Public Choice Awards 2018/19
Outstanding Care and Compassion Award: CFYP

Dr David Williams

Has been shortlisted for this award

Job title
Clinical Psychologist 
Central IDT Youth Pathway 

The nomination said...

I first met David around four years ago through attendance at the Trust’s Recovery College. So much has changed since that time, I can hardly believe who I was back then. In brief, I was terrified, lonely, without hope or self-worth. I had been hearing voices for around eight years but had only started to talk about them from three years before, just after my first inpatient stay.

When I met David I was fresh from a second period in hospital and truly believed I was unable to be helped. Nothing could persuade me that I had a future or anything of value to give to either myself or others. The voices were omnipotent and omniscient and I could not imagine a life in which, to be blunt, I did not wish to be dead.

I have been blessed with a wonderful support network and have been fortunate to have experienced some incredible, caring and compassionate people who have given me more than I could ever have hoped for and changed my opinion of myself from someone who had no worth to a person who has value and a place in the world. I believe, however, that David has made the biggest difference to me as a person and to my ability to view my voices in a different light.

Without his unending empathy and kindness I wouldn’t want to think where I would be right now. I certainly wouldn’t be able to list the number of achievements and moments of pride that I can today. From beginning as a hollow, almost invisible person who shrank back from any attention, was anxious about everybody and quite literally was terrified of myself, David has helped me to grow in confidence, but also to blossom into someone I can say I am proud to be.

I remember vividly the first time I met David as I don’t actually think I saw his face – I was too scared to make eye contact with anyone for fear of tainting them with the darkness I was convinced I contained. Instead I stared at the table and felt my whole body shake with the effort of staying in the room. We, my mum and I, were attending the Living Well with Hearing Voices Recovery College course and I know I had no expectation that it would help in anyway, after all, I was irreparably damaged, broken beyond all hope. Somehow I felt through my despair and distress, something different that first day, a warmth and something suspiciously like being held in a safe and supportive space.

I had not felt so welcome to be me, voices and all, since I was 13, but David’s generous sharing of wisdom and knowledge along with his enormous belief in every single person in that room, found me and stayed with me allowing me to return for the next weeks’ sessions. Slowly, David’s enthusiasm for recovery began to trickle into me in a way I can only describe as light slowly filtering into a room as the sun rises. He didn’t shove recovery down my throat, but was empathetic, acknowledging my terror and sickness and working with it to slowly begin to change it into curiosity and a desire (if not a hope) for change.

It wasn’t the first time we met that my life changed, nor the second or third or fourth. In fact, I cannot pin point the moment as I don’t think it exists. I know, however, that the person who facilitated the change was David, not by what he did necessarily, but by his belief that I had it in me to change my situation.

Of course it hasn’t been perfect. Even after I began to gain the hope and sense of purpose to volunteer in the Recovery College myself and try to pass something on to others, there have been some dramatic wobbles. David has maintained throughout that I am capable and that I can be empowered over and over again as many times as it takes. I remember standing in a car park thinking that I had done something terrible and David coming to stand beside me, not facing me or at angle but shoulder to shoulder like equals and passing on, in the same way he has always done, the hope that the fear and confusion cannot last forever.

As always he was right – and I’m not saying that to suggest that he pretends to have any authority or better knowledge of me than myself, because it’s the opposite, he reminds me of the knowledge I have built up of the years of hard work that I cannot give up on and knows me as a person, an individual who is much more than anything he could tell me I am. David inspires me to follow my values despite the voices, to be the person I want to be not for anyone but myself.

I wouldn’t be here writing this if David hadn’t hoped for me over and over and over again. I simply wouldn’t. I also wouldn’t have volunteered for the Recovery College, spoken at conferences, congresses, told my story (in my own words), tried an apprenticeship, given up an apprenticeship because it wasn’t right for me, become compassionate to my voices, found a voice of my own or so many other things that I have had the opportunity to do because of David’s support and belief in me.

I am now at university and hope one day to pass on the compassion he has shown to me and so many others. When things get tough as they do because I am human (something else David taught me to recognise) I look at the card he wrote me wishing me luck and think, of all the people in the world I am finally glad to be me, because I get to start again where others don’t, all because someone – David – had hope and cared enough to see the ‘superstar’ I could be given half the chance.

Thank you David. If anything is proof that your hard work to change people’s ideas about voice hearing and to give me hope has worked. I hope it’s this. I am now strong enough to say that my voices aren’t the problem, just like I’m not the problem. The only problem, is not enough people believe in the human capacity to start afresh, to grow in any direction they wish until they see the light.

I am going to make you proud and share with others the care, compassion and empathy you shared with me.

Nominated by: A service user