Testimonials and Awards
"I had the opportunity through my role to undertake the peer leadership training courses, and during this process I met Deb’s at a stronger together meeting and then watched her as part of the course material, and finally had the privilege to attend a meeting/workshop that she led this month. The session was extremely interactive with all participants able to share their own journeys as well as learn about Deb’s.
On a personal note, I referred back to Deb’s session when trying to support my son portray his story to his employer, helped me see that I was perhaps not sharing the relevant aspect to this audience. The exercise really highlighted the importance of getting the message right and clear, depending upon the audience and time provided. It was truly inspiring, and it helped my son and I pitch his message in the best way possible under the circumstances, resulting in the employer offering reasonable adjustments for his learning. Thank you". Deborah Gittins Strategic Health Facilitation Lead Wakefield Adult Community Learning Disability Health Team
Wonderful to hear your story Debs, I've heard you speak before and your story just gets more and more relevant
Amazing Debs - thanks for sharing your story!
That was powerful Debs - thank you for sharing
thank you very much so inspiring pleasure to hear and work alongside you
Forever inspiring Debs. Comments from an online presentation 26th May 2023
“Hearing about a recovered life- a message I will pass on to my young adult daughter who often doesn't believe it's possible.”
“Your journey is very powerful. I am always trying to understand how mental illness affects individuals differently and this has helped. Thank you so much for sharing”
“There's a lot of things you can do beyond medication or in tandem with it. Thanks so much Debs for sharing your story!”
“Was such a powerful session, thanks Debs I have a lot of friends who have been told by MH professionals that they'll never get better/always struggle with it and I know many of them are starting to challenge these beliefs about themselves and fight back against the MH system which definitely isn't as supportive as it should be”
“Thank you so much for sharing your story so honestly and candidly, Debs. Such powerful and inspiring messages”
“Thank you so much for sharing, it has been uplifting, and highlighting areas to try - such as art etc”
“Thank you for sharing your story Debs its great to hear other perspectives, all of this helps to deconstruct the stigma”
“Thanks Debs very powerful and inspirational. One more thing i use most days is Mindfulness Colouring”
“Debs thank you so much. I've kept wanting to try art but always thought I wasn't good enough. Definitely feel inspired to give it a go now.”
“I really value how honest and open you are, it's so brave and inspiring”- Feedback from an online session via Holly Beattie, Media and Public Affairs Officer. Health Equals/The Health Foundation.
"I had the privilege of attending one of Debbie’s workshops in May 2023, focussed on sharing lived experience stories. The workshop was so well planned, thought out and really bespoke for the group of which attended the session. It was really interactive, thought provoking and the message was really clear. Debs passion to support others always shines through, and as she is so experienced in sharing stories- and seeing where it is ‘done well’ and where it isn’t, she can really bring that human element in to workshops because she has witnessed (and probably experienced this) first hand.
Her presentation was clear, well presented and the key messages really landed with the group and myself. The feedback following the event was nothing but positive and inspired by her words and exercises that really highlighted the importance of getting the message right and clear, depending upon the audience and time provided. She also offered tips on reflective practice and things to look out for/ask for post presentations. It was truly inspiring, impactful and really allows Debs to shine in what she really feels so passionate and advocates for- listening to, and working with people. Thank you Debs". - Kirsty Jowett Regional Lived Experience Manager NW/NE &Yorkshire NHSE.
“Debs recently delivered a group teaching session to our local strategic coproduction group, titled from patient to peer leaders, the session received really great feedback from all who attended, it was well delivered in a really engaging and inclusive way. It was very impactful and thought provoking, I feel it will enable us all to share our lived experience in a more effective way without it having a detriment effect on the person.
The whole package delivered by Debs from discussion to session delivery was really professional and organised”. - Tracey Lowe. Personalised Care Project Manager. Fiona a participant of this session wrote “Deb is such an inspiration and fantastic at what she does”
"Debs’ story and her paintings are an inspiring testament to the power of the human spirit and the power of art to transform and heal. Debs has learned how to attune and manage her sensitivity and hold its power in a warm embrace, feeding her creativity. She brings forth and shares her unique view of the world born of the alchemical mix of pain, loss and sorrow, with joy, compassion and love expressed in her art. At the beginning of her healing journey, Debs first used her paintbrush to gather the broken pieces, the fragments, slowly mending and remaking a beautiful multi-coloured, multi-textured cloak of protection around herself. Fired by her passion and generosity, and from a place of strength, knowledge and experience, Debs now shares and unfolds her warm, rich cloak outwards as an invitation for others who wish to join her on the journey." - Dr. Jane Myat, GP, co-founder of The Listening Space, council member for The College of Medicine
" I wanted to say thank you to you Debbie. Your courageous story has changed my practice as a G.P. I used to think art was an augmentation to our medical guideline based tables and psychological therapies. You have proven otherwise. I need to listen more to 'what matters to you'" - Dr. Farzana Hussain The Project Surgery London.
"I have been impressed with how you continuously push for more support for people with disabilities. I feel that there are improvements that society needs to make in order to not only provide more support to individuals with physical disabilities, mental health difficulties and learning difficulties, but also to how they value the sheer wealth of knowledge, experience and insight they bring. I know that you always see the ‘able’ in disabled, you are a very strong voice and beacon for individuals with disabilities and you ‘fight’ for us at every single opportunity" - SWK
Yorkshire Woman of Achievement (Courage) 2016 - Shortlisted candidate
Health and Care Top 70 Stars 2018 (I am number 5)
Excellence awards SWYPFT - Outstanding Achievement 2016
ADSHEROES Respect and Dignity award 2018
Inspiring Women - Inspiring Women March 2023
Pharmacy Movement -How to Prescribe Social and Digital Medicines 2018
Publications (media, reports, reviews or educational)
CREEK'S - Occupational Therapy and Mental Health (sixth edition) 2023
Pearson BTECH National - Applied Psychology 2023
Metro Newspaper Painting lessons saved my life.11 May 2022
Yorkshire Post Woman who was told by doctors she would never work again reveals how art changed her life.10th March 2022
Platinum magazine June 2021 edition.
The Asset-based Health Enquiry - How best to develop social prescribing. London South Bank University 2019
NHSE case study. Social prescribing linked me to art which saved my life 2018
Realising the value of individuals and communities: delivering Chapter 2 of the NHS Five Year Forward View. 7 Sept 2016
Mental health today magazine. On the record. May/June 2015.
Public Health Today Magazine. The Final word. Sept 2015
Yorkshire Standard. Inspiring artist Debbie who beat depression hosts first solo exhibition. 1 July 2014
A Picture of Health. Mental health first aid/Barclays bank. Canary Wharf London. Art exhibition. 4th Feb 2014
Yorkshire Life magazine. A colourful answer. Oct 2013
Halifax Evening Courier. Debbie beats depression with painting. 2 Aug 2013