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A Place for Lost Souls

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Audiobook Downloadable / ISBN-13: 9781529429671

Price: £24.99

ON SALE: 22nd June 2023

Genre: Biography & True Stories / Memoirs

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A young psychiatric nurse recalls her eye-opening experiences at one of Britain’s secure mental hospitals during the 1980s.

‘Ultimately, my experiences as a mental health nurse have taught me that we should judge less and open our hearts more.’

Belinda Black was just seventeen years old when she began working as a nursing assistant at the large and foreboding ‘madhouse’, as it was then known to the villagers of her hometown in the north of England. Following in the footsteps of her mother, she went on to spend a decade caring for patients with widely varying mental health problems, all locked up together and out of view of society. They included:

Olek – a haunted, diminished and damaged survivor of a Nazi concentration camp

Orla – whose peaceful demeanour and lovely smile hid a determination to kill herself

Agatha – an extremely violent paranoid schizophrenic with a wonderful sense of humour

Warren – who stabbed a person to death after he was let out.

But A Place for Lost Souls is also about the other psychiatric nurses there, from those like Sister Kane who suffered from depression and found treating others a welcome distraction, to others like Belinda’s friend Sally, who always had a sense of humour however dark the situation.

Together, against a backdrop of rattling keys, clanging iron doors, and wards that smelled of disinfectant and stale smoke, these people came together to get through another day. Until the hospital, along with many others, had its doors closed in 1991 – the biggest change to mental healthcare in NHS history.

The result is a moving, shocking but ultimately life-affirming account of a unique and noble profession, told from the frontlines. Amongst so much sadness and distress, and despite witnessing some of the darkest corners of human suffering, Belinda finds hope: in the camaraderie of her colleagues, in the patients she cares for, and in her unwavering belief that even people who have committed violent crimes are fundamentally good.

(P) 2023 Quercus Editions

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Reviews

Stories that range from heart-wrenching to shocking
Yorkshire Post
[A] moving memoir
Daily Express