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Siân's journey to Chrysalis 

(the short version)

It’s really important to me that people know I didn’t waltz in from some ivory tower and take up a CEO position with no understanding of the charity I work for or the issues we work with, so I’d like you to cast your mind back to 2004… (I actually looked up what happened in 2004 and was amazed to see that was the year Facebook was launched!!! Wow…) but also that year I had been working as an Information & Policy Researcher in Manchester for 4 years since graduating from university, when I very impulsively decided to marry, sell my house, leave my job, sell all my possessions and go off travelling. 

The man I married however had extremely complex mental health problems and within a matter of months he would be under a mental health Section at Whiston Hospital, and I would be a mental and emotional wreck. I have struggled with anxiety since I was a very small child and depression since I was a teen – I still have both of those conditions but thanks in large part to the Chrysalis Centre – I am able to manage them really well now. I’ve also had a lot of personal counselling so I’m a huge advocate of therapy and the work we do at Chrysalis. Back in 2004 however I was living in a state of almost perpetual anxiety, as a carer for someone with mental health problems. I would describe it even to this day as feeling like someone had scooped all my insides out and replaced it entirely with fear.

I could write a book about just that subject but instead I'll just say as well as being a mental health carer for someone with such intense and relentless problems, whilst coping with mental health problems myself, I also have personal experience of domestic abuse in all it's forms, grief in all its complexity, and I know what it is to suffer - but I also know how to survive and thrive, and for me that was possible because of the Chrysalis Centre and the magical people in it

And fortunately for me – in 2004 an organisation called Together for Mental Wellbeing referred me to a confidence and assertion course at the Chrysalis Centre. I was so nervous coming here that I had to do breathing exercises for about 20 minutes just to get myself out of the house, but I did and by the 4th week of the course I felt so much stronger, and I knew I wanted to volunteer for them. As it happened, there was a gap at that time for an admin and finance person, both of which I had experience with and enjoyed,  so in February 2005 I became a volunteer at a tiny little desk in a windowless office, with a plastic box for my things. (I have photos to prove it 😊 ) 

By 2006 I was volunteering 4 full days a week, and then in 2009 we finally got our first significant funding, and I was offered a part time paid position as the Admin & Finance Officer, and I carried on volunteering for the rest of the week. I became full time in 2010/2011, and then in 2012 I was promoted to Assistant Manager, then in 2018 I was promoted again to Manager and in 2021 my job title changed to Chief Executive Officer.

I’m never sure if people are aware of what I do day to day so among other things - I do all the finances, oversee the admin and systems, I created the website, the flyers and the logo and set up the social media, I work on policies, business planning, funding, board meetings, income generation, governance and compliance and I’m the I.T. "department".

My hope for telling you some of my history is that now you all have a bit of a better understanding of why I do this job – because it’s not just a job to me - I have lived and breathed the Chrysalis Centre for the last 17 years and I couldn’t care more about it if I’d have set it up myself. I try to work as hard on the development of Chrysalis as I do on my own personal and professional development, and I will continue to do so as long as you let me – thank you.