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A voice to soothe the stigma

10 October 2019

A woman who works alongside Health and Community Services to champion the rights of islanders suffering from poor mental health has been shortlisted for a national award.

Patricia Winchester acts as an independent advocate for islanders with complex mental health issues to help them understand options available to them and protect their rights. She has been shortlisted for the second year in a row for the Outstanding Advocate award in the National Advocacy Awards, held every October to recognise contributions to advocacy and promoting people’s rights.

“I’m delighted to be shortlisted to the final four for this prestigious award,” said Patricia. “It’s fantastic for Jersey that we are recognised on the national stage for the work that we do here in the island, and I believe it’s good for the Government of Jersey to have commissioned a service which commands such respect.”

Patricia has worked with people suffering from severe mental illness health services for more than 13 years and is chief executive officer of My Voice, a mental health and capacity advocacy charity which promotes and protects the rights and choices of people suffering from a mental illness or disorder, and those who may lack capacity.

“We work hard to promote equality and challenge stigma and discrimination,” said Patricia. “It is recognised nationally that mental health advocacy must be structurally independent in order to fulfil its role without perceived or real conflict with service providers. We, as My Voice, are widely recognised and respected as being at the forefront of lobbying.”

Patricia worked alongside other agencies to initiate, develop and draft the new Mental Health law and the new Capacity and Self Determination law, which came into effect on 1 October 2018.

The Minister for Health, Deputy Richard Renouf, said: “I congratulate Patricia on being shortlisted for this prestigious national award. Health and Community Services recognise the diligent, caring and professional approach Patricia has adopted to the valuable work of an independent advocate promoting and protecting the rights of islanders with mental health needs.”

My Voice Jersey was commissioned by HCS in January to provide independent advocacy services to people suffering serious mental illness on an initial two-year contract. My Voice chairperson Wendy Kinnard said that Patricia’s nomination was “excellent news” for Jersey.

“I am delighted Patricia has been nominated again this year for national outstanding advocate,” she said. “To have attained one of the four places on the shortlist from more than 50 candidates is something to be really proud of and demonstrates the esteem in which Patricia is held among professionals working in mental health advocacy locally and nationally. It is a great personal achievement for Patricia and I wish her every success in the final selection.”

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