Monday 4 October 2010

Swansea Swansong

The microbus rolled into Swansea to be welcomed by Lord Mayor Richard Lewis and Lady Mayoress Mrs Angela Lewis on the last of its 22 "official" county visits (actually it has got more freshly-scheduled events in October owing to popular demand). The reception in Swansea is fantastic, especially in view of the bad weather. Unlike the Ryder Cup the event is not disrupted by rain and 365 people sign up to the key campaigning messages...

• Wales has recently been given the power to create new mental health legislation and the Assembly Government has introduced a draft "Measure" (Welsh law). Hafal Members would like the new law and accompanying regulations to give all people with a serious mental illness a legal right to a holistic care plan, and to set out all the areas the care plan should cover. We believe that care plans should include all the areas specified by the Welsh Code of Practice for the Mental Health Act, as follows: medical treatment; other forms of treatment including psychological therapies; personal care and physical wellbeing; accommodation; work and occupation; training and education; finance and money; social, cultural and spiritual aspects; and parenting or caring relationships.

• We believe that in future all mental health services should be developed and delivered in response to individuals' care plans. This would mean giving each person a 'menu' of services to choose from so that they can exercise choice as much as possible in their recovery.

• Given the pressure on public spending, we want resources for mental health and social services to be fully protected – and for new resources to bring mental health services up to scratch.

Richard Timm, Chair of Swansea’s Hafal Partnership, added a local spin: “The event is promoting health and wellbeing and also highlighting the importance of self-management and recovery. Healthy food and drink alternatives are on offer throughout the day to show that healthy eating can be delicious. We’ve also organised a Tai Chi session, a bike ride and a carers’ walk".

Richard and colleagues supported by Practice Leader Steve Reynish have identified local issues concerning mental health service users in Swansea:

• Long waiting lists for talking therapies.

• The lack of sufficient supported housing for those with serious and enduring mental illness.

There will be many people to give credit to when the "Road to Recovery" tour finishes at Hafal's Autumn Conference on 11 November but I take this opportunity to extend our thanks especially to Morgan Williams and David Curtis, both volunteers at Hafal Bridgend, who have performed much of the behind-the-scenes work to prepare and set up the microbus displays alongside Andrew Macintosh as well as attending the events and greeting visitors.

Hafal's volunteers like Morgan and David, many of them also Members of Hafal and therefore in charge of the organisation's policy and governance, make all the difference in enabling Hafal not only to deliver its own local services but also to improve the lives of everybody who is affected by mental illness in Wales through our campaigning work.