Meet The Team
Meet the people behind BIG.
Our Board Members
Hi, I’m Keeley Bell and I’m delighted that you are taking the time to read about BIG and our Board members.
I was recommended by my then psychologist to go along to BIG as I was struggling with anxiety and depression. When I eventually came along to BIG I found a friendly and supportive environment where people openly talked with each other about their own experiences. I joined as a volunteer not long after as I had come to understand just how vital BIG is for people in the local community and how important it was for myself. I was enthusiastic to join the team of volunteers to help keep BIG going, so people who are looking to connect with others, and improve their mental health and quality of life, still have a place to turn.
I ended up being appointed as BIG’s first paid employee as the Chief Officer of the charity in 2018. I coordinate the operational management of the charity, provide leadership and work to develop and implement BIG’s strategic and business plans, whilst focusing on building up partnerships in the community, and being an effective advocate for the organisation.
When I’m not doing that I enjoy reading and playing with my cat.
Peer Group Coordinator
I joined BIG in April 2022 as the Peer Group Coordinator; my role involves overseeing our lovely Volunteers and our Groups.
I am very passionate about equality and valuing people.
I spent a lot of my adult life under mental health services, and then substance misuse
services until I successfully underwent treatment for alcohol addiction.
Since then, I have maintained my recovery, volunteered and worked in substance misuse services, community mental health teams, and criminal justice settings whilst competing a degree in health and social care.
When I am not at work, I love to spend time with my family and my little dog.
Daytime Service Lead for the Bury Peer-Led Crisis Service
Several people in my extended family and personal life have had ongoing difficulties with their mental health from time to time. I trained as a psychotherapist, and I’ve mainly worked in mental health crisis services in Manchester over the last 20 years.
Human beings are creatures who live in groups and influence one another. I believe in harnessing the positive power of that natural situation for the benefit of everyone. I also believe that each person is the expert on themselves, and it is common sense to listen to that expertise as the starting point in helping to address any difficulties being experienced.
I am enthusiastic and energised about working for BIG in Mental Health and about helping to develop the new crisis service here in Bury. We are trying to provide a service which genuinely listens to people, learns from others, and will be one of the very best in the UK.
Crisis Supporter for the Bury Peer-Led Crisis Service
I joined BIG in July 2022, fresh out of university. I am a massive nerd, especially when it comes to video games and movies, one of my favourite past times is to take a trip to the cinema. I also enjoy going on adventures from camping to gorge walking, I love making new adventurous memories.
I struggle with my own mental health and have suffered from social anxiety for years and still to this day get times where my anxiety becomes extremely challenging, and this is something that I will continue to monitor and work on. However, I accept this and allow it to be a part of me.
At my core, I believe that any form of therapy should be collaborative, open and honest. During my studies, I noticed how I work naturally in a person-centred way, and tended to shy away from CBT. During my teenage years I always struggled with my own mental health, and often felt very isolated and as if no one was available to help, BIG has given me that opportunity to provide somewhere for people to come and talk about their challenges, this is something I wish was available to me when I was a teenager.
Crisis Supporter for the Bury Peer-Led Crisis Service
I became a service user many years ago suffering from severe anxiety and depression i was under mental health services for many years
I retrained and became a teaching assistant which i did for 9 years but sadly the anxiety returned and i had to give up my job
I became a student again and studied counselling skills mainly to help my own wellbeing
I returned to Big and became a volunteer which gave me a sense of purpose and helped my confidence to grow
and in May 2022 i became a paid member of staff i facilitate Monday nights stronger together group and work face to face on a Thursday at the crisis centre
I very much enjoy my role.
We have many volunteers who carry out various roles at our groups, our events in the community and also helping in our office. We are very fortunate to have a team of caring, dedicated people who have a wide range of skills and experience. Our volunteers are passionate about what they do and work diligently to ensure we continue to provide the best possible service for people in our local community.
I was looking for community based Mental Health support groups. During lockdown BIG was a lifeline to me and offered a connection to others on a level which I had not experienced before when accessing traditional Mental Health services. When face to face meetings were allowed to resume I started to attend all the sessions I could. I learnt more about others conditions as well as my own. The support, understanding and education was a breath of fresh air. I found friendship with some of the other service users and once I was ready, I began to volunteer my time as I wanted to give something back.
I am now the Volunteer Co-ordinator for BIG which I find very rewarding as it’s given me a new sense of purpose and I truly enjoy supporting our Volunteers to continue to help our service users across the borough of Bury.
I still attend a lot of the groups whether that’s as a member of BIG or as a service user to continue learning, talking and interacting with all who access the service.
In my spare time I enjoy playing video games, long walks with the dog, watching football, films and the odd coffee.
I have suffered with anxiety since I was a child. I never fully understood it, hid it well and it controlled my life.
After a house move in 2009 my anxiety worsened and I became depressed. I first attended BIG in 2011 and became a volunteer and then a committee member the following year.
The volunteers and service users at BIG helped me to understand how my thoughts and my mental health were linked and how it affected my body and through listening to others talk about their experiences of their own mental health and how they lived with it, I found I had a better understanding of how to live with mine.
Volunteering at BIG has helped immensely in my mental health recovery as it gave me a huge boost in confidence and self esteem. I have made friends and done things I never thought I could like attending the royal garden party at Buckingham Palace, taking a flight in a hot air balloon and learning to play guitar.
Good mental health is an important part of
everyones lives and BIG is about bringing people together to help each other achieve that and I am honoured and proud to be part of the BIG volunteer team.
I started volunteering at big in April 2019 , I’d been a service user previously for a few years mainly attending the Monday and Tuesday groups , I’d been suffering from anxiety and depression for a while and attending the BIG groups was instrumental in my recovery . I decided to become a volunteer to ‘give something back ‘ to the charity and also to hopefully help and give hope to service user’s who were experiencing similar issues to myself , I get a lot of satisfaction from volunteering at BIG as I feel that helping others helps me in my recovery .
Since volunteering I’ve changed careers and studied and now work in the outdoor adventure industry as a mental fitness coach , expedition mental health first aider and support team leader around the world , so from being in a dark place and then volunteering I feel BIG has been the catalyst in my recovery and career now helping others with their mental wellbeing.
I’ve worked as a Teaching assistant for 17 years in a primary school. I have two grown up children of my own. My passion is to help people through difficult periods of their lives. I recently lost my husband and I want to support others on this grief journey. After I lost my husband I feel it is the time to offer my services through volunteering. Mental health is just as important as physical health and deserves the same quality of support.
Joining BIG as a volunteer helped me to get back my confidence. I was at a low point in my life and feeling isolated after I was made redundant. Connecting with others not only made me feel accepted and valued, but sharing my skills and experience as an arts practitioner helped me feel less alone. Now I feel that I am part of an even greater and very creative wider community which continues to both inspire and motivate me.
I was studying a psychology degree at university and was looking for a volunteer position. I looked online and BIG stood out due to the values and ethos it promotes. Volunteering has enhanced me as a person. Highlights of volunteering with BIG include: being involved in people’s recovery; being a listening ear at their time of need; the great people I have met and the laughs along the way (which have been many). There are people within society who have a distorted view of mental health; it is important to me to break the stigma that individuals face within society. By volunteering with BIG I can challenge attitudes, and in turn, change lives. I have learnt by volunteering that without BIG, service users would be very lonely and isolated. Although it is a small amount of time out of my life, volunteering makes a huge difference to other lives. Volunteering at BIG will enhance your knowledge, views and future opportunities. You will be known and seen as a valuable member of the team. BIG is an amazing charity that has changed service users’ lives as well as enriching mine.
I was recommended to attend BIG by my psychiatrist Dr Sadiq and eventually after attending for some time I decided to try volunteering. Through volunteering I have gained listening skills, patience and learning not to judge people. Highlights of volunteering with BIG include watching people come out of themselves and seeing that they feel they are being heard. Volunteering helps me feel useful and needed. BIG is a really good organisation with kind and generous hearted people.