Nicola Binns' story for NHS75

As the NHS reaches a momentous milestone of 75 years, this is an occasion to celebrate the dedicated staff and volunteers who have shaped the NHS into what it is today.

In the lead up to the NHS’s birthday on 5 July, LYPFT staff are telling their stories of inspiration and dedication that led them to join the NHS and what motivates them to continue their important work. 

Nicola Binns is an Associate Practitioner with our EMERGE Leeds Service and a Staff Clinical Governor.

My NHS journey began when I was 18 when I started work as a domestic at the Roundhay Wing, which was an acute hospital for people with mental health difficulties. The role wasn’t working directly with patients, but I spent a lot of time with and around them, and they’d often talk to me about their problems. I had my own work to do, but I was drawn to wanting to help them. It wasn’t long before I knew deep down that I was in the wrong role, and recognising this was a real turning point for me.

I was encouraged to take the next step in my career for many years, but it was a while before I found the confidence to take the plunge! When I did, I enrolled on the Associate Practitioner course and successfully completed it.

Seeing and being part of people’s journeys in mental health is what keeps me inspired.

Even when I’m having a tough time in life, when I go to work I know I am doing something to help people who are in more challenging situations, and this completely changes my outlook.

I now work as an Associate Practitioner with the EMERGE Leeds service, supporting people with complex emotional needs, but through Covid I found myself back on an acute mental health ward. This was the most challenging time of my career, but I look back and feel so proud that I helped the most vulnerable people at the most difficult time in life.

An image of LYPFT colleague Nicola Binns at the donkey sanctuary


One of the absolute highlights of my current role is the work we do with the donkey sanctuary in Leeds. Donkeys have a natural ability to help people develop social and emotional skills, and seeing the difference in our service users who have been on a course at the sanctuary is amazing. Our visits there have helped our clients to grow in confidence, engage more, and learn how to build trust, and many find communicating through the animals to be easier. It’s great for slowing down and helping us all to be more present.

I’m a Staff Clinical Governor at our Trust and have seen first-hand how valued our people are. I was utterly stunned to be elected and it’s my privilege to be an ambassador for the NHS and to represent my colleagues. I’ve had opportunities in the past to mentor the interim CEO for the NHS for a year, and feel that staff are well looked after, respected and seen for the work they do. I couldn’t be more proud to work for the NHS.