Lifetime Achievement nomination for Ramsgate Southeastern worker who used own trauma to develop mental health support for industry colleagues

Ramsgate Southeastern worker Lee Woolcott-Ellis has been nominated for a lifetime achievement award

A nomination for a Lifetime Achievement Award has been made for Ramsgate Southeastern worker Lee Woolcott-Ellis.

The 58-year-old has been shortlisted in the National Rail Awards for his pioneering work on mental health support where he has developed a mental health advocacy programme for the rail firm and founded the Railway Mental Health Charter (RMHC), in collaboration with RSSB (The Railway Safety and Standards Board) which was launched in May 2021.

Lee, who shares five children with his partner of 23-years Mandy, has been with the rail service for more than 20 years since starting as a guard at Ramsgate in 1990. He had a break from the job, working with police and the NHS, before returning in 2015.

Initially a high-speed onboard manager Lee then moved on to his mental health role. Putting together the advocacy programme was born from Lee’s own experience of childhood trauma, his eventual diagnosis of complex PTSD and his path to recovery.

Lee was taken from his family home in Ramsgate at the age of six and sent to live in boarding schools in Devon and Sussex. That decision by the local authority was the beginning of 10 traumatic years of abuse that hugely impacted his life.

Many years later Lee went on to track down those offenders and bring some to justice for their crimes against him and other boys. Other offenders took their lives before being dealt with by the legal system.

In 2013-2015, Lee went to weekly therapy to learn how to manage his past and the effect on his mental health.

Lee said: “I eventually realised things were not right and I asked for help. I got referred to a community mental health team and had two-and-a-half years of therapy. I came out of that thinking ‘this is life changing.’

“I began to recognise myself and familiar behaviour in other people and began to think maybe they didn’t know what to do or who to speak to and decided to do something about it, make sure they had someone to speak to.”

In 2018 Lee developed a mental health advocacy programme to support colleagues who experienced a toll from witnessing suicides and attempted suicides and suffering violence and antisocial behaviour during their work or were suffering due to other issues.

He also developed the Railway Mental Health Charter in collaboration with The Railway Safety and Standards Board which is a framework to help rail companies promote, manage and support workforce mental well-being. To date, 101 companies have signed up for the Charter across England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Bravely, Lee published a book in 2017 called A Childhood Not Easily Forgotten charting the horrific abuse between 1970-1980 and also his search for truth, work to bring those responsible to justice and the process of rebuilding his life and future.

Lee advocates to bring both mental health and childhood abuse subjects into the light, to remove stigma and encourage people to seek the help that will aid recovery.

He is a Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England Instructor, has a CBT Diploma, a level 2 counselling accreditation and a national certificate in awareness of mental health problems.

Lee has also been working on trauma risk management and there is now recruitment for 16 TRM practitioners to take up roles with the rail firm.

Lee said: “It is a British military programme that enables people to assess trauma in the 72 hours after a traumatic event and help address it before there are long-term problems.”

Lee’s second book ‘Constructive Survival’ should be available later this year.

The National Rail Wards ceremony takes place at the Dorchester in Park Lane on September 14.

A Southeastern spokesperson said: “Southeastern is really proud of Lee’s actions and his hugely deserved nomination for this prestigious award.”

Find A Childhood Not Easily Forgotten on Amazon here