Georgina Wakefield is an inspiration!
Her teaching advocacy and communication skills are second to none. I have employed her repeatedly to train CCG Mental Health Leaders, Medical Directors, and other clinicians.
Her sessions are invariably rated at the top of all course teachers .
She is a tremendous force for good, and a gifted creative, warm colleague, I very much recommend her work.
Dr Geraldine Strathdee is the National Clinical Director for Mental Health, NHS England.
I just wanted to thank you for your very informative talk from a carers perspective which you gave us yesterday. I was one of the nurses in the class and felt very emotional hearing about the difficult journey that you have all had to travel to get to where you are today.
As parents, you are an inspiration to others who have children in similar circumstances and I shall certainly be recommending that any carers I work with in the future read the work that you have written to try and help them cope with their struggles.
I am sure that if it wasn't for the love, support and care that you have given Christian over the years he would be in a very different place today.
All the very best in your journey ahead and I hope Christian continues to recover and live as full a life as possible.
Eileen Mcgough, CPN SLAM
Georgie and I have worked together on a number of projects, not least of which was around the production of a Carers Resource (DVD and booklet) for families of people experiencing mental health and drug problems. With over 11000 copies out there, and numerous downloads, I often get contacted by carers who have been touched and influenced by the material. Georgie’s honesty and ability to communicate not only the frustrations but the real positive contribution that families do make every day, is inspiring. Georgie takes her everyday experience (and that of her loving and close family) and helps us understand how this drives her to create her story, a story that changes people’s lives.
There are no hidden messages. No need to read between the lines. Georgie is one of a small number of people that I have met who is truly driven by a desire to demand change in systems that often struggle to support carers and families. She does this by providing arguments that are engaging and considered, and builds creative and accessable solutions – Georgie can work with audiences of hundreds, or intimately with a few individuals. Either way, the outcome is the same – Georgie helps us to connect and gives us some clues as to how families and carers can remain resilient.
Tom Dodd, IAPT Primary Care Lead/National Dual Diagnosis Programme Lead
Georgie has the ability to help people to really understand the nuts and bolts of mental illness and of being a carer. She is articulate and has a wonderful way with words that helps people to see exactly how it is.
Importantly Georgie can also see the funny side of things so that her audience are enthralled and interested. I know from feedback from delegates that she really makes them want to make a difference.
Well done Georgie you deserve success.
Sandra Taylor, Pre Professional Training Manager, South Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust
I have had the honour and pleasure of working with Georgie and her family for over 9 years. During this time she has become an essential and integral component of all the nurse education programmes in which I have worked.
Georgie and Paul have an extremely strong commitment to reducing the stigma associated with mental health problems and use a variety of personal experiences, poetry, honesty and humour in conveying the messages that health care professionals and members of the public need to hear. They have been involved in all aspects of clinical skills training including: advising on the content of programmes, assessing clinical skills, participating in live clinical skills demonstrations, facilitating debate and demystifying working with carers. Their approach encourages lively discussion and establishes a grounding on which practitioners feel safe to be able to ask honest questions and receive frank and accurate advice.
The family currently regularly contribute to both pre-registration and post registration nurse education at Canterbury Christ Church University, they also attend programme planning meetings in an advisory capacity and provide guidance on clinical research programmes.
Dan Bressington, Senior Lecturer in Mental Health, Canterbury Christ Church University
I have known Georgina Wakefield for a number of years in the capacity of supporting this organisation in moving our Customer Service Strategy forward. Georgie and her husband, Paul, have been instrumental in helping us take this very important agenda forward, which has resulted in a various spin-offs for this organisation, in that we are far more customer service focused among our service users, carers, and other members of the community. In addition, Georgie has actively supported this organisation with its Anti-Stigma Campaign and participates in activities, not only within the organisation itself, but also in external events organised by the Trust.
One of Georgie’s biggest strengths is her ability to get Clinicians on her side and, as a result of the work Georgie has done with us, we now have regular meetings with Consultants, Junior Doctors, Senior Nursing staff and Therapists. Georgie meets with them and they appreciate her experience, as she has a son with mental health problems, and they can benefit from lessons learned from a parent’s point of view, and how professionals can be more pro-active in supporting service users, carers, and other interested parties in addressing Anti-Stigma and promoting a Wellbeing and Recovery Model of Service, rather than the traditional Service.
Georgie also participates in all our induction programmes, where she helps introduce new members of staff to our value base within the Trust, which is very much centred on high quality services and putting the service user at the heart of everything we do.
Overall Georgie has made a significant impact on SEPT’s ability to be one of the leading Mental Health and Learning Disability Trusts in the country and I believe, because of her energy and her passion, no matter what organisation or project Georgie becomes involved in, she will make a success of it.
Patrick Geoghegan, Chief Executive South Essex Partnership NHS Foundation University Trust
My first meeting with Georgie was at a Carer's Seminar. I had been told about her work but we had never met. A smiling,colourfully dressed woman entered the room and I instinctively knew it was her. Georgie appeared to know practically everybody. Her countenance and attitude exuded warmth.This was the beginning of a friendship with a kindred spirit which has grown in strength. I am the carer of my adult son. Carers of loved ones who are mentally ill contact her from all over the world. She is generous to a fault about the time spent on the telephone giving support to carers who feel devastated by their contact with schizophrenia. Georgie always finds the time to give empathy, compassion and hope to people who are terrified of this illness.
Knowledgeable on all aspects of schizophrenia her wide expertise is often sought after. Do I make her sound almost saintlike? She would be the first to laugh at this. Georgie is just a normal mum who has had to watch her dear son suffer from this horrendous illness. She is passionate about her subject,her poems have been published and are un-putdownable for anyone sharing her sorrow. My life has been made the richer for meeting her although she would be the first to agree that we met for quite the most hostile reason. Her work, her driven passion, her outgoing and cheerful attitude,her desire to make people aware of the general stigma surrounding mental illness should all be recognised in the Queen's honour's list. She is undoubtedly the Carer's Champion.
Elizabeth Beaty, Mental Health Carer
Though I have tried to imagine what having schizophrenia, or caring for someone with schizophrenia, might be like, I had never managed this fully until I heard Georgina Wakefield speak. Words like “raw”, “honest”, “inspiring”, “fascinating” or “touching” could never do her justice. Writer’s block has taken hold as I sit here, staring at my computer screen, completely unable to convey in words the effect she has. Perhaps if I tell you that I had never before cried in a lecture. That were I ever in danger of seeing schizophrenia as a well-circumscribed entity I never will be again. That, though I have felt desperately sad for parents and spouses of my patients, seeing many families leave the wards in uncontrollable floods of tears, my empathy is now magnified a hundredfold.From a Junior Doctor at St Clements Mile End
Georgie tells it like it is-but in the most effective way possible. When we want someone to stand in a carers shoes, to see life through their eyes Georgie is the person to do it. Her approach takes you right up to the moment she is talking about-when things have gone wrong, when things are scary, when someone helps, when something doesn’t , the kind words and the hurtful comments, when the past hurt won’t go away and when the hopes [and dreams] for the future are brightest, you are there under the spotlight watching it all unfold before you. Her work is empathy personified and very effective as well as being moving and inspirational.
Mike Waddington Patient and Public Involvement Manager South Essex Partnership University Foundation Trust
I am pleased and feel honoured that you asked me to offer a letter of appreciation to the life’s work that you do for mental illness.
My son started to suffer from psychosis in the August of 2004, and all the services said to me was that my son was suffering from psychosis (what ever that meant) and the two options were to take my son home and make sure that my son took the medication that they prescribed or for my son to voluntarily have a stay in hospital. As I did not know how the system worked and being totally beside myself, there was not any choice there for me to make.
The guidance that I was given was that the level of rehabilitation that my son had achieved in two years was as good as I was going to get.
I was a single female parent of eight stone looking after a highly aggressive fourteen stone lad, in fear of my life 24/7. I did not know what way to turn.
Somehow my son and I made it through for a whole year, with little to no help from the services and social worker. I then approached my son’s social worker to obtain information on psychosis. The social worker then booked me to attend a conference on mental health.
To my relief there was, Georgina Wakefield. She gave her life story of herself and Christian and in the process took me out of the darkness and into the light. She showed me the way forward, the steps to take, to always keep positive, never give up hope, and to fight for the rights of my son to get him back to recovery. She taught me to do everything that I can do when it needed to be done to get my son back his full potential.
Georgina has been my rock in this terrible illness that my son, and indeed I, are both going through. She is an inspiration to all carers of sufferers as well as the professionals.
On a final note, Georgina brings us all together to achieve a significant impact on the recovery and well being of the mentally ill.
Elaine Soden, Mental Health Carer