This page is designed to give you an insight into the role of our governors. It will focus on many aspects of their role and experiences they have had including how they interact with members and feedback member's views, how they interact with their fellow governors, how their experience of the role can vary greatly from one governor to another and how their role can be daunting at times but also extremely rewarding and interesting. It also gives governors a chance to update you on visits and events they have attended or taken part in and allows them to give their feedback to you.

Graham Robinson, Durham governor attended his first Quality Improvement event in 2017 his reflection on the event is below.

I attended a two-day workshop Improvement Event at Morton Park Business Centre on 23 – 24 November regarding the Durham and Darlington Locality. The workshop was geared towards developing a group/framework that ensures a service user and carer voice for every important decision within the Durham and Darlington locality.

This in turn enables the governance and planning arrangements to move through necessary levels of involvement and co-production. The event was excellently facilitated by Lorraine Ferrier and Fran Bergin who informed everyone from the outset that it would be a full hands-on couple of days – and they remained true to their word.

As the only Governor in attendance alongside service users, carers and NHS professionals, I had initial fears that I might have been out of my depth and my comfort zone and would offer little in terms of involvement. However, such trepidation was quickly erased as it turned out to be two worthwhile, enjoyable, beneficial and extremely professionally handled days, feelings that were emphasised by everyone at the end of the event.

To any governors or service users/carers offered a similar opportunity to attend such courses, I would recommend them.

A lot of professional expertise was on hand across the spectrum over the two days which definitely highlighted that glasses were half full in the quest to deliver high standard, first class services and provide assurance on the quality of these services.”

Martin Combs, York governor visited our Forensic Service Unit

Martin wanted an understanding of Forensic Services, a chance to see the facilities first hand and to understand the often unseen work that takes place their supporting service users.  His views on his visit are below

Following my visit and the amount of information provided by Simon (Lancashire) please. His vision for how mental health services needs to evolve, based on strong values and genuine respect for patients and his staff etc. for me were a superb confirmation of why I became a TEWV governor. His staff (ie. the ones I met) were amazing, proactive, clear sighted, caring and competent.  It was also good to meet some of the patients.

Cliff Allison, Durham governor, attended the Creative Minds Recovery and Beyond Conference 2014

Cliff attended the conference on 17 October 2014 in Northallerton. He enjoyed the day very much and had the following to say about the event:

"I attended this conference with an open mind, as I had been brought up and trained in the medical model and been taught that diagnosis was imperative in order to 'treat the condition'. I left the conference feeling this model was, at the least questionable.

The first person to raise doubts in my mind was Fiona MacCallum, who opened the day with a moving account of her own experiences and her route to recovery. 

She was followed by the Chair of the Paranoia Network, Peter Bullimore. Peter gave a brief history of his journey through the 'system' and how after more than a decade on heavy medication he found a way out and started to recover. He said that he still hears voices, sometimes up to 40 at a time, but now works with them and has built up a reputation nationally and internationally for his expertise. He went into great detail about his trauma theory, and gave us case histories to support his approach.

Steven Hook gave a short and amusing account of his history and current situation. His sometimes outspoken comments gave most of us the opportunity to have a good laugh and went well towards helping us to relax.

Dr. Alison Brabban spoke about Diagnosis and Formulation, which I found fascinating and informative. She referred to the American system which requires a diagnosis primarily to satisfy the payment of insurance in order to make patients eligible for treatment in most of their hospitals, and gave some possible but improbable examples of diagnostic definitions. I would have liked her to have had more time on the programme as I learned so much. The bright and bubbly presentation by Rachel Waddingham called Working Creatively with Voices and Visions was a chance to do some interactive work. She gave an account of the numerous diagnoses she had been given, and how unhelpful these had been. “Who would want to employ me or anyone else labelled Paranoid Schizophrenic as a child minder” she asked! Again, she focused on the importance of working with the voices rather than trying to get rid of them.

The day was finished with a dual presentation for Victoria Lumley and Helen Mallaby, a psychologist and former service user which I found refreshing in its approach. They had set up a peer support group, and their talk was about Working with My Voices. Helen now has a partner, two children and a dog, and she has done a deal with her voices that gives a set time each day when she retreats into a quiet place and enters into a dialogue with her voices.

As someone who was trained to believe that paranoiacs were dangerous and that the condition was virtually incurable I learned so much from the day. I suppose that the main lesson was that I have so much more to learn, and I would congratulate the organisers on giving me much more insight than I had and giving me an enjoyable experience."


Dr Kate Bidwell - her experience of being an appointed governor of the trust 

1. How do you see the role of an appointed governor?

The role of appointed governor for me is an interesting one as it challenges me to bring the views and opinions of the 3 clinical commissioning groups that I represent to the Council meeting. As the Clinical Commissioning Groups are all made up of member practices this means that I represent the GPs and their practices across County Durham and Darlington and bring with me the experience of using the services of the trust.

2. How do governors contribute individually but also collectively as a Council

Each governor has the opportunity to offer their view (or the view of the organisation that they represent) but we have the benefit of a wide range of Council members that means we may hold many differing views. This enables individual governors and the trust to hear a wide debate before forming an opinion.

3. What do you think is the biggest challenge faced by appointed governors?

The biggest challenge for the appointed governor is to ensure that you are offering the views and opinions of your organisations and not just your own view or opinion.

4. What benefit do you/your organisation get from having an appointed governor on the Council?

Being a member of the council allows me to have a greater understanding of the working of the trust and the way that the trust works with its Council of Members.

5. How can members help you in your role?

I know this is quite a difficult one but could bring in other governors as commissioning issues have certainly been raised in the past
I value the views of the members in debates and find the quality of the discussion most helpful. It is most useful to be able to link the commissioning of services with the care that is provided.

6. What do you feel governors do that impacts on the lives of service users and carers and more importantly how this relates to your role?

The governors challenge the trust to provide the best quality of care that they can within their resources. The governors (including myself) are always on the lookout for patient and carer stories that either high-light the good or the less effective care from the trust that informs our discussions at Council. It is an opportunity to either allow the trust the opportunity to learn and improve or to acknowledge good practice.

7. Could you describe a typical council meeting and the importance of the scrutiny/strategic role of a governor (critical friend)

Typical council meetings are initially quite daunting as there are a lot of governors around the table and there is much to read before the meeting to ensure that questions can be appropriate. The Council members will challenge or probe where there are concerns such as slow progress to improve. As governors we must be sure that we fully understand the information that is provided to us and that we are being given enough information to assure ourselves that the trust is being run in an effective and efficient manner with quality of care being of prime importance At a recent Council meeting the members were not convinced initially that we had sufficient information to make the decision that was being asked of us. After several questions from the council the members felt in a position to make a decision. The Council are able to challenge and probe until they are satisfied with the answers from the Trust Board.


Middlesbrough Governor attends mental health research and development conference and open day at the Westwood Centre

Governor, Ann Tucker attended both events on Friday 14 March 2014. Read more...


Governor, Judith Webster, attends open day at Springwood Unit in Malton

Judith attended the open day for the new Springwood Unit in Malton in December 2013. Following her visit, Judith said "Having frequently visited the old unit, all I can say is wow. The difference is like night and day. As a representative of TEWV I can only say thank you for the investment you have made in this area,we are no longer an outpost but a flagship."


Middlesbrough Governor takes part in TEWV Rapid Process Improvement Workshop (RPIW)

Catherine Haigh, public governor for Middlesbrough, took part in a RPIW in December 2013. Learn more about the workshop and what Catherine enjoyed most about taking part.


Staff Governor for Teesside, Simon Hughes, talks about his experience of being a Governor

Simon gives us an insight into what it's like being a staff governor. 


Scarborough and Ryedale governor, Andrea Darrington, attended the trust's annual learning disability conference on 8 October 2013.

Read Andrea's comments about the event.


Redcar and Cleveland Governor, Vanessa Wildon, helps to sign up new members at fresher fair

Vanessa attended a fresher fair held at Redcar and Cleveland College in September 2013. Read how she enjoyed her first public event as a governor.


Durham Governors sign up members at New College Durham

Governors, Betty Gibson and Andrew Everett, attended a fresher fair held by the college. Read Andrew's comments.