Richard Taylor, External Affairs Intern, Money and Mental Health

Introducing: Richard Taylor

24 February 2020

I am in the middle of my second week as the new External Affairs Intern at the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, and so far, it’s been an absolute pleasure. Every member of staff has shown compassion, patience and kindness towards me, and I’m very grateful for the immediate feeling of support and encouragement.

Starting any new role can be daunting, especially when done in a virtual environment, but the team have made a concerted effort to make Zoom meetings entertaining and have created an ‘office vibe’ albeit through a computer screen.

Already, the projects I am involved with have given me a sense of the tremendous amount of work done by the charity to help those of us who are most vulnerable in society. As a member of Money and Mental Health’s national, user-led Research Community before starting this role, I had a good understanding regarding the goals of the charity and what they aim to achieve. However, peering behind the curtain, I’m already beginning to understand how vital and necessary the work is right now in light of the difficulties we are all facing during the pandemic.

My background

When I was 18, I was adamant that I wanted to be an historical archaeologist, but after my mental health took a nosedive which prevented me from attending university, I had to re-evaluate my choices. Naturally, I decided that I wanted to be a singer-songwriter in the vein of James Taylor and Paul Simon (look them up, trust me, it’ll be worth it). When this didn’t work out, again in part due to poor mental health, I took a greater step back so I could take stock of the situation I found myself in.

I’ve always been a talker, and I was made aware of a mental health organisation called Time To Change who were asking for media volunteers to speak about their experiences with mental health problems. Why not, I thought, so I ended up featuring on BBC Radio Lancashire, where I openly talked about my obsessive compulsive disorder and depression for the first time to thousands of listeners. The rest, as they say, is history, and I’ve spent the last seven years campaigning for more awareness, improved services and a greater empathy for people, like myself, who live with mental health problems.

Fortunately, I’ve had the privilege of working with some incredible people and organisations over the years, and at a national mental health conference a few years ago, I happened to be in the audience in a session presented by Helen Undy, the CEO of Money and Mental Health. That was the first time I’d heard of the charity, and I came out of that session knowing that somehow, our paths would cross in the future. Life has a funny old way of working, and here I am as a member of the team!

My aims and ambitions

The work that Money and Mental Health carries out is guided by the lived experience of roughly 5,000 members in the Research Community (as of April 2021), and this principle is the foundation of the charity. I want to use my skills, my own lived experience and passion to ensure that this work continues and reaches as wide an audience as possible.

I will have the opportunity to work on some fantastic projects and initiatives during my time with Money and Mental Health, and I only wish that an organisation like this existed when I was younger. Having people that care about the cross section of mental health problems and financial difficulties — and how these two things interact with each other — gives me hope, not just for myself, but for vulnerable members of society that through no fault of their own need extra support. It fills me with pride to be part of a team that wants to leave a lasting legacy of positive change.