Posted: by Jo Monday, 22 February 2021 @ 10:15
Inspired to be their best selves
Over the last 4 years, we have been running
our #mybestself campaign, to learn from different women about what makes
them step up to be their best self in any given situation.
In 2021, we decided to focus on a
particular audience, to understand what drives them: the women and men who set
up or work in the charities which we support through our ‘Mantra Changes Lives’
initiative. Does it take a particular kind of person to
devote their working life to helping people? Is it a calling? Or did an event
occur in their lives which drew them to this work?
I’m sure we will get 12 different answers
from 12 different people, and I am fascinated to find out what those answers
are. Stay with me through the year as I interview some remarkable people who
work in the charitable or not-for-profit sector, who are changing lives every
day. They are people who have truly stepped up to be their best selves.
One of our much-loved charity partners is
I was excited to find out more about what
drew Annie Belasco to work for PANDAS Foundation charity; what
drives her day-to-day through the inevitable difficulties and challenges; and
what her greatest desire is for the charity in 2021 and beyond.
Jo: Tell me a little about the aims of PANDAS Foundation?
Annie: Our charity is the leading perinatal mental
health peer-to-peer support service, aiming to reach every parent, network,
neighbour or colleague who wants to discuss the full spectrum of perinatal
mental health. We aim to help through our experience - lived, worked and studied; and offer hope, empathy and signposting, so no parent feels alone, from conception through
to birth and beyond.
Jo: And tell me – what was it that
prompted you to join PANDAS Foundation?
Annie: I worked previously in corporate
retail in a sales environment. My interest was always people - how we work, and our
mental health. After a break after suffering with breast cancer when I was 25,
I wrote a book as a therapeutic experience for my own recovery, and to help and
inspire other women who may be going through trauma at a young age. I then
reflected on my career and wanted to work in an environment which was heart-led,
which led me to PANDAS Foundation. I had horrendous perinatal anxiety with both
my babies, and used the free helpline - and to this day am so grateful for all
the help and support I was offered in my darkest hour.
Jo: What does the charity hope to
achieve 2021, and longer term?
Annie: We have had to adapt, as every
charity, business and home has had to with Covid19, and change our models.
Traditionally, the heart of PANDAS support were our incredible group support
teams dotted around England, Scotland and Wales. Due to government legislation,
we have had to change this model to an online one. You cannot replicate face-to-face support and comfort, but we can still do what we do best - which is to
listen, understand and bring empathy. We aim to expand our charity to meet the
increasing demands of parents and their networks, during and beyond this
pandemic, to fully ensure our services are as present, available and fully
inclusive to all.
must be innumerable challenges – logistical, political, financial, emotional –
to delivering on the charity’s aims, especially now with the impact of Covid.
How do you stay motivated and focused, through all of that?
Annie: We haven't used gimmicks or big
promotions - our true heroes are our parents, who so bravely sit up
and take notice of their feelings and want to recover for their own mental
health. We continue to commit and take responsibility to enhance our own
knowledge, so we are armed ready for every possibility. Although we are viewed
as a small charity, our work is imperative and we are the leading perinatal
mental health support charity within the UK. We are now at the stage where
demand is such that we want to be recognised financially by the government, as
we act as an early intervention service for the NHS, lessening the pressure
within perinatal mental health.
Jo: Did you plan, when you set out in
your career, that this is what you would be doing?
Annie: I didn’t ever have a plan. I wanted to
match my skill set in my early twenties to what, on paper, I was qualified in.
Moving into my thirties, I realised that I could only produce the best results
by following a career that I truly believed in, to help and support vulnerable
Jo: Do you have a mantra, or positive
phrase, that you live your life by?
Annie: 'Every challenge is an opportunity for
Our Mantra Collaboration
We are helping to support PANDAS vital work,
by donating 25% of the sales of our Third Eye Chakra Necklace to support them.
25% of the sales go directly to the charity,
so you can offer your support by choosing one of our Third Eye necklaces,
knowing that you are helping someone to get through a challenging time. The
mantra, ‘I trust my intuition. I call upon my inner strength’, reminds us that, deep down inside us all is a well of strength that has got us this far in
life, and that we just need to re-discover.
This month, there is a chance to win one of
‘Third Eye Chakra' necklaces. Visit our Competition page page to see how to enter, or follow us on our
Competition opens on 1st March and closes midnight Wednesday 31st March 2021.