Wednesday 1 September 2010

Merthyr Riot

Great fun at the Merthyr "Road to Recovery" event last week. Practice Leader Shan Davies and her team have turned the whole premises over to display their activities and feed the crowd very efficiently with a choice of mouthwatering and healthy hot and cold food. Staff and volunteers have dressed up sixties fashion and indeed would not have looked out of place in the Summer of Love. Malcolm Lewis (picture below) shows me around and introduces the Mayor and other guests. Not for nothing did Shan get an award for enterprise recently as the entrepreneurial approach to development is everywhere evident, ranging from horticulture to cooking, from woodworking to IT skills. The project is also extensively engaged with the community including hosting a Citizens Advice Bureau both for our clients and for local residents - a really smart move.

Five more events each week in September - Pembrokeshire, Bridgend, Monmouthshire, Neath Port Talbot, Swansea - will take the microbus to the end of her summer tour which will no doubt be a relief to several staff, not least the indefatigable Andrews Mulholland and Mackintosh who have ensured she gets to all the venues, though I sense they too have had a bit of fun notwithstanding the early starts and overall hard work.

Following the tour the next key role of the bus will be modelling for publications and web-based materials where she will lead our development of new information for everybody affected by serious mental illness, including younger people who have responded very enthusiastically to the bus's iconic style.

An early outing will be a new, introductory guide to recovery aimed at patients and families first coming to terms with serious mental illness. The microbus will symbolise the journey to recovery: a Ferrari really wouldn't have worked because we need to suggest the need for patience and careful driving! We know from experience that if patients get a well-informed, practical but "realistically optimistic" vision at an early stage then their prospects are much improved. Watch this space.