The CEO of a local charity giving a "voice" to islanders affected by a learning difficulty, dementia or severe mental illness has won a national award for advocating for people's rights and choices.
Patricia Winchester, who has been working as an independent advocate for islanders with complex mental health issues since 2006, has won the Outstanding Advocate Award in the National Advocacy Awards held at the NEC in Birmingham.
Mrs Winchester had been shortlisted for the same award last year and was "thrilled" to win it this time around. "My role is to support individuals to understand and access their rights at a time when they are at their most unwell," she explained.
"But it has also been about challenging services, changing the law and introducing codes of practice. Jersey has now been recognised on a national stage as being at the forefront of advocacy across the UK.”
Pictured: Patricia Winchester has been working as an independent advocate for islanders with complex mental health issues since 2006.
She is the Chief Executive of My Voice Jersey, a charity which works with both adults and children who are severely affected by mental illness or who lack capacity. Earlier this year, the charity was awarded a two-year government contract to help give vulnerable islanders with mental health issues a voice.
My Voice offers support such as ensuring the legal and human rights of islanders are respected, as well as making sure those affected feel listened to, and that they are able to participate as far as possible in decision-making about their care or treatment.
Mrs Winchester campaigned for major changes to the Mental Health law and for the introduction of a new Capacity and Self Determination Law. The latter came into force last October and established a set of legal principles to empower people who lack capacity to make decisions.
Pictured: Mrs Winchester campaigned for major changes to the Mental Health law.
“I am thrilled Patricia has received the recognition she so deserves," Wendy Kinnard, the charity's chair, said. "The award of National Outstanding Advocate celebrates individuals whose work has directly led to significant improvements or change for people. Patricia has helped to raise standards in a number of areas.
“She campaigned to bring our mental health and capacity laws up to date, for improvements in the Mental Health Tribunal and promoted the human rights of patients and others in the community facing severe mental difficulties.
"Patricia continues to show extraordinary commitment, tenacity and passion for advocacy and the difference it can make. We are fortunate to have someone of her calibre working on behalf of some of our most vulnerable individuals in our island.”
Sir Michael Birt, the Patron of the charity, was also delighted for Mrs Winchester. "It is fitting recognition at national level of her vital role in establishing and developing My Voice and in protecting the interests of those in the Island with mental health issues," he said. "Many have benefitted from her wise and sensitive advice and assistance. It is an extremely well-deserved award.”
The Health Minister Deputy Richard Renouf also congratulated My Voice's Chief Executive on her award, saying it recognised "her skills as well as her professionalism and dedication to My Voice." He added: "We can be confident that the services offered to vulnerable islanders who look to the charity for support are of the highest standard.”
Pictured: From left, Kate Mercer, organiser of the conference, Human Rights Lawyer Peter Edwards and Patricia Winchester at the awards ceremony.
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