Mellissa Berry

For me, the importance the organisation places on developing prevention, intervention and more importantly a community based programme, and having local practitioners, local leaders supporting those people who perhaps don't feel they have a place in society and community, to find their place is something i'm passionate about.

In all aspects of my life I always believe that people no matter of their start in life, the journey they have been on, or where they are in the present that they have the ability to be the best they can be - what ever that means for them individually. I've always been drawn to working with individuals, groups, organisations who choose to work in some of the more challenging areas and communities where perhaps from the outside people only choose to see and listen to the negative perceptions.

Where those choose to see negatives I see great opportunities and more importantly I see the biggest strength and asset any community and place has... people.

People who with a little bit of help, support and guidance can achieve great things. People who can change their lives around because someone listened to them, because someone supported them and because someone gave them a chance. And people, who want to help make their own community the best it can be. The Panacea Project works with many groups who for what ever reason have not had a positive journey in life. And with the 'labels' others give them and they give themselves, they see no way of changing the vicious circle they are in.

They also at times, find a society and community where they don't feel they belong and have a place because they are defined by their journeys. Yet, by engaging, educating and empowering these people through changing and challenging their own mental well being, and giving them tools to support their own mental well being, these people can find their own confidence to make better choices for themselves. This is why for me, not only helping people overcome their adversities, but also allowing the chance and opportunity to develop life skills and employability skills through the Panacea Project is so important. We want to create a Panacea 'community' where local people lead projects themselves, where people who have been on a programme can gain the skills to become leaders, and where there is a part of the community where people with always feel accepted.

Mellissa Berry