Yessica's Journey Blog

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

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Suzie Hanna Joins the Yessicas Journey Project as Production Advisor

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

Suzie Hanna Production Advisor and Anastacia

Suzie Hanna Production Advisor and Anastacia

I am pleased to announce that Suzie Hanna is helping me on the Yessica’s Journey project as a Production Advisor. She is Professor in Animation Education, Senior Lecturer in Animation and Course Leader in MA Animation & Sound Design at the Norwich University of the Arts.

I have known Suzie for many years, since I was in my twenties. We worked together at the Norwich University of Arts, when I was a Digital Media Technician and Suzie was Course Leader on the BA Hons Animation Degree course. Later in 2006 she became my tutor when I decided to do a degree in Animation. She is an excellent teacher and I have learnt so much from her, so really pleased she is involved.

Her skills and knowledge in animation has been a huge help to me and she is kindly helping out on a voluntary basis. She has already been working with me on the script to help improve it especially in getting it to work better for the wider audience. We are also trying to cut it down as the animation is far too long. I have tended to try and put too much content into the script so it is time to let some of it go which is really hard but I know it will improve it.

Most of the time I have been unwell whilst working on it but now I am feeling much better I can finally let go. It will make the message of the film much stronger and also help people to understand and follow a storyline which will keep people interested in watching it.

Sometimes I just could not think straight and I would be constantly coming up with new ideas and changing my mind. I have tended to have so many ideas in my head which is great but you have to be able to focus which has been hard at times. When you find it hard to concentrate and lack motivation everything becomes a huge mountain to climb.

My perfectionism has sometimes contributed to huge delays in the project but at the same time it has helped drive a high standard in the overall quality of the animation. Life is not perfect and neither are we, to be content and just learn to simply ‘be’ is more important. To strive for perfection is striving for something which is impossible to reach. It can have its advantages as well as disadvantages much like Bipolar but if you can find a healthy balance then this can be key to improving your wellbeing . If we are never satisfied and we feel our best is never good enough it will only lead to worry and self doubt. I found this interesting quote from the artist Salvador Dali which sums it up.

‘Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it. ~Salvador Dali’

The script has constantly changed and developed since we first started it in 2010 so I am looking forward to finally finishing it. Animation is so time consuming and as I have lost so much time through being unwell it will help to make the project achievable. Suzie’s advice is invaluable and I can’t thank her enough.

Oz Osborne Production Manager and Suzie Hanna Production Advisor

Oz Osborne Production Manager and Suzie Hanna Production Advisor

Oz Osborne who is now the Production Manager meeting Suzie for the first time, see picture above. Oz has continued to work with me since 2010 and is also helping with the script development. His help has been invaluable and I am so pleased he is now the Production Manager. I really feel I have got a good team helping me and after my relapse last year I feel more confident is getting the animation finished.

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Yessica’s Journey Presentation – Chalk Circle Theatre Company

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

Chalk Circle Theatre Company Facebook
The British Association for the Person-Centred Approach
Kate Hayes Person-Centred Therapist
Norwich and Central Norfolk Mind Website
Norfok and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust Website
Five Ways to Wellbeing New Economics Foundation Website

Bit behind on my blogging…opps. Please take a look at Kate Hayes report about the event, at the end of this blog which is brilliant, thanks Kate for sending to me. On the 25th September 2012 last year I was thrilled to be asked to do a presentation about Yessica’s Journey and my art to a group of people invited through the Chalk Circle Theatre Company. The event was held in Norwich in the evening at Take Five and was a great success. The Chalk Circle held several events around the theme of mental health so I was so pleased that they asked me to be involved and for giving me the opportunity to show my artwork. Thank you to Suzanna Coppolina and Adina Levay for giving me the opportunity to show my work and for your kind invitation and support.

suzanna anastaca

Suzannah Coppolina Director Chalk Circle and Anastacia at Yessica’s Journey Presentation

Screenshot of Chalk Circle invite to the Yessica's Journey Event

Screenshot of Chalk Circle invite to the Yessica’s Journey Event

Quote from Suzannah Coppolina Director – ‘Chalk Circle is a newly established professional theatre company working in collaboration with local and international theatre practitioners. Our aim is to create contemporary, innovative, challenging and cutting-edge theatre in Norwich and the surrounding area. Last year we produced 4.48 Psychosis written by playwright Sarah Kane. Sarah Kane is one of the most powerful and controversial playwrights of our time and her plays have been widely performed in Europe and South America. We, at The Chalk Circle Theatre Company would like to support and raise awareness of mental health and aim to host panel discussions, rehearsed readings, art exhibits and workshops based around the subject matter within the play.’

Suzanna and Adina created a fantastic play which I went to see last year – 4.48 Psychosis written by Sarah Kane. Adina directed the play and Suzanna was the main actress in the play. They both created an outstanding play and I was hugely impressed with their talent and creativity.

I displayed some of my artwork from Yessica’s Journey on the wall and also some other artwork from the Five Ways to Wellbeing diary and the character Antony the ant. I also brought my stop motion puppet ‘Undine’ and various information about animation in general.


Anastacias artwork on display

Tim Burton is my favourite director and has influenced and inspired me a great deal. I bought one of his books along for people to look at – a very creative person and hugely talented. I also displayed an armature for a stop motion puppet which is like a skeleton for the character which allows the character to move and be manipulated into different positions. I also took some flick books and my Zoetrope and Praxinoscope which is one of the early methods of creating animation using illusion and a revolving wheel. I used to use these when I taught animation. I thought it would be interesting to not only show my artwork but also incorporate a little bit of animation history.

display table2

Anastacias artwork on display

The Praxinoscope has a circle of mirrors within its centre which reflect a strip of drawings located within the inner part of the spinning wheel. When the wheel spins at speed it gives the illusion of moving images. The images appear stationary whilst the wheel is turning. Each drawing shows a different movement and when run in order, in rapid succession one image after another and at speed they blend together to magically make the image appear to animate. This replaced the Zoetrope which was less effective as it only had narrow slits and no mirrors making the image hard to see. See image of Praxinoscope below.

display table

Praxinoscope with mirrors front left of picture


My Apple Mac with artwork displayed and projector and speakers lent by Oz for the presentation

I took along my Apple Mac and had my artwork displayed on the projector screen changing every few seconds. Oz lent me his projector and speakers which was really useful. I also used this to show the showreel of my animation work which advertises the Yessica’s Journey project and my animation film ‘Undine’ which I completed for my degree which is around the same time that I became unwell so I felt it was relevant to the event.


Oz Osborne talking about his involvement with Yessica’s Journey at the presentation

I invited Oz Osborne to be a guest speaker and also to introduce everyone who was talking at the event. Oz has been involved with the project from the beginning and has helped support me throughout. He has also helped with the writing of the script and is now the Production Manager for the project. He also works with the Human Library and Time to Change and is passionate about the Five Ways to Wellbeing which he also talked about.


Anastacia talking at the presentation

I was really nervous about talking in front of everyone and especially about my work and my mental health difficulties. I had no idea what I was going to say but everyone said I did OK so I was really pleased. My presentation was around 45 mins I think and I showed the films and answered a few questions afterwards. I am pleased I did it as it gave me a lot of confidence which I have always struggled with.


People at the presentaton. My friend Silvia came and the lady at the front is a Neurologist from New York who just happened to be in the pub.

There was a small group of people who came to attend the event so I was pleased. I met a Neurologist from New York and she was really interested in my art and creativity. Her partner and her just happened to be in the pub and wondered through and looked at my art and asked if they could attend which is lovely.


Ruth Turner Psychologist from the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust

Maggie Wheeler, Chair of the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust kindly asked Ruth Turner who is a psychologist to give a talk about the work of the Trust and Mental Health. I wanted to ask some of the organisations who were involved with supporting and funding the project and did not want the whole event to centre around my artwork as I thought this would make the event really interesting to people. Ruth was fantastic and everyone was really interested in what she was saying about the NHS. She explained information really clearly and she was asked many questions so clearly the audience had an interest which was nice to see.

It was really nice as I met up with Ruth at the Chalk Circle 4.48 Psychosis play several months later with some of her colleagues.

ruth close

Ruth Turner


Kate Hayes person-centred therapist from Norwich and Central Norfolk Mind

Kate Hayes is a person-centred therapist and a member of the co ordinating group for British Association for the Person-Centred Approach (BAPCA). She works for Norwich and Central Norfolk Mind. Thanks to Paola Colombo, Manager at Mind and Peter Gianfrancesco, Chief Executive of Mind for asking Kate to give a talk at the event. Mind are one of the funders for the project and Peter is my mentor for the project. Please see the brilliant report at the end of this blog from Kate who wrote about the event which was published in the membership Journal for the British Association for The Person- Centred Approach


Kate Hayes talking at the event

Kate gave a really interesting talk and like Ruth there were plenty of questions from the audience. She did a fantastic job and it was really interesting to have two speakers from different backgrounds talking about mental health. Below is a picture of Kate and her son with Paola Colombo.

It is really nice as I have remained in contact with Kate and we sometimes meet up for a chat. She is also an artist so we have a lot in common.

Thank you to Ruth and Kate for coming to the event and giving your time to talk about your work, I do appreciate it. Thank you also to Oz for all your help and for coming to the event to talk and help me set up – thanks for your encouragement.

paola oz

Paola Colombo and Oz Osborne at the event talking

Below is some more photos of the event.

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Article written by Kate Hayes, Person-Centred Therapist

© Copyright 2012 Kate Hayes. All rights reserved. Please do not copy or download images or text.

This Article was published in the membership Journal for the British Association for The Person- Centred Approach

Yessica’s Journey, Chalk Circle, Frank Bruno and the person-centred approach.

It’s been an interesting month.

I have been fortunate enough to be introduced to a radical new theatre company called Chalk Circle. The company have started rehearsals for a production of the Sara Kane Play 4.48 Psychosis. The play starts in Norwich on November 8th at The Garage. The company has links to Norwich Mind and as a result of a discussion with a colleague I was invited along to meet the actors as they wanted to ask me questions about therapeutic approaches to psychosis and suicide. It was a daunting task.

Sara Kane, the author of the play committed suicide after writing it and the actors were struggling with how to represent the author sensitively and accurately. My contribution was minimal but many questions, some I could answer and others I couldn’t, were put my way. What I could say was how historically ways of ‘treating’ and supporting people who were experiencing distress have been under developed as the medicalization of distress has been the norm. I was able to share that there are creative and empathic ways to be alongside people in distress that are beginning to become more visible in society and have been around for more than half a century and are present within the Person-Centred approach, the Soteria network and Positive Psychology.

Chalk Circle encourage other artists and subsequently I was invited to attend an evening introducing Anastacia Tohill’s animation’ Yessica’s Journey’. Anastacia experienced a ‘psychotic breakdown’ as she chooses to describe it, at the age of 41 when she was at Art School. She courageously continued with her final show work ‘Undine’. She explained how she discovered a new depth and level of creativity as she struggled through her harrowing experience. This prompted her to make a film all about her experience; the project is named ‘Yessica’s Journey’. It is anticipated to be ready in three years and is going to be part of an awareness raising campaign around Mental Health Difficulties, Psychosis and Wellbeing – helping people to understand as well as challenge the stigma and discrimination associated with it.  On September 24th at take 5 in Norwich she exhibited some of the drawings and designs for the animation. Anastacia invited myself, a clinical psychologist Ruth Turner and Oz Osborne from Stuff Stigma, The Human Library and Time to Change to talk about approaches to psychosis and mental health. I called my talk ‘Psychosis A natural reaction to a distressing world?’.

I had not shared a platform with a Norfolk clinical psychologist before and as I was being introduced by Oz who was talking intensely to her in a corner, I thought I’d best speak with him before the evening started. As I approached I was interested to hear Ruth explaining to Oz how the only way of contacting people in distress is not through CBT but through listening to them and validating their experience. ..and then they calm down. On further discussion she explained she had studied Stephen Joseph and Gillian Proctors work for a dissertation she’d written about positive psychological attitudes to carers for dementia. She knew about post traumatic growth and fully accepted that rather than trying to persuade people to think differently, if you accept ‘where they are’ they can move towards growth. I appreciate this is not news to us, but for me this was an exciting dialogue as my local trust has been traditionally disinterested in the person-centred approach and now it seemed a  chink of light is opening up.

Anastacia’s brief animation Undine, made during her breakdown, was a remarkable film. The film is set in a farmyard  as a young woman‘s head opens the sequence in stark relief as a pair of scissors cuts her long hair and sobbing and the slicing scissors punctuate the image. The woman progresses through a journey moving through darkness to light in a beautifully illustrated and coloured animation. The film held a depth of sadness and distress but it was also surrounded by beauty and hope. Anastacia’s vision has developed throughout her process of growth and after 4 years of determination she has attracted the level of funding she felt she needed to create the work ‘Yessica’s Journey’. She managed to get some talking therapy recently which she feels is part of the key to her ongoing growth process. This is being provided by the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust and is incredibly hard to access. The people I see through the NHS are not under the mental health team and traditionally the only interventions offered are CBT and medication.

The evening was packed with interesting talks. I have already written about the Human Library in a previous PCQ. Oz is the person who brought it to the UK from Denmark. It originated from a music festival where there were so many different gangs and tribes in attendance they evolved this idea of a person being ‘a book’ that can be borrowed and listened to in order to effect mediation between differences. The project has grown and tours the country breaking down prejudice and stigma.

Ruth Turner spoke mainly about the early intervention service that works with young people who have had a first psychotic episode. They have three years of access to the team and services include taking them to University by taxi in order to attend lectures. It’s clearly a service that struggles with ethical dilemmas and also does not seem to have a counselling facility in built. Ruth seemed frustrated by forms and inconsistencies in the service and was not afraid to say that the system often makes people worse.

I was next and I acknowledged and responded to Anastacia’s film. At events such as these it’s easy for moments to ‘get lost’ and I wished to bring the focus back to the remarkable work we had seen an hour before. I shared my strong sense that the film and her process felt like a beautiful demonstration of the actualising tendency coming through her distress. She is achieving exactly what she wishes to achieve and as a result will impact on other people’s lives.  She beamed brilliantly back at me. I shared how it had made me think about the creative aspects of the person- centred approach and how Carl Rogers’ daughter Natalie had developed her own expressive arts therapy called the ‘creative connection’ and that this had evolved as a therapeutic approach in itself. I mentioned I had run certificates at the UEA on ‘contacting the creative self’ and this aspect of nurturing growth is recognised and supported by person-centred practitioners. I explained some of the theory around the approach, the importance and valuing of coming alongside a person, of listening to them, acknowledging their experience as valid for them and offering warmth and acceptance. I explained how in 1996 I had tried to offer counselling at a local support centre for people who had experienced severe breakdowns, called Bridges  as I felt strongly then that people who had gone through breakdowns or severe mental and emotional distress would benefit from person-centred processes. But there was no funding and the concern was that so many people would want it there would not be enough therapists to offer it.

Right up to the present day this valuable resource has not been introduced in to the mental health trust and their focus on medication and CBT remains intact. I introduced the philosophy around the Soteria network and Soteria houses. I also referred to the work of Dion Van Verde and the wards he runs in Belgium based on the Pre Therapy approach developed by Prouty and its growing influence in the UK. The multi-cultural audience was of a broad age ranging from seven to early seventies. I nicked (but attributed) Richard Bentalls phrases ‘social inequality drives people crazy, racial discrimination drives people crazy, Cities drive people crazy, Gay bi and transgender discrimination drives people crazy. My talk was more a dialogue and people were clearly keen to speak out about the medicalization of distress and appreciated the view that often natural responses were turned into and identified as illness. I also spoke about BAPCA, how it is open to a broad range of practitioners who are involved with or interested in the person-centred approach, the practitioner research network and our intention to gather evidence. I mentioned Frank Bruno’s visit to a charity event for Norwich and Norfolk Central Mind and how he expressed very strong feeling about the focus on medication and how there was a need for alternative therapies to be used.  I referred to Ben Goldacre’s article in the Guardian that had been published that weekend about the drug industry and mentioned Robert Whitaker’s books.

At the end I shared this quote from Carl Rogers ‘the curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change’.

This was well received and I hope that those who were at the talk will now naturally consider the person-centred approach as a way of being that is accessible to all. I also posed the idea that we are still evolving emotionally and that was welcomed by many within the group.

My son Jo who had come to support me reassured me I had done a good job and at the end said to me ‘The solutions to mental health drives people crazy’.

Here’s hoping that state of affairs may soon change.

Quote from Anastacia, the artist: –  ‘I thoroughly enjoyed the evening and feel it has helped me a great deal with my confidence, something which is very important in helping people with mental health difficulties. I would like to thank Suzanna Coppolina Company Director and Adina Levay Artistic Director for giving me the opportunity to share and talk about my work at the ‘Chalk Circle’ event. I would also like to thank Oz Osborne who gave a talk about his role on the project and his work with Time to Change, Rethink and the Human Library. Kate Hayes, Accredited Therapist and Ruth Turner, NHS Psychologist for giving up their time to talk at the event. I thought all the talks were so interesting and informative and clearly by the reaction of the people asking questions there was a great deal of interest which was lovely to see. It was clear to see how passionate people are about their work. Thank you also to Maggie Wheeler, Chair of the NHS Trust, Peter Gianfrancesco Chief Executive of Norwich and Central Norfolk Mind and Paola Colombo Mind Inclusion Manager for your support.’

‘Yessica’s Journey’ is an animation project about my journey through mental health difficulties and how I learned and developed a healing process to improve my wellbeing. The project is anticipated to be completed in 2015 and incorporates Stop Motion and 2D animation. The film is funded by, The Wellcome Trust, Norwich and Central Norfolk Mind, The Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, and has also been supported by Rethink and the Bipolar Disorder Research Network. The film incorporates the New Economics Foundation Five Ways to Wellbeing – Connect, Be active, Take notice, Keep learning, and Give. It is hoped that by showing a small glimpse of someone’s lived experience that it will help to educate and enhance people’s understanding, give people hope, and help to end and challenge the stigma and discrimination associated with it. It is also hoped that it highlights the importance of improving your wellbeing and encourages creativity in people, something which is very important. As a Freelance Artist I specialise in Animation and Illustration. I use mixed media styles, combining traditional with digital methods to create unique and meaningful art.’ For further information please see website links. Yessica’s Journey Website: | Anastacia’s Website:

Kate Hayes Mbacp (acc)

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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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‘Yessica’s Journey’ article published on Time to Change website

Anastacia’s ‘Yessica’s Journey’ article on Time to Change Website

Published on Time to Change website – Become a Champion

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

Screenshot of ‘Yessica’s Journey’ article on Time to Change website

I was thrilled to have an article about ‘Yessica’s Journey’ published on the Time to Change website. If you are a Champion and are involved in work which is raising awareness about mental health and challenges stigma and discrimination you can promote your work on their website. I contacted them and they said yes so I was really pleased.

I think this is such a good idea and encourages people to share with others what they are doing to help Mental Health. It gives people a fantastic opportunity to promote their work, their passion, their creativity and innovative ideas, whatever that may be. There are so many people out there actively doing good work and this is a great platform for them to share with others and hopefully will help people to get more involved, encourage creativity, and develop new innovative ideas to raise awareness about Mental Health. It is a great way to help others as well as helping yourself and gives you confidence, new interests and skills which I think are very important for your mental health and wellbeing.

I would like to thank Terese Jonsson and Time to Change for giving me this fantastic opportunity, I really appreciate it.

Screenshot of ‘Yessica’s Journey’ article on Time to Change website

Text Quote below taken from the Time to Change Website
© Copyright 2012 Time to Change. All rights reserved. Please do not copy or download images or text.
‘Time to Change Champions are people with lived experience of mental health problems who campaign to end mental health discrimination in their communities. They raise awareness by speaking out about their experiences, through events and anti-stigma projects. The Champions network offers opportunities for people who would like to increase their skills and confidence whilst being involved in different aspects of our work.’

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Time to Change East of England Networking Event

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 attended a Time to Change event at the King’s Centre in Norwich. It was a chance for like-minded people to get together and share and develop ideas about what the Eastern region can do to help with the Time to Change campaign in Norwich to challenge stigma and discrimination associated with Mental Health. The event was organised by Sarah James who is the consultant/trainer for our area. The event was very successful and everyone came up with some really good creative ideas. I thoroughly enjoyed it, knew quite a few people there so it was nice to have a chat and meet new people. I am a Time to Change Champion which is how I got invited to the event and if anyone is interested in joining please go to the website link above for more information.
I met Sarah last year when I did some voluntary work for the Time to Talk campaign outside Chapelfield shopping centre where we encouraged people to talk openly about mental health to help to try and change people’s perceptions and attitudes. It was a huge success. I have done quite a lot of volunteer work for them in the past and it has really helped me to become more open about my own difficulties.
The group came up with lots of ideas and decided that they wanted to bring the Time to Change Village event which was held in London earlier this year to Norwich. I was thrilled as Oz Osborne who works for Time to Change and has also worked with me on my project, is one of the people who came up with the idea and helped to design it. He is very creative and the idea of the Village is a brilliant concept.
I was asked to put their showreel of films together in a timeline with words fading in and out which was shown in the Cinema part of the village, and I got paid which is amazing. I have since had to do a couple of alterations to it so that it can be shown all around the country at many events. I am so proud to have been a part of it and helped in a small way and it really helped me with my confidence when I was not feeling well to do something so important. The thank you letter they sent me was so lovely and means so much to me, they really understand how to communicate and make you feel valued. I was supposed to do some voluntary work with the Village in London but was unable to go so I am thrilled it is coming to Norwich.
They are planning the event for September so can’t wait. I hope it encourages people to change their perception and attitudes about Mental Health and helps them to understand. It is through talking and education that people will realise that it can happen to anyone and it is nothing to be ashamed of. I strongly believe by speaking out, we can help reduce the stigma and discrimination and help people to understand Mental Health. The Time to Change campaign has been hugely successful and I predict it will go on to be even more successful in the future. They really understand how to communicate with people which is so important and actively want to engage with the public to change attitudes. That is what I like about them, you feel like you are actually doing something helpful and useful, something which actually makes a difference and which gives you a real buzz – great for your wellbeing. I like the fact that their volunteers and some of the people they employ have lived experience. It makes you feel valued and I am sure many people have benefited from taking part in their campaign.

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Peter Gianfrancesco from Norwich and Central Norfolk Mind and his sister Maureen visit – Yessica’s Journey Animation Project

Peter Gianfrancesco, Chief Executive from Norwich and Central Norfolk Mind with his sister Maureen from Australia and Anastacia

Peter Gianfrancesco, Chief Executive from Norwich and Central Norfolk Mind with his sister Maureen from Australia and Anastacia

© 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

Peter Gianfrancesco who is the Chief Executive at Norwich and Central Norfolk Mind and his sister Maureen from Australia visited me yesterday to see the progress of the Yessica’s Journey Animation project. Peter is one of my Mentors representing Mind who has also supported the project with funding, help and advise.

I really enjoyed showing them both all the work which has been completed so far. They were both very encouraging and seemed impressed with what has been achieved so far. Thanks to both of them for coming to see me and the Yessica’s Journey Animation project and for being so supportive.

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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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Claire Lussignea, Lead Psychologist from the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust – Question and Answer Document

© Copyright 2012 Anastacia Tohill and Claire Lussignea from the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust. Yessica’s Journey Blog. All rights reserved. Please do not copy, duplicate or download text.

Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust Website

I attended the Service User Redesign and Communication Group meeting in January (see earlier blog). Service Users from Hellesdon Hospital – the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust and other organisations were invited to the meeting to discuss two pathways – the Non Psychotic and Psychotic disorder and the Wellbeing Service.
This is the question and answer document which Claire and I produced which I am very proud of. I hope that this helps towards a positive and a greater involvement of Service Users working in partnership with the Trust to help one another and to learn from each other and to improve services and care as well as acknowledge the services which are working well. The document has been sent to the Redesign group which Claire requested and the Service Users Council and I hope that it has been helpful and encourages other service users to actively get involved in helping to shape, redesign and improve the NHS.
Thank you to Claire Lussignea, Lead Psychologist, and the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust Marketing Department for kindly giving me permission to publish this document.

27th January 2012

Anastacia Tohill  |  Service User Council Member | Service User Redesign and Communications Sub Group Member.

Here are some of the questions I wanted to ask but we ran out of time at our Redesign meeting on 26th January with the Non Psychotic and Psychotic disorder Pathway Staff. If you need further clarification about the questions or more details please do not hesitate to contact me.

These are my own questions that I wanted to ask but I will pass this information onto the rest of the group who may also find it useful.

I would like to thank Claire Lussignea who is the lead Clinician and lead Psychologist at the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust and was one of the members of staff on the Psychotic Disorder Pathway panel who has kindly taken the time and trouble to answer my questions. I also want to thank any other staff who also contributed to the answers. She said that we are still in the early stages of working out the Radical Redesign process and there is still a lot to be worked out and it is hard to capture complex issues. She has encouraged me to get back to her to discuss anything further from her answers. Thank you I do appreciate it and I have found it extremely helpful and encouraging.

I hope other service users and staff find it helpful and useful and I hope it encourages and helps to formulate new ideas, discussions and ways of improving the NHS system.

  1. If hope is central to recovery how will you use Service Users lived experiences to show hope to people who are experiencing Psychosis?

How will you use Service Users stories of hope?
How will you monitor the process?
How will you make sure the process is fair?

Answer: ‘Hi – we haven’t yet worked out all the detail around how we will use people with a lived experience within the service. We will be asking the service user redesign and communications group for some ideas as to how you think this would best work. However my personal thinking is that using people’s personal stories is usually a very powerful tool.’

How will you safeguard vulnerable adults who are feeling unwell and ensure they receive the right advice and message of hope? Would you provide professional training for Service Users and what would this be?

Answer: ‘There are formal training programmes which include supervision and coordination roles. There are different models used throughout the country. We will be looking at these and plan to use a tried and tested approach.’

How will you select suitable candidates for the role?

Answer: ‘Please see above’

  1. Have you thought about using creative activity as a way to help people who are experiencing Mental Health problems and creating useful projects which actually enhance peoples wellbeing and confidence and helps them to explore their own mental health?

Answer: ‘This is a very good idea. In an ideal world I would like to see such projects being service user led but with the required support and administrative support provided by the mental health service. Do you have any particular ideas? There is no barrier to us helping get these off the ground.’

  1. Research is very important in understanding Mental Health. Have you thought about using ‘Service User’ Research to enhance the Trust’s understanding of Psychosis. Using service users stories of experience, specific case studies, questionnaires, interviews. monitoring, recording and analysing the results to help improve the understanding of Psychosis?

Answer: ‘The Trust has a Research Dept which I know is supportive of Service User Research. The Early intervention Service is also very active in undertaking research into psychosis. I can provide contact details for you should you wish.’

Are you involved with other organisations with research into psychosis?

Answer: ‘Yes some of the research undertaken is collaborative with other organisations.’

  1. How will you ensure that Service Users are treated as individuals and recognise that each person has a unique experience of Mental Health? Are you going to move away from the typical tick box system and one size fits all way of thinking?

Answer: ‘I think what you are talking about here is a change in culture and in attitude of staff members. Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust has joined up to support IMROC which is a project looking at changing the culture and approach of mental health services to recovery. It is very focussed on putting the service user at the centre of the work. Would you like more information on this?’

The organisation is also in the process of revising its CPA paperwork. We will ensure service users participate in this review to ensure any new paperwork does not lead to a tick box system.

  1. Often personal qualities, experience and skills are equally as important as qualifications. What personal qualities and skills will you be looking for in staff.

Answer: ‘I think looking at some of the information coming out of the IMROC project will answer this better than I can. I will forward you some of the information on my return from leave and then we can have a chat if this does not answer your questions.

On every job description there is a list of personal qualities we are looking for from the staff member doing that job. We are also hoping to increase the number of job interviews that service users are on the panel for so that you are the people helping to determine who is employed.’

How will you make sure that you find the right staff with the right attitude and skills to help people experiencing mental health problems?

Answer: ‘See above.’

How will you monitor the effectiveness of staff?
How will you make sure that your staff receive proper training and guidance, support and time to ensure they give a good effective service. If staff are unhappy this sometimes reflects badly on the very people they are trying to help.

Answer: ‘All staff have clinical supervision and managerial supervision and also an annual appraisal of their effectiveness. These are the systems that are in place to support the above. However we are currently looking at Suffolk’s clinical supervision system to see if there are things we can learn from it.

The Trust’s training dept runs lots of courses and workshops for people. Some of which are mandatory. Staff are also supported to attend external courses. All this training is designed to ensure staff are receiving the necessary training and guidance to do their job effectively.’

  1. How will you ensure that you provide a fair system for everyone who experiences mental health problems. What will you do to ensure this? In a tick box type system often many people are left out from being helped as certain criteria can go against them.

Answer: ‘I am hoping that when the Payment by Results system comes in for mental health this will help for a fairer system. People will be allocated to a care cluster and each care cluster has a package of care attached to it that describes exactly what someone should get and options of things that should be thought about and discussed with them. This should mean less of a lottery about what help someone receives.’

  1. How can you ensure that assumptions are not made about what someone experiencing Psychosis says? How will you ensure that they are listened to properly? Sometimes people may have delusions but sometimes in amongst the delusions there may be some real events happening which are true. How will you differentiate this and how will you offer reassurance to someone?

Answer: ‘I think this is about the skills of the staff (so comes back to appropriate training and knowledge) and attitude of the staff (which comes back to the IMROC work and effective recruitment and supervision and appraisal).’

  1. Medication is important in helping someone to get well but talking therapy is equally as important especially in helping people to understand what is happening to them, why it is happening and how they can help themselves. It also opens the doorway to TRUST and HOPE. What talking therapies are being offered as a service by the Trust for people who are or have experienced psychosis?

Answer: ‘The care packages describe what should be offered to people with psychosis depending on which care cluster they are in. However as standard anyone with a new presentation of psychosis should be assessed for whether they are likely to benefit from CBT. However other therapies are also available depending on need. The trust provides a range of therapies including CBT, CAT, IPT and EMDR as standard.’

Is the Trust actively seeking out new and old therapies, researching therapies and trying out therapies to find out which ones work best and also find out good professional organisations and therapists which work and work well? Sometimes what works for one person will not work for others so it is important to offer a wide diverse range of therapies and therapists. It the Trust using Research to formulate ideas?

Answer: ‘The Trust is not doing all the research itself. This type of research involves many hundreds of people and therefore some people in the Trust are involved in big national studies looking at this. The National Institute for Clinical Effectiveness also periodically reviews the research evidence base for the treatment of different conditions and the Trust endeavours to follow these guidelines.’

Is this something Service Users could be involved in helping with – surveys, questionnaires etc. Monitor and recording of information perhaps so there is a database of good therapists and therapies. Could service users help the Trust in researching therapies in some way?

Answer: ‘I believe that the Trust’s Research Dept is keen to involve Service Users in research. I can provide a contact for you should you wish?’

  1. What do you think of the idea about psychiatry becoming like other medical specialities where there is a range of tests including imaging tests of the brain functions, blood tests and psychological tests to find out about susceptibility factors to mental health problems, help with diagnosis and enable help in a different way?

Answer: ‘I think this already exists for some conditions but not for others. This is not something I have discussed with colleagues but my own personal view is that we should make use of whatever is useful out there to help us understand our experiences.’

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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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Insight Magazine Article – Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust – Yessica’s Journey Exhibited at the Fruits of Mind Exhibition

The Well Artists Website

Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust Website – Insight Magazine

© Copyright 2012 Anastacia Tohill. All rights reserved. Please do not copy or download images or text. © Copyright – Some text and screenshots taken from the Insight Magazine from the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust

‘More than 40 artists with mental health problems exhibited their work at the annual Fruits of the Mind exhibition in Norwich. The exhibition, organised jointly with the Well artists’ collective – took place at the Forum. Around £500 worth of artwork was sold, comprising around one picture in every five. Many artists were exhibiting for the first time, and some were delighted to collect cash rather than their paintings at the end of the week.’

‘Many encouraging comments were left in the visitors’ book, and the curators from the Well had many interesting discussions with members of the public about mental health and art.’

‘If you would like to be involved in organising the next exhibition, or setting up an artists’ co-operative in your locality, contact
You can find out more about the Well by visiting’
(Quotes and text taken from Spring Insight Magazine Article – © Copyright Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust)

I exhibited 2 pieces of Artwork at the Fruits of the Mind exhibition last year. To see blog article and Artwork displayed please click on link  (Blog Article of Fruits of the Mind Exhibition 10th-14th October at the Forum Norwich)

Yessica’s First Character Design which I exhibited can be seen in the Insight Magazine Article. She is just peeping through in the background which I thought was quite good. I was thrilled to see her there. See screenshot below taken from the Insight Magazine. I have added text to show the Illustration in the background.

Artists Exhibit Fruits of the Mind Exhibition including Yessica’s Journey

The NHS and the Well do a fantastic job of displaying artists work who have experienced mental health difficulties. I was thrilled to be involved. It was great to be given the opportunity and this is the first time I have exhibited my artwork so it meant a lot to me.

Screenshot of Insight Magazine Cover

Above is a screenshot of the Cover of the Insight Magazine from the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust. Images of Maggie Wheeler who is the Chair and Aidan Thomas who is the Chief Executive.

The Insight Magazine is published on a quarterly basis and can be downloaded from the website. For more information and to contribute an article please phone the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust – Trust Communications on 01603 421494 | email:

You can become a member of the Trust and can receive the magazine in printed format as well as downloadable format. Please visit Membership at Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust

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How Apple iPads improve the patient experience

Link to article from Health Leaders sent by Linked in

Apple UK Website

© Copyright 2012 Anastacia Tohill. All rights reserved. Please do not copy or download images or text. © Linked in Article – Health Leaders Media.

I got this article sent to me via the LinkedIn Social Network for Professionals. Please read the article link above. It is really interesting that they are using Apple’s iPad in creative ways. It is helping plan patients care and clinical care. It is helping patient education and planning their care and recovery.

I have been using Apple computers for years and love them. They are so easy to use and very visual. As a creative artist the ease of use, reliability and visual interface makes it unique in the computer world. Highly recommend Apple Macs, they are reliable and rarely get viruses compared to PC’s.

Screenshot of iPad taken from Apple UK website

© Copyright 2012 screenshot taken from Apple UK website.  All rights reserved. Please do not copy or download images or text. 

I think that is it great that the NHS is embracing technology in a creative way. I hope this is something the Mental Health Organisations will consider as I think it could be very beneficial in Mental Health and Wellbeing.

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BBC Mental Health Website

BBC Mental Health Website

I found this really good BBC website on Mental Health and Wellbeing. It is really informative and interesting and has a wealth of information about Mental Health Difficulties, Coping Techniques, Therapies, Medication and lots of useful links and contacts to other organisations. Click on Link above.

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

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Giant Puppets in Liverpool

Link to BBC Video on Giant Puppets

My friend Ella Goodwin forwarded me this link to the BBC News about the Giant Puppets in Liverpool. Please see link above, it is amazing.

‘More than 250,000 people are expected to watch as three giant puppets play out a piece of city-straddling street theatre over three days in Liverpool this weekend. A 30ft girl, a dog the size of a van and a deep sea diver taller than most buildings are part of the entertainment called “Sea Odyssey”.’ (Quote taken from BBC News Article 20th April 2012)

Large puppet In Liverpool. Sceenshot taken from BBC News Article Video

© Copyright 2012 Anastacia Tohill. All rights reserved. Please do not copy or download images or text. © BBC News Article 2012, screenshot from Website.

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Exciting News – The Wellcome Trust has given additional funding to the Yessica’s Journey Animation Project

The Wellcome Trust Website

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

FANTASTIC NEWS for 2012 The Wellcome Trust has kindly given additional funding to the
‘Yessica’s Journey’ Animation Project – Thank You.

In March 2012 Yessica’s Journey’ has been successful in applying for additional funding from the Wellcome Trust. They have kindly given a substantial sum of money in addition to their original funding for the project. I would like to thank Marie-Lise Sheppard who is the Grants Advisor and works in Grants Management for her support, help and understanding. I would also like to thank the Wellcome Trust organisation for its continued support and for believing in this project.

Anastacia Tohill, Director/Producer and Animator for the project and Charlie Gauvain who is the new Support Coordinator for the project and works as a Producer/Executive Producer at Eye Film and TV  successfully put in an application in January 2012 to apply for additional funding. Oz Osborne, Wellbeing Mentor and one of the Scriptwriters for the project and works at Time to Change also contributed to the funding application. I would like to thank Charlie and Oz for all their support and help and also to welcome Charlie to the project in his new role.

I would also like to thank the following people and organisations for their continued help and for their supportive Testimonials which we sent with the funding application form. Thank you for your kind words, encouragement and time.

Oz Osborne – Rural Equalities Coordinator with Time to Change and Freelance Community Wellbeing Mentor
Peter Gianfrancesco – Chief Executive at Norwich and Central Norfolk Mind
Peter Edge – The Wellbeing Service at Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust
Maggie Wheeler – Chair of the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust
Roz Brooks – Director of Nursing, Quality and Patient Safety, Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust
Michel SyrettEditor, Pendulum Magazine Bipolar UK
Clare Dolman – Research Editor Pendulum and Chair of the National Bipolar Charity Bipolar UK (formerly MDF the Bipolar Organisation)
Dr Ian Jones – Reader in Perinatal Psychiatry, MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics,Department of Psychological Medicine and Neurology BDRN Research Network

I appreciate all the organisations continued support with the project and everyone in the project team who has helped with the ‘Yessica’s Journey’ project. We also sent the Script Feedback document which many people contributed to last year with the application. Thank you again to everyone who contributed to the Script Feedback Document.

Many Thanks to Everyone

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Exciting News for Yessica’s Journey – Visiting Nathan at Aardman Animations

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

Aardman Animations Website

On the 25th and 26th of October I was very excited to be asked by Nathan Sale to visit Aardman Animations in Bristol. He is the Head of Lighting and has kindly offered to help me with advice on purchasing lighting and camera equipment for the Yessica’s Journey Project. He has also offered a great deal of support and his professional expertise. I am so thrilled to have been given this amazing opportunity and I would like to thank Nathan for his kindness, interest and his support with the project. Please read below for more details about my visit.

Anastacia at Aardman with Wallace and Gromit

Aardman Character

I had a fantastic time at Aardman Animations and loved every minute of it. Nathan showed me around the studios and it was so interesting to see how all the animations are created. It really is incredible to see how everything is made, the time, effort, attention to detail and expertise which goes into making these animations is just amazing. I feel very privileged to have been given this opportunity and it has given me a lot of inspiration to work hard and keep going on the Yessica’s Journey Project. I also saw Nick Park who is the creator of Wallace and Gromit and Shaun the Sheep – this was great.

Nathan Sale, Head of Lighting at Aardman Animations

Morph is one of my all time favourite characters. I loved watching him with Tony Hart as a child in the seventies. I met him in real life for the first time, here he is below.

Characters from Aardman including Morph

After my visit to Aardman I had time to look around the City of Bristol which I really enjoyed. I walked around the river and there was a beautiful rainbow in the sky which I managed to take a photo of. Rainbows symbolise good and are a positive sign – a new beginning, transformation and growth. I really liked Bristol, it is a very warm and friendly place and it is the first time I have ever been. I also managed to visit the Cathedral and talked to a really nice woman called Elizabeth Mellor who is the Lay Minister.

Bristol Docks with Beautiful Rainbow

Bristol Temple Meads Station with Beautiful Rainbow

Nathan gave me a lovely gift, a walking Shaun the Sheep, which I love. He is so cute, I am going to use him as a little mascot to keep me going on this very long project – I have a lot of animating to do.

Gift from Nathan, a walking Shaun the Sheep

Shaun the Sheep in Reception at Aardman

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

Below is a slideshow of images from my trip, including images at Aardman and around Bristol. See blog below for images from Aardman trip in slideshow.

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Fruits of the Mind Exhibition 10-14th October at the Forum Norwich

‘Dragon Wing Faery’. Mixed Media, Traditional with Digital.

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

The images above are in the Fruits of the Mind exhibition at the Forum in Norwich from 10th-14th October. The Fruits of the Mind Exhibition is to showcase local artists who have experienced mental ill health and is being organised by NHS Hellesdon Hospital. I am very excited to showcase this work as I do not often exhibit. This is the first time I am selling my work except the illustration of Yessica. This is also a chance to promote the project ‘Yessica’s Journey’.

The illustrations are mainly mixed media combining traditional with digital. The illustrations are hand drawn in pencil and ink and then scanned into the computer. Hand painted textures of watercolour and marbling techniques are used to colour and texture the illustrations. The image is enhanced and composited in Adobe Photoshop digitally.

The ‘Dawn Light’ illustration has been specially created for this exhibition and is about my experience of mental ill health and recovery.

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Donate Cross Trainer Bike to Hellesdon Hospital

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

We are clearing dads gym to make the room into a temporary animation filming studio. Dad had a cross trainer bike he wanted to get rid of. I suggested donating it to Hellesdon Hospital. Peter Waterman and Steve Davies picked up the bike in their van, they both work at Hellesdon Hospital in Norwich. The bike is going to be used by people to improve their wellbeing. The bike is going into the new Wellbeing room at Hellesdon.