Like many of my colleagues working in complementary medicine, this is my second career. Between 1991 and 2011 I was a Metropolitan Police Officer, working first as a response officer in busy south London boroughs and then as a detective Sergeant in various strategic Intelligence roles.
In 2008 I suffered what would become a prolonged period of ill health as the effects of stress took their toll on me. As a result of this experience I discovered two things. The first was acupuncture. I was offered what I now understand to be a very simple ear needle protocol to help with the stress and went from absolute sceptic to convert in one session. The second was peer support. Having acknowledged the need for help I found that whilst my employer provided some (limited and stretched) occupational health services, what was lacking was someone I could speak to who could relate to me and share experiences. I decided to take the initiative and approached the police Disabled Staff Association. With their support I started a support group and the response right from the first advert was almost overwhelming. Through this work I saw first hand the impact of non judgemental, honest and open conversation and its a testament to this that the group I established then is still part of the Police infrastructure almost 10 years on.
When I left the Police service I decided to pursue a career in health and wellbeing. I considered many different pathways but my experience of mental health and the limited treatment options had developed an interest conditions that are poorly understood. I have an enormous amount of respect for science and medicine (my sister is a Doctor) but when I started to study the subject in more depth I was surprised at how many gaps there are in understanding. Long term conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, chronic fatigue, chronic pain, infertility, all heavily invested, well researched and with huge amounts of scientific data but still, often, with substantial gaps in knowledge. My interest in this field led me to the world of complementary medicine where I found the holistic approach to health made a lot of sense.
I studied my Bachelor of Science in Acupuncture at the Northern College of acupuncture graduating in 2013 with first class honours. I set up my practise in Ely the same year and have enjoyed a busy and varied clinic at Ely Complementary Health Centre treating a whole range of conditions including: Musculoskeletal pain, (lower back particularly but not exclusively) fertility support, mental health, chronic fatigue, sinusitis and general wellbeing (this is not an exhaustive list).
In 2017 I decided to replicate the mental health work I had done with the Metropolitan Police Service and launched local organisation Talking FreELY. In a little under a year we have hosted 3 public events, one young persons event at Ely College, hosted renowned speakers including natasha Devon MBE and Hope Virgo and held informal conversations about mental health with hundreds of people. Its early days for us but there are big plans afoot for Talking FreELY as we develop and deliver my model for mental health peer support across the county and one day, perhaps, beyond.
Outside of work Im kept busy with a large family. I enjoy spending time with my kids in the Dojo, where we study Karate together, and in the fresh air.