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A mental health nurse has started a fundraising campaign so patients in children and young people’s services have access to books and activities.

Sinead McGowan, a psychiatric liaison nurse at Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW), is raising money to buy books for young people in inpatient wards within the Trust.

Brendan’s Boot Camp, named after Sinead’s three-year-old nephew who loves being read bedtime stories, is part of her role as an independent books consultant for Usborne. Usborne is the UK’s leading specialist children’s book publisher, creating engaging, innovative and accessible books for children of all ages.

An Usborne consultant can take books to events such as parents’ evenings or church hall gatherings. During the pandemic, Sinead has hosted online reading parties and sponsored reading challenges.

“I think children in mental health services can sometimes get forgotten about,” Sinead explained.

“They deserve our support and care and I wanted to be able to offer them something that would be both fun and educational.”

With a fundraising target of £1,000, Sinead plans to go onto the wards to allow staff and service users to choose the books they want once the money has been raised.

She added: “Usborne has recently released books covering difficult topics and social issues which I think are really important.

“A lot of the young people we work with have had difficult upbringings; they may have come from broken homes or have experienced some form of trauma. They often haven’t been attending school which affects their future.”

Working in psychiatric liaison means Sinead sees first-hand how events in people’s childhoods can impact their behaviour as adults. She hopes that by being able to provide young people with the right resources from an early age, they will get an idea of the importance of learning and what they want to do later in life.

“I want to let young people within our services know that learning can be fun and that there are so many benefits to reading. Reading helps with creativity and problem solving and also serves as a self-soothing technique for those who find it difficult to regulate their emotions.

“Giving young people access to as many resources as possible can only be a positive thing.”

Sinead also hopes that the books and activities will give staff more opportunities to socially interact with service users.

You can find more information on Sinead’s website here and donate via the JustGiving page here.

CNTW is a leading provider of mental health and disability services in the North East and North Cumbria.

Kate Buckle
Article by Kate Buckle
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