A rewarding journey – Samantha is our NHS Hero

From helping children play sport to helping people live independently, Samantha Farley (34), feels very lucky for the rewarding journey she has been on throughout her career so far.

Samantha, who lives in West Bromwich, works as an occupational therapy technician in the Early Intervention (EI) service which is provided by Dudley and Walsall Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust (DWMH).

“I studied a degree in sports at university, it was from then on I knew I was interested in being hands on and getting stuck in with whatever my job was going to be,” said Samantha.

After graduating, Samantha began her role as a P.E. teacher in both primary and secondary schools before moving onto football coaching. From there, her career took a slight turn when she landed a role as a parent support worker, working with parents to help provide their child with the best opportunities for the future. Although she enjoyed the role, her rewarding career really began when she made her journey into mental health.

“I have always had an interest in mental health since a young age so when I saw a vacancy for an activity coordinator on one of the wards at Bushey Fields Hospital in Dudley, I applied,” said Samantha.

“My brother was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia at the age of 18 and I was 13 at the time, it really had an impact on our family but made me want to help make a difference.”

Samantha said: “I loved my role as an activity coordinator but once I saw a vacancy for an occupational therapy technician within DWMH, I knew it was the one for me, I’ve been here for over six years so you can tell I really do love it.”

Sam provides therapeutic interventions to help assist with people’s recovery and help them develop skills to allow them to live independently which could be anything from cooking independently to getting back on the bus.

“When people come to the EI service they are at the critical point of their illness so we see them on a regular basis to help them live their life as best they can by carrying out meaningful activities and so seeing them make a recovery is just the most amazing thing.”

Samantha has had many highlights throughout her career especially involving working with people on an individual and group basis but her biggest highlight so far has been setting up ‘Beat the Block’, a football project for males within the EI service. The weekly sessions, hosted by Walsall Football Club, consist of playing football and having the opportunity to socialise with one another.

“The Beat the Block programme has been amazing for our patients, it has really made a positive difference to their lives as they are able to focus their attention to football and you can tell it really contributes to their happiness,” said Samantha.

So who is Samantha’s hero?

“My two-year old daughter, Lottie, is my hero because she just amazes me in every single way.”

Samantha’s mental health message: “Self-care is so important so make sure you take time to do something that makes your happy.”