Hello and WELCOME to PsychAssist! This week’s guest article comes from Stacey Pyle who has gone from No A-Levels to Building Her Own Mental Health Service. She previously struggled for years with her own mental health and found herself in her mid-20’s HOMELESS and a single mother of 3. Despite all adversities, she persevered to gain an access course to medicine where she received a DISTINCTION which subsequently led to an unconditional offer to study psychology. Stacey refuses to settle for the ordinary and is about to launch her own mental health service called “The Foundation Centre” which is backed by the Princes Trust. This is her story so far….
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My name is Stacey Pyle and I am 30 years old. I am a mum of 3, a wife, an undergraduate student studying Psychology at the University of Derby, a mental health support worker at a secure hospital and I am the founder of The Foundation Centre. It may seem like a lot of hats for 1 person to wear, and at times it can be difficult, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I have always had an interest in mental health that stemmed from my own personal experiences. I had difficulties growing up and as a result I became a very insecure individual who didn’t seem to ‘fit in’ socially. I had ideas about what I wanted to do and who I wanted to be, but it conflicted with who I thought I was and what I thought I could achieve. I got my first job at 13 years old as a Saturday girl in a hair salon and I left school with poor grades. I managed to get a job in a hotel and secure a place at college to study a diploma in Music, but pressures at home meant I dropped out. I switched jobs frequently as I was never happy with my position and I knew that I wanted more. At the age of 20, I fell pregnant was married but this meant that I had to relocate as my husband was a serving member of the Armed Forces. I gave up employment to become a stay at home mum and ‘army wife’ and this would be the best and worst thing I ever did.
I developed post-natal depression and struggled with my mental health for several years. I moved to Germany on a posting order with the Army and the isolation had a negative effect on my mental health. I discovered I was pregnant with my second child and had a moment of mental clarity where I decided that I wouldn’t allow myself to continue to live like this, and I began to accept my situation for what it was, focussing my attention onto other things. It was at this point that I wanted to find something to fulfil my time, to distract myself from the negativity that surrounded me, which is when I set up a non-profit organisation called Singing for Soldiers. The organisation gained a lot of momentum and media coverage across the world in all British Forces communities as our aim was to raise money for charity. I wrote a song which was recorded by a small group of ‘army wives’ and this was released on iTunes. It gave me a purpose, strengths and skills that I never knew I had before and was also a huge learning curve.
“I was later diagnosed with Generalised Anxiety Disorder”
Stacey Pyle (2018)
During this time my marriage broke down and 3 years later I returned to Derby to restart my life as a single parent. I found myself without support emotionally and financially and had no option but to claim benefits. I went through the process of divorce and whilst my post-natal depression had subsided, I developed issues around anxiety and was later diagnosed with Generalised Anxiety Disorder. I battled with my emotions daily, was the victim of domestic abuse and found it increasingly difficult to sustain employment due to issues surrounding childcare. I rented privately but moved to a new house on 3 separate occasions within 2 years as landlords requested their property back. The latter time I had no money to invest in another privately rented property and was subsequently homeless with my children. I had a new partner at this stage and was pregnant with my 3rd child. We were eventually offered social housing, but the strains of our situation took its toll on the relationship. In addition to other circumstances we were left choosing whether to buy food or gas and electricity tokens for the meter. I couldn’t afford to fully support my children and I felt like I was failing as a mother. I began to search for a way out, a way to better provide for my children and it was at this point I came across an Access course at Stafford College.
Stafford college offered an Access to medicine, and this was a perfect opportunity to get back into education and build my career. Medicine and health care have always been a passion of mine which developed further after I had volunteered as an emergency responder for the ambulance service. I was initially rejected from the Access Course because my GCSE’s weren’t good enough, but I pleaded with the course leader to give me one chance to prove I was worth investing in. I was granted a place and I passed my access course with distinctions and I am so thankful to have been given that opportunity. I felt incredibly proud of myself because my life was extremely complex at this time and I proved that I could overcome adversity and achieve something. Within my course, there was a psychology module and it ignited another passion within me. I wanted to understand more about people, the decisions they make, the way they think, the reasons behind what they do, the impact their experiences have, and I was able to analysis my own experiences and begin to understand them better.
“Dream, Believe, succeed – you are the one in the driving seat travelling into your future”
Stacey Pyle (2018)
Following my completion of the access course, I re-married, I applied to study Psychology at the University of Derby and was so surprised to be made an unconditional offer. I felt like a new chapter in my life was about to start. Was this really happening? I almost couldn’t believe it, but It was very real and since then I haven’t looked back. I have battled with anxiety constantly but the more I learnt within my degree the more I was able to help myself and it gave me the confidence to begin to apply for roles within the mental health sector. I was offered a position as a mental health support worker at a secure mental health hospital and this experience has been incredible. I have been able to work with a fantastic team of people and support individuals with complex needs. My own personal experiences have enabled me to empathise in a way that I don’t think others can, and the situations I am presented with within this role have given me a great base for further work within this sector.
I toyed for a little while with the idea of pursuing further education following my BSc, progressing into Forensic Science, but I started to notice similarities in the histories of the service uses that I work with, which gave me the idea to launch a new mental health service. My education and experiences have taught me that children and young people who experience trauma are highly likely to go on to experience difficulties in mental health. They may go on to commit crime and often get lost in a legal system. Something needs to change and there needs to be a way that children and young people can speak out or act out in a safe and secure environment without fear of judgement. This was when I had the idea to open The Foundation Centre. It follows the launch of The Foundation Academy which is a community organisation that was set up in conjunction with my husband who is an FA affiliated football coach. I contacted the Princes Trust, as I was aware that they have an enterprise program which supports individuals to set up their own businesses. They are fantastic and give their total support and are backing the centre, and me, which is fantastic.
“Once I launch the centre, I want to be able to provide work placements for students”
Stacey Pyle (2018)
The Foundation Centre will work to support children and young people who have experienced trauma. It will be a place where they can go to socialise with others in similar situations to them. A safe place that is a ‘home from home’. We will offer several therapeutic services, days out, educational courses, skill building sessions and my aim is to work in conjunction with the local council and other agencies to offer a broad range of services. Ideally, I would also like to have our own in-house multi-disciplinary team. In addition to this, I aim to have a sports facility too where young people can access fitness classes, as well as a 3G pitch to support local football clubs and help to build relationships within the community. We will have the facility for practitioners to rent out counselling suites and for other agencies to book our training room. I would also like to work closely with Derbyshire Constabulary with the aims of reducing youth crime and re-offending rates. It is very much a work in progress, but It is beginning to take shape and I am so pleased with how things are progressing now. My skills and knowledge gained from my degree with regards to psychology have allowed me to think big and I want to let others know that nothing is impossible. You may be faced with adversity, but you can overcome it. With the right support, and the drive and ambition you absolutely can do anything you set your mind to. Once I launch the centre, I want to be able to provide work placements for students at the University and employment opportunities too. If you are reading this and you feel that this is something that you would like to be involved with then please do get in touch.
I would absolutely love to hear from you. If you would like to support the centre and work in partnership with us, I am more than willing to discuss this.
Dream, Believe, succeed – you are the one in the driving seat travelling into your future.