My name is Lewis Chambers. I’m a Mental Health support worker and I work for the Dorset Health Care University Foundation Trust at a Hospital Called the Linden Unit, which is located in Weymouth Dorset.
Mental Illness can be complex and there are many interventions to help people through difficult times. Our aim at Fight Back is to co-inside with medication and help people develop new independent skills through exercise and healthy living. The environment we use is non-clinical and our approach is laid back whilst maintaining a professional and therapeutic relationship with all the individuals using the service we provide.
I have always been keen to use exercise as a form of recovery and wanted to develop this idea further. I asked two colleagues Vaughan Fellowes and Matt Rees if they would be up for a little project which luckily they both were.
I have boxed for Weymouth on and off for about 15 years and have seen the changes it can make to people’s wellbeing. So with this in mind I wanted to incorporate boxing and mental health. I spoke to the Weymouth amateur boxing committee who were more than happy to allow me to use the facilities free of charge every Monday morning. I then ran my idea past some of the patients on the ward to see if they thought my idea would be something they would be interested in. With great feedback I promptly spoke to my manager and got the ball rolling.
We faced some barriers in terms of people who did not appreciate the idea of bringing boxing in to the world of mental health thinking this was controversial. This was quickly dispelled when explaining that the world of mental health is everywhere and anywhere and like mental health we will not discriminate. It was our intention to bring support to areas that may be overlooked.
With a little bit of help from the local media Fight Back Mental Health started its journey. We now run every Monday morning from 10am to midday, and we're open to everyone: inpatients, outpatients, carers, friends and family and those who wish to generally keep fit.
The first hour of the group is based around boxing and teaching people the basic skills ready for them to progress on at their own pace. We then move forward with a full circuit developed for beginners all the way to athletes. We spend the last half hour of the session doing a focus and recovery group, offering people a little bit of extra support outside of hospital. The Group is free for all people wishing to use it and is run by five volunteer’s: myself, Vaughan, Matt and also Kelly and Nick our peer specialists.
A normal turn out for Fight Back Mental Health can be anything from 10 up to 30 people.
We have had great success with the group and now work closely with Tonic Music For Mental Health and in 2014 we did a charity music event in Weymouth with the Dub Pistols headlining the event. Fight Back Mental Health rose over £1,500 pounds for Tonic Music. We did this by doing a triathlon and by organising the event with the help from Tonic.
Next year we are already discussing another music event to raise money for Tonic, Vaughan Fellows is doing a duathlon in January, the guys at the club will be doing another triathlon in April and we will also be climbing up Snowdonia with our partially sighted member Janice and her trusty guide dog, who is also our new mascot.
We now have two amazing peer specialists Nick Vine and Kelly Robinson who started out by coming to Fight Back Mental Health as outpatients. After showing huge dedication to the group they are now representing Fight Back Mental Health in the ring as two full licenced amateur boxers.
If I was to advise somebody who had an idea and wanted to take it further. It would be to just do it. Let the negative comments drive you forward and your mistakes guide you to your success.
If you’d like to contact us or find out more about Fight Back Mental Health, then please visit our Facebook page.