavily. It was just getting worse and worse. He was living in London and I had to take a lot of time off work to see him. Work and my line manager have been extremely supportive, but it got to the stage where I was stressed and I really needed help.
One day I was stood at the photocopier at work and saw a poster for the Devon Wellbeing Hub and thought I’d give it a try. Straight away I was put in touch with Emerald Hughes, a Colleague Wellbeing Practitioner.
What support did you receive?
Emerald helped me look at things from a different angle and showed me how to change my thinking. It didn’t take the situation away but it helped me to deal with it. I instantly felt a connection with her; one of the reasons may be because she’s around the same age as my son. She is very easy to talk to and felt I could tell her exactly how I was feeling.
Sadly, on April 10, my son passed away. Emerald was among one of the first people I told. I tried bereavement counselling but it just wasn’t for me and there was a long waiting list.
I spent a long time talking to Emerald about guilt and where that feeling has come from. She reassured me that it’s perfectly natural to feel that way.. It’s been a journey and I feel Emerald has been there with me every step of the way. She gave me advice on how to deal with my thoughts and emotions, as well as tools to help me move on. The alternative would have been to give up and Emerald has definitely kept me going on the right path. She has genuine compassion and empathy for people and their situations.
Emerald also put me in touch with Senior Chaplain, Barbara Carpenter, for pastoral care alongside our sessions. She provides a listening ear rather than giving advice. I’m still in touch with her now. Every time I speak to her I come away with something and she helps me make sense of things. She is very understanding of the grieving process and validates how I’m feeling. I can say things to her that I wouldn’t say to anybody because I know she’ll listen without judgement.
The fact the Hub is external support is a huge benefit. A lot of my colleagues have been very supportive but some days I just want to work and forget about it for a few hours. Also, there are things I feel I couldn’t say to people I know well, not because I’d feel judged, but just because it’s a different type of relationship.
What do you think the impact would have been without the support from the Hub?
I can honestly say I would not have got through these last few months without Emerald and Barbara. I would have needed some sort of intervention from my GP which I didn’t want. I just needed someone to talk to and to feel listened to and the Hub did exactly that.
Would you recommend the Hub to colleagues?
Definitely. I recommended it to one of my work colleagues recently who’s going through a difficult time. I’m aware different things help different people but reaching out for support is so important.
The Hub has helped me so much and it’s a service that needs to be carried on. Long may it continue!
What advice would you give to people who may be struggling?
My advice for anybody would be to find the right person first of all and get your feelings out there. If you can’t say it, write it down. Chris always wanted to help other people. He couldn’t help himself sadly, but if he was here now he’d be happy to know his story may help others to reach out for support. Don’t suffer in silence. Whatever it is, somebody will listen.
Emerald said: “It’s lovely to get feedback from the people that we work with, and it really highlights the difference that seeking support can make.
“The work that we do in the Hub is incredibly diverse, and I’d encourage anyone feeling like they need support to reach out. The great thing about our service is that no two days are the same, and we’re able to tailor our work to meet your specific needs. Lots of the people that I speak with just need a space to talk freely and work things out with an objective person, while others might be seeking guidance around accessing more formal services.
“Colleagues in the caring professions are amazing at supporting others, but sometimes we do this to the detriment of our own wellbeing. We’re here to help, and can give you the confidential, judgement free space to help you through whatever it is that you’re struggling with.”
Get in touch:
If you work in healthcare, social care or the police in Devon and would like free, confidential wellbeing support, please get in touch by calling 0300 303 5455, email email@example.com, or fill out the simple referral form on the Devon Wellbeing Hub website.
If you’ve been supported by the Hub and would like to share your experience, please get in touch with Lauren Batten, Staff Wellbeing Communications and Engagement Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org