Another month into the year, and we’re heading into brighter weather for April’s edition of Cedar Garden Sessions. As always, Hannah, Digital and Web Manager, interviews a member of the Penny Brohn UK team to find out more about them and the work they do behind the scenes to keep our services up and running.
This month, Hannah speaks with Sophie Jones, who works as the Regional Partnership Manager for the Midlands, developing and running all of our courses in that region.
Thanks for popping down to see us at the National Centre Sophie. It’s great to catch up with you. So tell me, how did you come to work for Penny Brohn UK?
No problem! It’s nice to be here. So, way back in the mists of time, when the Charity was still based in Clifton, I started on a two-week temp assignment as PA to the CEO and wanted to stay on longer. I’ve always had an interest in food, people and health and wellbeing so it felt like a good fit. I joined the press office a few weeks later and worked there through a massive period of change for the Charity, with the re-branding and the move to Pill.
Brilliant! It’s always good to hear from a fellow Comms comrade! [Laughs]
[Laughs] Well, in 2007 started a family and moved to Malvern and away from Penny Brohn UK. I re-joined the Charity as part of the Living Well facilitator team in the Midlands in 2013 and then became part of the National Centre team, as a facilitator and nutritional therapist in 2016. I finally started my current role at the beginning of last year.
Wow! Quite a varied history with the organisation then. So what does your current role involve?
I manage the development and delivery of services across the Midlands and help to sprinkle awareness of Penny Brohn UK services and the Bristol Whole Life Approach where ever I go. I work with local support organisations and charities,l site-specific support groups and NHS Trusts to forge long-term partnerships to deliver Living Well services together. Once I’ve done this, I’m responsible for making sure everything is in place so those services run smoothly; organising all the practical set up and liaising with the National Centre Admin, Bookings, Comms and R&E teams and Midlands facilitator team too.
That’s lots to think about!
It is; and when I am not setting up and delivering services I am often working on outreach activities; speaking at NHS health and wellbeing events, support groups and meetings of healthcare professionals. I work from home and so about half my week I’m out and about and the rest I am a high-speed typing, pinging out emails!
Never a dull moment! But what do you think is the most exciting thing you are working on?
Gosh, it’s hard to choose. There’s lots of new partnerships in the pipeline but right now the Staffordshire project is probably the most exciting thing, as the University Hospitals of the Midlands Trust in Staffordshire have just started to publicly promote our health and wellbeing events. The Trust have been working alongside us in a Macmillan funded project for the last four years, but we have only just reached the stage where they are promoting our events publically on their website, via social media and to the local press.
That is very exciting! And what would you say is your favourite part of the job?
I love the challenge of creating a positive shift in the way mainstream Western culture values health and wellbeing. I place it within a wider process of healing that connects us all to the natural world and each other, recognising our interdependence and the sacredness of all life. I like to keep that bigger picture in mind, but what I enjoy most in the day-to-day is the human interactions; seeing a healthcare professional suddenly ‘get it’ and engage with us and promote our services to their patients, offering people an experience of deep relaxation, (often for the first time in their life!) or hearing a group ‘come alive’ with an open-hearted conversation about what really matters to them about.
That sounds extremely interesting. Is there a moment that stands out to you as a particular highlight of your time at Penny Brohn so far?
There have been so many… getting coverage for the Charity in mainstream media, the Christmas party ceilidh (many moons ago), hosting Alastair Cunningham and offering him a platform to speak an event at the House of Commons in 2007, witnessing some of the profound shifts people have made during courses, lying under the Ginkgo in midsummer feeling the sun, lunch-time dilemmas in the kitchen with Sophie B….
Endless memories to treasure there! So finally, what is your favourite dunkable biscuit?
Ah, apologies, I haven’t dunked a biscuit in many years! I am working to resolve an auto-immune disease and food is a key part of my healing process. This means I am currently grain free and dairy free and only have sugar in the odd bit of dark chocolate, so basically, biscuits are off the menu! But I find other ways of making life sweet… and for those days where I still I want to enjoy a sweet flavour my go to choices are… dried mulberries and raw cacao butter – which is a bit like toffee! – homemade coconut macaroons with dark chocolate chips, and my very own (and now renowned with the Midlands facilitator team) beetroot brownies… But I don’t know how you’re going to add this to the bar chart??!!
My mouth is watering at the sound of those!! You’ll have to share the recipes with us for our website.
Oh, I am more than happy to do so!
Fab! Thanks Sophie.