An Interview with Damaris Charnley, Head of Support at Change Please

As we close off Mental Health Awareness week we wanted to highlight the amazing work our team do. Here you can find an interview with our incredible Head of Support, Damaris Charnley, as she discusses her experience working with those suffering from mental health issues and homelessness.


Tell us about your role at Change Please

"I trained as an occupational therapist, where I was taught vital skills to help people with their mental health and helping people into occupations including employment.

I started on acute mental health work and have experience working in outpatients, community services and most recently in therapeutic group work for high risk clients with a history of complex trauma, self harm and suicide attempts.

During my role at Change Please, I have created support structures, offering 1:1 therapy to all trainees, as well as ensuring support and impact is at the centre of Change Please and that we are continually offering the best for our trainees."


What is the relationship between mental health and homelessness, do you see a correlation?

"We understand that the people we work with have often experienced multiple traumatic experiences. This can impact on their Mental Health and ability to trust services and sense of self efficacy."


What services do you offer for those experiencing mental health issues?

"We offer all our trainees,

1:1 employment skills support – such as personal plans to improve time keeping, self care, interactions etc.

Advocacy to navigate services e.g. UC, immigration, accommodation, access to physical and mental health support, support with managing finances etc

Therapy- we can offer every trainee therapy either through our support team, our counsellor or help trainees needing longer term/ specialist therapy to access this through NHS services.

For those needing Mental Health support my years of experience in the NHS means I know how to help them with navigating services and can offer them an independent view on diagnosis, treatment and follow up.

Additionally, for trainees experiencing low mood / suicidal thoughts / crisis we can support on a 1:1 basis thinking how they cope and empower them to try and take control again and supporting them when they feel too overwhelmed."


70% of Change Please trainees have gone on to secure onward employment or education, what ongoing support do you provide?

"We support each of our trainees for up to 6 months after they leave Change Please. This support depends on what works for them, it might be visits, calls or even just know we are there to support if they need us.

This is a very flexible 6 months and we will always support trainees with advice and support after this date if needed."