Zoe, Kendal born and bred, studied at the University of Cumbria and as part of her nursing placement with UHMBT became a Quality Student Ambassador leading a mental health awareness project with young people in Kendal called The Hot Potato Project.
The project, which later expanded to cover Barrow and the rest of Cumbria, was showcased as part of Zoe’s winning award application. Zoe said: “I love visiting the Lake’s and I’m a keen runner and hiker. But it was my love of creative writing and my interest in mental health awareness that proved to be an inspiration for my work on The Hot Potato Project. “Growing up I was very aware this was a topic young people didn’t feel comfortable discussing, either between peers or with healthcare professionals. Outside of work I volunteered to work with Brewery Youth Arts in Kendal, writing scripts and pieces for them to perform. “During that time a young woman within the group took her own life. The distress experienced by fellow members prompted me to take action to help them through this tragedy. The young people required care, support and compassion to cope with the bereavement. In creating workshops that allowed them to express their fears and anxieties it became very clear that they had a voice regarding mental health, so I decided to produce the project aimed at tackling the ’hot potato’ subject of mental health and removing the stigma surrounding it. “Undertaking this project helped me to truly understand the meaning of holistic care and the importance of considering patient wishes, needs and fears. It also helped me to develop the ability to communicate with consideration, compassion and empathy, allowing clients and patients to feel comfortable disclosing what can sometimes be difficult and uncomfortable narratives.”
Reflecting on her placements at UHMBT Zoe said “I’ve absolutely loved training at UHMBT and it inspired me to take up a post with the trust in September. “I’m due to start working as a Staff Nurse at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary on Ward 36 Trauma Orthopaedics. I had a placement on there during my time as a student and really enjoyed the fast-paced environment and multidisciplinary teamwork.
Zoe concluded: “To win the award has been phenomenal and it’s given me greater awareness of the importance of mental wellbeing in the development and overall wellbeing of young people. This experience has shown me what is possible when you empower those you care for, and I’ve developed a deep-seated desire to continuously seek new ventures and opportunities where I can promote good practice.”
Sue Smith Executive Chief Nurse at UHMBT said: “Zoe is a brilliant student role model to peers. She will make a fantastic nurse as she’s committed to providing compassionate care. I’m so happy that Zoe’s care and dedication has been recognised on a national level. All our students are incredibly important as they are our workforce of the future.”