Annabel: “I’ve been helped physically and mentally by the Charity, I’d recommend it to anyone”

Annabel Green was first helped by the Charity in 2015, following an injury to her knee, but she says a recent mental health course we helped deliver has finally aided her in tackling the pressures of her workload.

Working in the fire service comes with pressures many people will never have to face – so finding the right support for you, when things start to become too much, is of the utmost importance.

That’s something Annabel Green, 43, discovered earlier this year when she attended the Hope Programme we helped deliver, an online mental health course for beneficiaries which focused on aiding them in finding ways of coping with stress and anxiety.

And she says it helped her find new tools to manage her day-to-day workload and look after her mental health in the process.

Annabel, who joined London Fire Brigade 18 years ago as a firefighter, first experienced the Charity’s support in 2015 when she injured her knee during a fire call.

“I had to go to hospital straight from the fire ground, I had twisted my knee and couldn’t walk on it,” she says. “I later found out that I had torn my meniscus and, after an operation, I was on crutches for a few months.

“I was off work for eight months and that meant I then needed to rebuild the strength on my injured leg. I also needed to rebuild my overall strength and fitness.

“That’s the first time I really got in touch with the Charity, to rehabilitate my knee. I went down to Harcombe House for four days and it was great. I got a lot of exercises, specific to my own recovery that I could do. That was really empowering.”

As an active staff member within LFB, Annabel not only works her shifts, but is also a mental health first aider and a rep for support group, United Minds. It was someone in that group that put forward the Hope Programme to her.

The Charity has so far helped deliver two of the programmes with Hope, with another to be held in January 2022. The free, six-week online group self-management programme helps participants to feel more in control and more resilient. Each week it covers topics like: managing stress, smarter goal setting, gratitude, character strengths, physical activity, eating well, coping with fatigue, practicing mindfulness, communication and relationships.

“At the time I had loads on and was feeling quite worn out,” says Annabel. “I was sent information about the Hope Programme from another United Minds rep, firefighter Dean Corney, as something I could pass on to firefighters that might need it, but when I stopped to think, I thought: ‘I might need this myself’. I was pretty stressed out as I was juggling quite a lot of projects.

“I don’t have anxiety, but when your workload is too big, you can become stressed with it. As a Sub Officer, I ride as OIC of a fire engine, I’m second in command at my station but I often get sent out to be in charge of other fire stations for the day/night too.

“I see a lot of people… so when they tell me something’s wrong, I always try to help them!”

Annabel says she found herself becoming overloaded with additional work, which was increasing her stress levels, but taking time out to learn the coping strategies the course offered really helped her.

“I learnt new techniques to cope, I have downtime now,” she adds. “I love yoga, which includes meditation, and I saw how I got the peacefulness, breathing and mind-body connection from that. That keeps me healthy.

“I do and will recommend the Charity to people coming to me needing help.”

Annabel Green

“We also had one exercise where we needed to number how stressful each daily task was in our day… I tended to have lots of 6s and 7s back-to-back, so I’ve now rejigged things to have a 6, followed by a 2 or 3, followed by a 7 and so on.

“That to me is amazing – something as simple as timetabling your day/week.

“I’ve now been helped physically and mentally by the Charity, and I do and will recommend it to people coming to me needing help. It’s from a position where I’ve been – plus I know I’ll use it again in the future if I need to.”

If you’re struggling with your mental health, we may be able to help you. Call our Support Line on 0800 389 8820, make an enquiry online or register for MyFFC and visit the ‘Access Support’ tab.

You can also join our ‘Share Your Story Group in MyFFC to chat to others who have received the Charity’s support, or enquire about sharing your own story.