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Two inspirational professionals at South Staffordshire and Shropshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (SSSFT) have been shortlisted in the West Midlands Combined Authority Mental Health Commission Thrive Awards.

These awards mark the first year of the Thrive West Midlands Programme by celebrating the ground-breaking work being done across the region to improve mental health and wellbeing.

Laura Hawkins recently took on a ward manager role at The Redwoods Centre, Shrewsbury and has worked hard to ensure patients have the best possible care experience as well as supporting and developing staff. Willow Ward is part of SSSFT’s forensic service and is a low secure unit. However, within these parameters Laura has promoted an environment where conditions are as least restrictive as possible and encouraged staff to be more positive about taking risk, based on careful assessment. This approach, achieved in partnership with service users, has improved conditions for patients and allowed them more access to activities such as time spent in the garden area and mobile phone use, greatly improving their quality of life. Laura has also promoted the Recovery College on the ward and influenced two service users to contribute significantly to the delivery of courses.

Sarah Watts is the clinical lead for the wellbeing service in Tamworth and Lichfield which delivers IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies). She has led the merger of two separate services with different clinical models across three geographies and has created a team with a shared vision and consistent training and service delivery. Driven by her commitment to improve service user experience she is integrating primary care physical health staff from other organisations into one clinical team to support people with long term physical conditions such as diabetes and respiratory conditions, and associated psychological problems. Sarah led a successful bid to secure additional funding and has been able to appoint a further 21 members of staff to provide recovery focused, evidence based treatments regardless of the nature or severity of people’s problems - no one is unsuitable. The service is co-located with physical healthcare wherever possible and groups are run in community locations such as a local Tesco store so that people do not feel any stigma in attending.

Neil Carr, Chief Executive of SSSFT said “It is wonderful to see two such excellent colleagues being recognised in this way. Both Laura and Sarah would consider they are just doing their job but we are delighted they are being seen as the Mental Health Stars they are.”

The awards ceremony will take place on 31 January 2018.