Yessica's Journey Blog

Welcome to the Yessica's Journey Blog Site, a Journey through Mental Health, Wellbeing and Creativity.


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Norwich and Central Norfolk Mind Mentors – Huge thanks to Peter Gianfrancesco and Welcome to New Mentor Amanda Hedley Chief Executive Officer

© Copyright 2013 Anastacia Tohill. All rights reserved Please do not copy or download images or text.

Peter Gianfrancesco and Amanda Hedley New CEO at Norwich and Central Norfolk Mind

Peter Gianfrancesco and Amanda Hedley New CEO at Norwich and Central Norfolk Mind

I would like to say a Huge thank you to Peter Gianfrancesco for all his help and support on the ‘Yessica’s Journey’ project. Peter who is the Chief Executive at Norwich and Central Norfolk Mind, has been my mentor for several years and has been a huge asset to the project with his knowledge and experience of mental health and wellbeing. I would like to thank him for all the help he has given me over the years and for believing in me and not giving up on me despite the difficulties I have had with the project. I would like to thank Peter and Mind for helping to fund the project. We are staying in touch which is great, Peter has always shown a genuine interest in the project and I won’t let him down.

Anastacia with Peter Gianfrancesco

Anastacia with Peter Gianfrancesco

Peter is leaving Mind to work abroad in America and Australia. It is very sad to lose Peter and he will be missed by so many people including myself. I wish him well for the future and look forward to seeing him at the launch of ‘Yessica’s Journey’ in a few years time with Trisha. Peter is a brilliant communicator, great listener and an extremely caring person. He has a great sense of humor and has done so much in developing Mind with his innovative ideas for which he should be very proud.

Anastacia with Amanda Hedley New Mentor for the Project

Anastacia with Amanda Hedley New Mentor for the Project

I would like to welcome Amanda Hedley the new Chief Executive Officer at Norwich and Central Norfolk Mind to the ‘Yessica’s Journey’ project. Amanda is my new mentor and I am looking forward to working with her in the future. I would like to thank Amanda for her interest and support and I enjoyed showing both Peter and Amanda the development of the project. I would also like to congratulate Amanda on her new job at Mind and wish her well.

Amanda has a background working in the NHS for many years and her experience and knowledge of Mental Health will be a huge asset to the project.

Peter and Amanda

Peter and Amanda

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Meeting with David Neat about designs for Yessicas Head

© Copyright 2013 Anastacia Tohill. All rights reserved. Please do not copy or download text or images.

I went down to London to see David Neat who is making Yessica’s Heads to discuss my designs for the character. I spent quite a long time designing her heads and have redesigned her many times from my initial ideas. I think she has improved a lot and I am really pleased with the final designs.

David Neat in his studio in London

David Neat in his studio in London

David is the sculptor and modelmaker for Yessica’s Heads and is a professional highly experienced modelmaker. He made the set for the animation which looks amazing. He has never made a puppet head before so it was quite a challenge for him and I am so pleased he agreed to make her. He had started to make the sculpts which look brilliant and it was very exciting to see her coming to life. David is very talented and is a perfectionist which shows in all of his work, the attention to detail on the heads is amazing and I can’t thank him enough for his hard work.

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David working in his studio

Anastacia holding the sculpts of Yessica's heads which David has made, sorry not going to show you what they look like, you will have to wait and see

Anastacia holding the sculpts of Yessica’s heads which David has made, they looked like chocolate lolipops on sticks. Sorry can’t show you anything yet hence the blobs of white.

David Neat Model Maker © 2012 Astrid Baerndal Photo taken during a workshop David was giving at the National Gallery.

David Neat Model Maker © 2012 Astrid Baerndal Photo taken during a workshop David was giving at the National Gallery.


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Oz Osborne talks about the Human Library at Chalk Circle Theatre Company Event

© Copyright 2013 Anastacia Tohill, Yessica’s Journey Blog. All rights reserved. Please do not copy or download images or text.

Human Library Website
Chalk Circle Theatre Company Facebook
Oz Osborne setting up for the Human Library talk at Take Five

Oz Osborne setting up for the Human Library talk at Take Five

On the 30th October last year Oz Osborne who works for Time to Change gave a presentation about the Human Library at Take Five. Adina Levay and Suzanna Coppolina asked Oz to give a talk at their Chalk Circle event.

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Oz is very passionate about the Human Library and does many presentations and events all over the country to introduce the concept to the public. The human library is just like a book library but there is a difference, instead of the library loaning out books it loans out people. So you don’t borrow a book to read you borrow a person to read, through talking and listening to them. Just like you learn and develop knowledge through reading books, you can learn from interacting with people. Most people have some prejudices and typically stereotype people so by borrowing a book from the Human Library shelf on a choosen topic of interest, it may help you to open and change your mind, your attitude and views and help you to learn and gain new knowledge by asking people directly, listening and talking to them. By learning more about the person and their subject you can help to challenge stereotypes, stigma and discrimination and change attitudes in our culture. Book titles can be anything – Bipolar Disorder, Transgender, Learning Disability, Wheelchair user, Refugee and so on. It is a great opportunity to ask questions and learn about new subjects by asking people direct. Through conversation and interactivity learning becomes easier and interesting and is more likely to be remembered and has probably more of an effect on people. These are people who are talking about subjects, certain aspects of their lives that they have real lived experience from which is always more informative than many books.

Don’t judge a book by its cover is just the same as saying don’t judge people by first impressions when you don’t know anything about them, don’t judge people because of their colour, sexuality, mental health, appearance and so on. Unfortunately, in our society today we all do it so this is a fantastic idea and opportunity to change perceptions and re-educate people.

Oz talking about the Human Library

Oz talking about the Human Library

Oz talking about the Human Library

Oz talking about the Human Library

The event was very successful and I really enjoyed it. I had never been to a human library event before and I found it really interesting. We were split into two groups and we had a chance to talk to a human book. I have been asked to be a book before but always said no as I felt too nervous to do it. I can see why it is so successful and I am sure the books on loan enjoy it as much as the borrowers, it is a great way to meet new people, change attitudes and gain new knowledge.

Below slideshow of pictures from event.

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Frank Bruno at Norwich and Central Norfolk Mind Smile Ball Dunston Hall

© Copyright 2012 Anastacia Tohill, Yessica’s Journey Blog. All rights reserved. Please do not copy or download images or text.

Norwich and Central Norfolk Mind Website
On Saturday 22nd September Norwich and Central Norfolk held a Ball at the De Vere Dunston Hall Hotel to raise awareness about mental health difficulties and raise funds. Frank Bruno who has Bipolar came to support the event by posing for photos and giving an interview on stage with Trisha Goddard who is a patron of Mind. The evening was a great success and the charity raised a good amount of funding from the event.
Frank Bruno and all the volunteers at the Norwich and Central Norfolk Mind Smile Ball at Dunston Hall

Frank Bruno and all the volunteers at the Norwich and Central Norfolk Mind Smile Ball at Dunston Hall

I asked if we could have a photo with Frank Bruno with the volunteers. We volunteered on the night to help welcome guests as they arrived to the event and sell raffle tickets to raise money. We all had lovely blue t-shirts for the event. We also had a fantastic meal.

Anastacia and Frank Bruno at the Norwich and Central Norfolk Mind Ball

Frank Bruno and Anastacia at the Norwich and Central Norfolk Mind Smile Ball

I had several photos taken with Frank, he is a lovely warm person, really friendly and has a great sense of humor, he really made me laugh and I am pleased I had the opportunity to meet him.

The Smile Ball Marquee before the guests arrive

The Smile Ball Marquee before the guests arrive

This is a picture of the event before the guests arrived. The event was held in a marquee in the Dunston Hall grounds. It looked great. We also had a stand with Mind information.

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This is Paola the Inclusion Manager, myself and one of the volunteers at the event having a good time.

Trisha Goddard interviewing Frank Bruno at the Ball

Trisha Goddard interviewing Frank Bruno at the Ball

Trisha Goddard interviewing Frank Bruno on stage. The interview was really good and Frank talked about his mental health difficulties and answered questions from Trisha and the guests. He had everyone laughing, his humor is brilliant and to make people smile is a great gift.

Trisha Goddard interviewing Frank Bruno at the Ball

Trisha Goddard interviewing Frank Bruno at the Ball

Trisha Goddard interviewing Frank Bruno at the Ball

Trisha Goddard interviewing Frank Bruno at the Ball

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Peter Gianfrancesco, Chief Executive at Norwich and Central Norfolk Mind giving a speech at the Smile Ball

Peter Gianfrancesco who is the Chief Executive of Norwich Mind also gave a speech at the event and was pleased the event was a great success.

Guests at the Norwich and Central Norfolk Mind Ball

Guests at the Norwich and Central Norfolk Mind Ball

Guests at the Event

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We had to leave the event early but I had a great time and really enjoyed it. Later on there was music and dancing and a singer Dominic Uppiah.

Frank Bruno and Anastacia at the Norwich and Central Norfolk Mind Smile Ball

Frank Bruno and Anastacia at the Norwich and Central Norfolk Mind Smile Ball

Frank and me having a laugh. I was not even ready for this photo, the photographer just took it as we were laughing so much. My arm looks like a matchstick compared to Franks hand, he is a big friendly guy. Below some more pictures I took.

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Maggie Wheeler and Roz Brooks from the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust are the New NHS Representatives for ‘Yessica’s Journey’

Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust Website

© Copyright 2012 Anastacia Tohill, Yessica’s Journey Blog. All rights reserved. Please do not copy or download images or text. Images taken by Diane Smith who works at the NHS.

Maggie Wheeler Chair of the Trust from the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust and Anastacia – Yessica’s Journey Meeting

I was thrilled to have a meeting with Maggie Wheeler, who is the Chair of the Trust and Roz Brooks who is the Director of Nursing, Patient Safety and Quality at the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust – Hellesdon Hospital. After having to cancel many meetings I finally got to show them some of the development of the work for the ‘Yessica’s Journey’ project. I showed them my portfolio of designs including some of the sound and models from the project. I really enjoyed showing them the work and they both seemed really interested in how the project was progressing. I am also pleased to announce that Maggie and Roz are now officially the NHS Representatives for the project which is amazing.

Quote from Maggie and Roz  “we are so pleased to be associated with this fantastic project. It will really help people understand mental ill health in an accessible way. We were fascinated to learn about how animated films are made, and the time and skill it takes. We are really looking forward to seeing the final result”

I would like to thank Maggie and Roz for their time and for giving me the opportunity to show them the development of  ‘Yessica’s Journey’. Also huge thanks for being my representatives, I really appreciate it. I would also like to thank Diane Smith who took these lovely pictures of Maggie and me, I really like them and she has done a fantastic job.

Maggie Wheeler Chair of the Trust from the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust and Anastacia – Yessica’s Journey Meeting


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Helping others through Time to Change and my Blogsite

Time to Change Website

© Copyright 2012 Anastacia Tohill, Yessica’s Journey Blog. All rights reserved. Please do not copy or download images or text.

I was thrilled to be asked by Time to Change to give some advice to a student who is doing an animation on depression. I really enjoyed helping her and I hope I gave her some useful information about how to get funding for her project and general advice about her script which I was pleased to read. I also gave some advice on managing anxiety so I really hope I helped her as I am certainly no expert. It was great to be put in contact with her through Time to Change and she is such a talented person and I wish her well with her project. That is what it is all about, helping others, and passing on your knowledge, that is what I love doing and that is what is important to me. Time to Change is a great organisation and really understand how to engage with the public and people with mental health difficulties and most importantly try to change attitudes of the public, misconceptions and fight discrimination and stigma.
I have also been contacted by people through my blog site which is great. Mainly to do with advice about animation and armatures. I was also recently able to help someone from the article I posted about the New Bipolar Group which is being set up in Norwich. They are new to Norwich and wanted to know what they could get involved in so I was happy to help. The web is such a powerful tool to reach out to others to help and pass on knowledge and learn.


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Norwich and Central Norfolk Mind launch new service ‘LifeHelp’

Norwich and Central Norfolk Mind Website

© Copyright 2012 Anastacia Tohill, Yessica’s Journey Blog. All rights reserved. Please do not copy or download images or text. © Norwich and Central Norfolk Mind – screenshots and scans of articles from Eastern Evening News and Easter Daily Press. All rights reserved. Please do not copy or download images or text.

Quote from Peter Gianfrancesco in the EDP/EEN

I was invited to the Norwich Mind launch of their new service called ‘LifeHelp’ which is to help people including people with mental health difficulties and includes a range of services for people with personal budgets. The event was held in Norwich at the Open Banking Hall. It was also to celebrate the MFA – Mind First Aiders and Associates.

Article in Newspaper with MFA and Trisha Goddard

It was a very successful event and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The new service is very impressive and the presentations were professional and interesting. I really like the design and logo of the presentation folder and we also got an MFA hat to wear, which is something we can wear in our own communities to let people know we are a Mind First Aider and can help others. I knew quite a few people there so it was great to see them and have a good chat. We also got our picture taken for the EDP and EEN which was great.

Article in Newspaper of MFA at event – Oz, Colin and me in the background, Trisha Goddard at the front

Peter Gianfrancesco who is the CEO at Mind presented the service and his wife Trisha Goddard who is a patron at mind also gave a presentation. I found her speech really moving. They also had people with lived experience talking about how being an MFA has benefited them and helped others.

Article in Newspaper to launch Life Help Service

I was really impressed with the whole event and look forward to seeing how it develops. I am an MFA and trained at Mind for adults and I have also done voluntary work with Mind Inclusion for several years. I am also a MFA for young adults and did a separate course with another organisation. I would highly recommend the course at Mind, you learn so much and it really can help not only yourself but how you can help others.

If you are interested in becoming a Mind First Aider and Associate please visit their website at the top of this article. Below is a screenshot from their Associate magazine and includes very informative information.

The associates magazine


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Showreel on ‘Shooting People’ Professional Filmmakers Website

Shooting People – Link to ‘Yessica’s Journey’ Showreel

© Copyright 2012 Anastacia Tohill, Yessica’s Journey Blog. All rights reserved. Please do not copy or download images or text.

Article advertised in Shooting People Bulletin

Shooting People is a professional network for filmmakers and I have been a member for many years. I recently posted my showreel on the site and they send out regular bulletins so it is a great way to promote the project.

Showreel on website, image of Yessica

I have also used this website to advertise for the voiceover artists in the past for the role of Yessica and the Magician. I got over 100 applicants so it is quite a good place to advertise. I also advertised locally in Norwich. We interviewed people at Mind and got people to send in their voiceover samples. I really enjoyed it and met loads of interesting very talented people. Articles about this in previous blogs.

We got the perfect people for the voiceover roles. Matt Oliver for the ‘Magician’ and Orna Salinger for ‘Yessica’. Extremely talented artists.

Image of showreel from Yessica’s Journey ideas

Below is slideshow of some screenshots from showreel.

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Meeting with Charlie Gauvain

Charlie and Anastacia

© Copyright 2012 Anastacia Tohill, Yessica’s Journey Blog. All rights reserved. Please do not copy or download images or text.

Eye Film and Television Website

Charlie Gauvain is the new ‘Production Manager’ for the project and works as an Executive Producer at Eye Film and TV (see earlier blog for more information about charlie.  We met today for a meeting to discuss the new ‘Yessica’s Journey’ Schedule plan, Financial Plan and Contract. The meeting went well and Charlie and I will be meeting on a regular basis once a month.

Charlie’s main role is to support, advise and assist me with the project. This will include financial, planning a schedule, marketing, DVD authoring, advise on production and monitoring the progression of the project and ensure that the film is produced on time and within budget.

Charlie’s knowledge and experience of working in Film and TV for many years will be very beneficial to myself and the project and I look forward to working with him.


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Yessica’s Journey Exhibited at the Upstairs Gallery in Beccles presenting StigmARTa Exhibition of work – May 16th – 31st

Upstairs Gallery in Beccles Website

StigmARTa Exhibition – ‘A thought provoking look at arts and service users, arts and their uses in therapy and inclusion, and people’s opinions of the words Mental Health and the stigmas attached.’ ‘Arts are used in the mental health service to bring confidence and voluntary communication back into the public life and work situations for mental health users.’ {quote taken from Michelle Payne Upstairs Gallery)

The Upstairs Gallery in Beccles – StigmARTa Exhibition

© Copyright 2012 Anastacia Tohill. All rights reserved. Please do not copy or download images or text.

I was thriled to be given the opportunity of exhibiting some of my artwork at the Gallery. I displayed two Illustrations from the Yessica’s Journey project – Dawn Light and the Yessica Character. The Gallery is fantastic, and it was lovely to meet the staff including Michelle who is very passionate about Art, Mental Health and Wellbeing.

Development of Yessica Character for ‘Yessica’s Journey’ – Mixed Media

© Copyright 2012 Anastacia Tohill. All rights reserved. Please do not copy or download images or text.

The exhibition is so important in educating the public about Mental Health and the Discrimination and Stigma associated with it. Using Art and Creativity for wellbeing and confidence is something I feel very passionately about.

‘Dawn Light’. Mixed Media, Traditional with Digital

© Copyright 2012 Anastacia Tohill. All rights reserved. Please do not copy or download images or text.

The work displayed is fantastic and I recommend a visit to the Gallery to see the Exhibition. It is very inspiring to see so many talented artists who are helping to educate through creativity and challenge stigma.
The Gallery also exhibits many artists work which can be purchased. Thank you to Michelle Payne for giving me this opportunity and for organising an exhibition on Mental Health which I think is fantastic.


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Yessica’s Journey BDRN Meeting at Cardiff University

 BDRN Bipolar Disorder Research Network – Worlds Biggest Research into Bipolar

Click here for more details about the meeting

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Meeting at Cardiff University with Ian Jones, Jamie Lewis, Nick Craddock and the Research Team. Siobhan Tohill and Anastcia Tohill attended meeting, Oz Osborne attended by conference call. This was an excellent meeting and has helped to establish a good working collaborative relationship between BDRN Research Team and Yessica’s Journey Project Animation Team.

© Copyright 2011 Anastacia Tohill. All rights reserved. Please do not copy or download images/text.

Anastacia Tohill and Siobhan Tohill with the BDRN Research Team