Staff from North Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust have been given a boost by popular artist Charlie Mackesy after he sent two prints of his work to support our staff wellbeing programme.

Charlie Mackesy’s book, ‘The boy, the mole, the fox and the horse’, with its beautiful illustrations,  were given out to acute inpatient and community teams by our health psychology service, to support the wellbeing of staff who have experienced a range of emotions during the coronavirus pandemic. The prints were kindly donated by Charlie Mackesy, in recognition of the extraordinary work the NHS staff have done during the crisis, after the health psychology team praised his work on Twitter.

Dr Louise Harrold, a senior clinical psychologist with the team said,

“During the pandemic, the health psychology team put one of Charlie Mackesy’s books on many of the hospital wards and community bases with a note to say they hope it brings some comfort, and offers hope and inspiration during these challenging times.  It certainly appears to have had a significant impact on our staff.    We also put up some of the prints on the staff notice boards, to help staff to feel they are not alone in their struggles, and what they may be experiencing is ‘normal’ under very adverse circumstances.  We encouraged staff to seek additional support through our staff wellbeing network, as well as attending the drop in sessions we were providing on the COVID and non-COVID wards”.  

“One of the popular prints we have used features the quote “What is the bravest thing you’ve ever said?” asked the boy, “Help” said the horse.

“This has resonated with many of our staff and helped them to understand that ‘it’s okay not to be okay’, and that they are not alone in what they are feeling, we are here to help and support if and when it’s needed.”

Deputy Sister, Fiona McNaughton from the Cumberland Infirmary said,

“We hadn’t heard about Charlie Mackesy before but everyone knows that we lost a colleague from COVID and Louise brought the book up as part of the healing process.  Everyone thinks it’s fabulous and we can all relate to being either the boy, the fox, the horse or the mole.  It’s given people support and made them feel important and loved really.”

Salli Pilcher, Associate Director of nursing for the community care group who is herself coping with the after effects of COVID said,

“I’ve been following Charlie for some time on social media, and I’ve been reposting a lot of his illustrations.  I think the illustrations can be used in any circumstances but they are so relevant during COVID whether you are isolating, shielding, whether you have been working through the pandemic as a frontline or essential worker, whether you have been home schooling, had covid, on the long COVID journey or just having a down day, there is always something to cheer you up.”

Dr Harrold added,

“We’re delighted to have received some prints from Charlie Mackesy himself, and we are now planning to have them framed and put up in the coming weeks across the Trust.  It’s been lovely to hear that a lot of staff have been inspired by his book, finding hope and inspiration from the quotes; even passing a copy of the book on to family and friends.”

Other comments the team have received from staff include:

  • “Some of the stories were like they knew how I was feeling”
  • “The pictures resonate with how I am feeling at the moment, striking a chord, and making me feel less alone”
  • “It’s okay to feel like this”
  • “Gives you permission to take time out, and be present in the moment when you look at the pictures, acknowledge how you feel”
  • “Gives me hope”
  • “I have his storm quote up on the notice board behind me and his book by my bed – it has helped me through my long covid journey and also helped me reach out to team members and colleagues when the going has been tough for them – his pictures say a million words.”
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