An NHS worker is taking on a charity challenge to help bolster wellbeing at work, after a childhood trauma left her struggling with her own mental health.

“I was 16 when I walked into my family home and was met by a burglar running at me with a knife,” Angela Jones, who works at Stevenage’s Lister Hospital, explained.

“My first instinct was to get out of his way as I thought he would leave my house, but he didn’t.

“He ran at me and held me with a knife to my throat for a few hours whilst he was ransacking my house.

“He left me bound to my bed and gagged when he was eventually disturbed by a neighbour and fled.”

Mental health support at the time - more than 30 years ago - was limited, Angela said, and she developed her own coping mechanism over time.

However, a recent attempted break-in at her home brought her childhood trauma to the fore again.

Angela, now 51, explained: “It opened up all the survival modes I had developed in protecting my family and home, and feeling like I needed to be continuously on guard, preparing for the inevitable.

“This became extremely tiring, and I eventually confided in my line manager due to the exhaustion I felt.”

Angela said she was immediately put in touch with a mental health and wellbeing service and given the support she needed.

“I’m in a much better place,” she said, “and I just want people who are struggling to know that there is help out there."

Looking back, Angela said: "As a 16-year-old, the hardest part was the realisation that only I could get me through coping with this.

"People just didn’t know what to say or do, and it was the first night of having to sleep back in my bed, which I had been tied to, that I realised this.

"I had been sleeping in my parents' bed because I was so scared. That first night back, and each night after, was as traumatic as the ordeal itself. That was when I had to develop my own coping strategies to get me through each night.

"What would I say to my 16-year-old self now? It would be how proud I am of you. I would hug you so tight, especially through those nights, and say 'you’ve got this, you’re going to be ok.'”

Angela is now focusing her energies on helping others, taking on the Three Peaks Challenge with Lister colleagues to raise money for the East and North Hertfordshire Hospitals’ Charity to spend supporting the wellbeing of staff in emergency medicine at the East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust.

The team includes consultants from the East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, which runs Lister, and mental health and social care service provider the Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust, as well as nursing and operational managers.

Angela said: “I want to do this challenge to recognise what our teams have been through during the pandemic, along with people’s own personal battles and struggles that we may be unaware of.”

The Three Peaks Challenge involves climbing the highest mountains in England, Scotland and Wales – Scafell Pike, Ben Nevis and Snowdon – over a 24-hour period.

“This challenge is completely out of my comfort zone,” Angela admitted.

To sponsor Angela and the team, visit

The Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust provides access to primary care psychological therapy services in Hertfordshire and mid Essex through a wide range of confidential talking therapy treatments and practical support for adults with common mental health problems, including anxiety, low mood, insomnia, stress and pregnancy-related issues. Visit for more information.

If you need someone to talk to, you can call Samaritans' free helpline at any time of the day or night on 116 123. You can also chat with the Samaritans online, send an email, write a letter or use the self-help app. Visit for more information.

If you need help in a mental health crisis, call 999 if it is a life-threatening condition and emergency intervention is needed, otherwise call the Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust free on 0800 6444 101 or email