Expert by Experience Iris Benson receives MBE for services to mental health

Mersey Care’s expert by experience, Iris Benson, has received her MBE for services to mental health at an official ceremony with HRH Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace.

Iris, 59, received her recognition in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List last June but officially received the honour at today’s ceremony in London.

Joe Rafferty, Mersey Care’s chief executive, said: “Since the day I arrived at the Trust four years ago, Iris has been an immense help to me and fully deserves this recognition.

“We pride ourselves on working with current and former service users in developing new ways of working and ensuring we set the highest possible standards for patient experience.

“The input of Iris and her colleagues has been invaluable to that process and everyone here at Mersey Care is very proud of Iris’ achievement.”

Iris Benson MBE said: “Going to Buckingham Palace to receive my MBE was a special day for me and my family, but I’d like to think I was going as the representative of everyone who has been through, or worked in, the mental health system.

“We talk a lot about co-production at Mersey Care and this award has definitely been co-produced. Without the support and help I have received over the years, I would never have been awarded this MBE.

“I believe everyone can achieve their dreams and reach their goals and I certainly never dreamed of the life I have today. It’s been truly co-produced with everyone including staff, carers and service users working together with me to try and make a difference for me and many others.

“During my lifetime attitudes and perceptions of mental illness and disability have started to change, but we still have a lot of hard work to do to challenge some attitudes and cultures and the stigma that remains everywhere.  We’re all on a journey in our lives and I believe we’re beginning to see mental and physical health thought about on an equal footing.

“At Mersey Care service users, staff and carers work together and we need to continue doing that, each complimenting each other in this different way of working. I believe we all have a gift and we need to enable, support and give people the right help that gives them back hope, opportunity and control to live a meaningful fulfil life like I do now.

"Without all this, I wouldn’t be here. I would certainly have taken my own life and I hope I can use my MBE to inspire and help others on their journey to recovery.”