2021 marks the 40th staging of the Great North Run. In celebration, organisers are also hosting the Great North Thank You to recognise the hard work and dedication of people who have gone above and beyond to help others in their community throughout the pandemic.
Following the celebration of Sergeant Tom Power, one of our Mental Health Concern volunteers, as part of the official Great North Thank You, we have been inspired to recognise more of the amazing people within our organisation who have also gone above and beyond during the pandemic.
Firstly, we would like to acknowledge the amazing work of Michelle Ree, one of our community wellbeing team leads, who went above and beyond to ensure that we could continue to maintain contact with the people we support – and even reach more people, despite the COVID-19 restrictions.
Michelle also recruited and supported an additional team of volunteers through a new partnership with Newcastle City Council, which increased the size of her team ten-fold. Through this partnership, Michelle supported the referral of over 500 new people who needed support during the pandemic.
Michelle coordinated her team to support people who were shielding or isolating by sending out wellbeing boxes, delivering groceries, helping people to access bank cards so they could arrange online shopping, collecting prescriptions, telephone befriending, and teaching people how to use technology so they could stay in touch with loved ones. This work ensured that the most vulnerable people in our community received essential supplies and social connection.
The next fantastic person who we would like to celebrate is Yvonne Matthewson, one of our 24-hour adult nursing clinical leads. Yvonne was nominated because of her amazing dedication to helping people who suffer from mental ill-health throughout her 47-year career in nursing. For the past 26 of these 47 years, Yvonne has been a member of the Mental Health Concern team, where she has worked selflessly to support people experiencing mental ill-health in our 24-hour nursing services. Her polite, unassuming, and friendly manner endears her to everyone she meets.
Yvonne’s selflessness has never been more evident than during the pandemic. Despite her own personal challenges, she puts the people she helps at the heart of everything she does, making unimaginable personal sacrifices. Yvonne has been a key frontline worker throughout the pandemic and during this time she has never missed a shift!
Yvonne’s enthusiasm and desire to help people is unwavering. Throughout the pandemic Yvonne sought innovative and creative ways to help and support people, despite the restrictions in place.
For instance, when one of Yvonne’s service users needed to go into hospital over Christmas and New Year, Yvonne understood how lonely being in hospital over the festive period can be, especially during lockdown when no family visits were allowed. So Yvonne went out of her way to keep in regular telephone contact with the service user and liaised with the ward to allow her to regularly visit the person as a mental health professional, often after having done an extended shift in her own job!
As is the case with many healthcare workers, Yvonne embodies modesty, compassion, and humility.
Yvonne retired in July 2021 after an incredible career in the NHS and the charity sector. However, she has since selflessly returned to work part-time in order to support the current crisis in healthcare recruitment.
The final amazing person who we would like to celebrate is Duncan Wright, a member of the housekeeping team at Pinetree Lodge, one of our dementia nursing homes. Duncan has been nominated by his colleagues because they have been inspired by his hard work and dedication throughout the pandemic.
Duncan is one of Mental Health Concern’s longest serving members of staff. His colleagues would like to recognise his hard work and dedication, not just during the pandemic, but throughout his whole career. As a member of the housekeeping team, Duncan has had to cope with the pressures of an increased cleaning regime due to the pandemic, but has adapted and responded well to new ways of working in order to help keep residents and staff safe.
Duncan’s colleagues at Pinetree explain that when he first joined their team, he was quite shy and kept to himself. Subsequently, his colleagues have been supporting him by encouraging him to get involved in team meetings and forums, and
Duncan’s colleagues have praised is dedication and motivation, describing him as hardworking, always happy and friendly, as well as punctual and motivated. We would like to acknowledge all of Duncan’s efforts during the pandemic and his dedication to keeping the residents of our nursing homes safe through infection control. We would also like to celebrate his personal development and increased self-confidence.