Changing the world – one tweet at a time by @LovelyClaireyA @NTWNHS

P1020621I’m I am going to take you on a journey of how Twitter changed my life – maybe started a bit dramatic but it’s still good!

I was always one of those folks who didn’t have Facebook or a Twitter account and thought, where do people find the time in life to be constantly on these. But decided to give it a try after people told me it was useful for networking and @LovelyClaireyA sprang to life! That was October 2013.

I remember looking at who to follow and slowly (very slowly) seeing my followers grow. I found it so useful in my area of interest of mental health and policing to find out what others are doing, good and not so good practice, and found out about an events being held. I was a little nervous at first just looking with little interaction and then my confidence grew and I’ll admit became quite addicted!

Although this was all prior to my current role as Clinical Police Liaison Lead. I was still working on a PICU as a Ward Manager. It was useful to link with others around that that role and it has been fabulous for promoting my current role.

That was two and a half years ago and I still remember the excitement of getting followed by and then meeting Twitter folks some with enormous followings. With @MentalHealthCop (Insp Michael Brown) being one of the biggest names in my area of interest, recently OBE! Even stranger feeling when I first met him!

It’s really strange having many conversations over months and years and never meeting the people behind the account. That when you do it’s a strange feeling – putting a physical presence and often face to the Twitter account.

I bet you are thinking  why is she rambling on about social media –  let’s get to the dramatic part  … Well now I see the true power of Twitter and other social media accounts  like periscope, blab (I’m still just experimenting) for the professional networking opportunities and impact you can make!

I have made so many links all over the UK, Ireland and around the World on Twitter, sharing and learning with like minded folks. It’s how I became a National Lead for the Positive Practice in Mental Health, and have been given the opportunity to meet with MPs, host a national event with NHS England Kate Davies and soon present a national award and meet with the solicitor general to discuss Mental Health, Criminal Justice System and Crown Prosecution (CPS) role. I still pinch myself frequently!! I have met and spoken with some fabulous inspiring and challenging people on Twitter who have helped me learn and develop! Many who I would never have met or spoken to if it wasn’t for this platform.

I was recently at the first College of Policing Mental Health event, presenting about my role as Clinical Police liaison Lead and partnership work in North East with my Northumbria police colleague Insp Steve Baker – again something that would never have happened without the networking via Twitter (Thank you Mr @MentalHealthCop)! The event brought together many folks who only knew each other by Twitter names and hence I spent a day with people calling me LovelyClaireyA!  But it was so fabulous to meet these wonderful, inspirational folks, some hidden behind masks on anonymous accounts. Plus be able to talk about my role and the impact of it in more than 140 characters! (Twitter reference…)

I spoke of how I never thought from joining Twitter and tweeting people, that I would be there presenting to 170 people including many of those folks.

Chief Constable of Leicestershire Police Simon Cole @CCLeicsPolice (ahem… another Twitter Legend!) raised a valid point on the topic of mental health and policing “Would we have ever have got this far without Twitter”. My view? No! It’s been such a driving force and brought together many like minded and opposing views on many areas in this topic but it has driven the debate and discussions into action!

So it’s changed my life by opening up so many opportunities I would never have had, a chance to reach people around the UK and world on the topic I feel passionate about, and to influence and drive the agenda in mental health and policing. As well as making a few friends along the way…

So my advice to you all is get yourself a Twitter account, start small and do as I did observe and then engage and eventually grow your network. It doesn’t have to be all about work, mine is a personal account with mixture of leadership, mental health, policing and adventures with my family!

Key points to remember – it’s public, be careful what you say, how you say it and don’t say or post anything you would not stand by as a professional in the public eyes!

It’s a place for debate, and people will not always agree but it’s an area where you can build and grow and change the world – maybe a tweet at a time!

 Claire Andre, Clinical Police Liaison Lead

Northumberland, Tyne and Wear Foundation NHS Trust

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