Zoe Fung is the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Lead for Think4Brum, a youth participation group in Forward Thinking Birmingham. The group is made up of inspiring young people who use their own experiences of mental health to help shape our services.
Zoe spoke to us about why they joined the group and about their passion for promoting health equality in mental health services:
What is your role in Think4Brum?
I am Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Lead for Think4Brum; I am a voice for people in the community who are less represented. I'm from an ethnic minority background, so growing up, I was already aware of the differences in care that people from ethnic minorities receive and how there are certain biases and prejudices. These might not always be actively done, but they are there within the system and can lead to individuals, such as myself, to not receiving the level of care they should.
I became more passionate about EDI when I was exploring my own gender and sexuality. During that time, I didn't feel safe in certain spaces and I wanted to contribute to the conversation, share my own experiences and help others realise why EDI is important. I want people to value individuals like me and know we are valid.
Why did you join Think4Brum?
I joined Think4Brum in 2021. When I was first looking to join, I had been struggling with my mental health. I was at university and discovering myself and who I was, while at the same time, national lockdowns were happening and my whole education experience changed.
I felt like the mental health support I received wasn't what it should be, and I thought, how can I contribute to change? How can I help other young people receive better care? I came across Think4Brum. It was an opportunity to have my voice heard and use my experiences to increase understanding and help make positive changes within Mental Health Services.
What is your greatest achievement in Think4Brum?
I loved being a part of the Trust's Pride Table Talks. Members of the LGBTQ+ community, both service users and staff, shared their good and bad healthcare experiences and raised their concerns. It was so empowering listening to their stories, and I was very proud to be a part of the conversation.
“I was also involved in helping to create suicide prevention training for staff members. We used our own experiences and stories to develop scenarios of young people in crisis that would be shown to colleagues to help them understand how we wanted to be helped. It was amazing to have our voices heard and to be able to contribute directly to such an important project; it's what coproduction should be.”
What is it like to be part of the group?
I have a lot more self-confidence, and I feel I can speak up more. It's really helped to improve my communication skills. I'm really thankful for the abilities Think4Brum has given me, but also for the opportunity to hear other people's stories and know you are not alone in the world. It has been very inspiring and empowering.
Why is a group like Think4Brum so important?
We are a voice that needs to be listened to within the service. We've received mental health care and know what is being done right and what can be improved. Our voices are so important; we advocate for young people, and use our experiences to champion positive change.
Want to know more about Think4Brum or interested in joining? Visit the Think4Brum page on our website.