Grace Hernandez, College Wellbeing Coordinator
Supporting the College community
In November 2022 Grace Hernandez came to Homerton as the College Wellbeing Coordinator. Her role is to support the community in their wellbeing. That might be by organising stress-busting and mindful workshops, providing wellbeing resources, offering drop-ins for a chat and a space to offload for all students, staff and Fellows. Grace also specifically offers staff and Fellows 1:1 sessions and regular catch up meetings, providing a space to feel safe, supported and listened to. She also helps within the pastoral team, organising activities, tools and resources to help support students as well as the team.
This term there are, and have been, various things that staff, Fellows and students can decide to engage with including sewing, mindfulness laughter, relaxation and breathing workshops. There has been Zumba, yoga and ‘Take a Cake Break’ for our students during their exam period. Staff and Fellows are invited to the drop-ins on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday 2-3pm (Cav G14) to chat and offload with Grace. The student drop-ins are 10.30-11.30 am Tuesday and Wednesday (Cav G14). There are always craft resources and biscuits available during these times. View the wellbeing activities here.
Grace also has a role to play in the ‘infrastructure and processes’ regarding wellbeing and how this is implemented across the Homerton community. In this aspect of her job she has arranged for an external safeguarding audit to take place conducted by SCIE (social care institute of excellence) which is currently underway.
“Since arriving at Homerton I have also relaunched the Mental Health Champions, for which training is happening this month, delivered by CPSL MIND. This is a great way for our staff and Fellows to build a community founded on wellbeing and a culture of peer support.
I would love to develop a wellbeing programme that can support individuals to develop themselves holistically and to help students become well-rounded individuals whilst studying here at Cambridge. I would want this to have a broad scope including topics such as finance, emotional intelligence, time management, organisation, physical exercise, breathing, mindfulness, academic challenge and celebrations of one another’s differences and diversity.”
Finally Grace says:
“If I was to offer some advice to our community about optimising their mental health and wellbeing, I would say find things that bring you joy and prioritise them, give them protected time that you are unwilling to negotiate with! Setting time aside for you to enjoy life is just as important as setting time aside to achieve.”
I started by doing my BSc in Psychology at the University of Roehampton, with the hope of becoming a probation officer. I was offered a MSc Forensic Psychology at The University of Kent but turned this down as I was advised I would then become overqualified for my aspiration of becoming a Probation Officer. Instead, as I was keen to start working having graduated, I worked as a Healthcare Assistant in a private secure forensic hospital working with males who had previously been hospitalised in Broadmoor. I then moved back to Cambridge – the place I grew up – and started work an the Acute Assessment Unit at a local hospital as a Healthcare assistant with individuals who had been admitted via various routes such as A&E and the Police (section 136) to support them going through the assessment of whether they needed further Mental Health treatment as well as detoxing patients. I was then asked to join the Mandatory Training Team to help teach the Trust’s staff (including both mental health inpatient staff, rehab ward staff, community teams) conflict resolution, PREVENT, restraint, basic life support; a modified version of intermediate life support. I chose to work part time to study my MSc Integrative Counselling at the University of Greenwich which my clinical placement was with the charity MIND. I then moved to training staff in the Mental Health Act, Mental Capacity and Suicide Mitigation as well as other courses like Mental Health Awareness as well as other bespoke courses such as difficult conversations, trauma informed practice.
Grace’s career advice is:
“Identify where your passion is and then look at the careers you can make from it so that you end up working in a field you love. If you are struggling to identify this for yourself then ask people that know you well , those who you are able to trust to call out where you come alive in life, where do you get energy, by doing what?”