I am the Managing Director of Cardiff-based café bars, Kin+Ilk. I’ve also been working with Platfform since 2011 and am Chair of the Board of Trustees.
I’m from a small village called Bedwas and worked as a qualified solicitor for twenty-two years before becoming an entrepreneur. Despite having a successful career I have experienced difficulties with my mental health. Not many people would have been aware of these difficulties because I was able to hide them but as time went on my struggles with OCD became worse.
A lot of people associate OCD with cleaning, or hoarding but for me, it’s intrusive thoughts. Ironically, the thoughts seem to spike when good things happen; during extremely happy milestones or when new responsibilities occur.
I was able to push through to a certain point but following a particularly difficult time I looked into talking therapies. Once I found the right therapist this quite honestly saved my life.
Talking therapies and mindfulness are my go to tools when things get on top of me – I think it’s so important that people don’t ignore the signs of mental distress. There are tools and coping strategies that can help you to feel better. Mindfulness is brilliant for OCD. You can’t have two thoughts at once. If you continually live in the moment, you can’t look forward or back.
In October 2018 I helped open Platfform’s new counselling and wellbeing centre called Breathe. Based in Cardiff, it’s a unique space that allows people to access counselling and wellbeing activities.
All profits are reinvested into Platfform’s work meaning that Breathe can offer low-cost counselling to people who are on low incomes or are unemployed. Not everyone can afford counselling but everyone should have access to its benefits, we should all be able to get the help and support we need to look after our mental health.
My main aim for being Chair for Platfform is to leave a legacy. The current approaches to support people when they face challenges with their mental health don’t work. That’s why we transformed our strategy and why we plan to be constructively disruptive when we look at the current system. We have no restrictions on our ambitions, it’s a very exciting time to be a part of the movement for change.