Wednesday 8 June 2011

Good Will, Flexibility and Patience

Following her visit to Ceredigion last week the microbus has crossed the Teifi and thrashed her tiny air-cooled engine to arrive safely at Guildhall Square, Carmarthen today for my home county's "Taking the Wheel" event.

Hafal's lead in Carmarthenshire Jonathan Willey says: "A display of the work our project provides has taken pride of place at our event today. There's been plenty of refreshments and information on hand for visitors too. Those who've wished to test their knowledge of mental health have taken part in our mental health driving test quiz which has proved a lot of fun.

"Our popular campaign camper van and racing simulator have been on hand for visitors to view and enjoy; visitors have been able literally to ‘take the wheel' as they've raced in the simulator which has been exciting."

Clive Evans, 47, who has schizophrenia and attends the Hafal Ammanford Resource Centre talks eloquently about how he has taken the wheel: “Since moving to Ammanford two years ago my life has changed completely thanks to support from Hafal Ammanford, Sŵn y Gwynt Community Mental Health Team and friends.

“I feel that for the first time in my life people have listened to me and what I need. Hafal helped me put together a programme to make changes which led to me reducing my medication, joining a gym and learning how to use a computer. I feel I’ve come a long way in a few years. Hafal staff have provided me with the support to make positive changes to my life; I now have freedom to move on after many wasted years.”

Yesterday I bumped into colleagues from MDF the Bipolar Organisation and the Mental Health Foundation - our two partners in the Campaign - and we agreed the initiative is going really well. A quick reminder that the Campaign aims to support patients to...

- Take the driving seat in managing their own recovery from mental illness

- Make use of their new rights under the Mental Health Measure

- Make choices about the care and treatment they receive – and who provides them

- Develop and manage services themselves

- Engage with the providers of mental health services so that they can get more involved in planning and commissioning those services

Meanwhile a quick tribute to Andrew Macintosh, his two stalwart volunteers David and Morgan, and the other staff and volunteers keeping the bus on the road. As you can imagine the 22 local events plus two big shows present major challenges in organisation and staffing. Hafal doesn't have any fancy, dedicated display team so all this requires a lot of good will, flexibility and patience - not least when the 21st century car alarm system lets us down yet again while the 1960s German engineering carries on reliably!

Next stop Blaenau Gwent...