Say hello to Verity, one of the first members to join our Community/Patient Panel. She feels that she can bring expertise of working in mental health, substance misuse and facilitating behavioral change to the panel. Verity also hopes to gain further connections and insight into cancer patient and carer support within West Yorkshire.

Verity, who lives in Leeds, has been working within community healthcare in Yorkshire since 2010. With a background in counselling, she has worked in a variety of roles within domiciliary care, substance misuse, volunteer coordination, peer mentor training, respiratory health and mental health. She is currently a student of Counselling and Psychotherapy at Leeds Beckett University, while working as the Community Team Leader in Wakefield’s Improving Access to Psychological Therapies service. ‘Turning Point Talking Therapies’.

“I have always found myself getting involved on a community level wherever I have worked” she said. “I know that holistic, wrap-around care is the best thing for public health, and I enjoy being resourceful and creative with other local services. I believe that public healthcare should be like a buffet, and that the public should be empowered to make informed and decisions about what they want and need. We need to work together to inform the public, reduce stigma and provide multi-agency support.’

Verity has experienced loss within her family due to cancer, and has a good understanding of the emotional ripple effects a diagnosis can have on the patient, family, care-givers and the wider community. With a risk of cancer running in her family, she is committed to prevention and early detection of health conditions.

She is currently working with a number of projects within the Wakefield District to break down barriers to accessing healthcare and to enable the public to better access self-care. Her special interest groups include, but are not limited to, gender related health, BME and traveller communities, carers, long term conditions and dual diagnosis. She feels that cancer support and treatment should have vital links to self-care and mental wellbeing support for patients, carers, family and health professionals too. She hopes to sow some of the seeds which grow into better relationships and pathways via the panel.

Having previously worked with The British Lung Foundation as well as within substance misuse services, she is aware that stigma around past life choices can seriously impact the likelihood of an individual engaging with the real-time support they need. Verity holds strong views about making sure that health care providers are patient-focused and non-judgemental, in order for patients to feel empowered and engage in their own treatment plans.