Unfortunately our planned speaker, Sian Hogarth from Time Trippers, was unable to make our October meeting. But as the old adage goes, ‘every cloud has a silver lining’. And this was certainly true when we welcomed our very special Cambridge WI sister Joanne Croxford to talk to us about her personal journey from addiction to recovery, and about setting up Daisy Change, the first WI to meet on the grounds of a Mental Health Trust.
Featured in many magazines and interviews, Joanne, founding President of Cambridge Blue Belles WI and creator of Daisy Change WI, has become quite the star both locally and nationally! But life wasn’t always so glamorous.
Born in Canada, Joanne’s family moved home a great many times and she struggled with always being the ‘new girl’, trying to fit in and gain acceptance. With no constant in her life she turned to food, and later to drugs, to ease her suffering, partying hard in London and Berlin. At her lowest point Joanne realized she would die if she didn’t change her life. With the encouragement of a former colleague (a reformed addict) and the experience of a self-help group she left the London drug scene and came to Cambridge. Not knowing anyone she went to the first meeting of the Cambridge Blue Belles and walked out as President!
Joanne, who works at Fulbourn Hospital as assistant to the chief executive, later had the vision to set up Daisy Change WI after hearing an inspirational talk by former Federation Chair Ruth Bond, OBE, about the WI group she formed in Bronzefield Prison as a result of the WI’s Care not Custody campaign. Daisy Change aims to challenge the stigma that surrounds mental health and brings together service users, their carers and staff at Fulbourn Hospital. A safe haven, this is a place where women step through the door as members, not as patients of a psychiatric hospital, and it is hoped that this experience will help them with their transition back into the community when they leave the service.
Visitors are welcomed at Daisy Change, and you can find out more about their meetings online at http://www.cpft.nhs.uk/about-us/daisychange-wi.htm.
Joanne is a true inspiration.