Wednesday 20 July 2011

21 Windows, 22 Counties

Hafal Chair Elin Jones and Ceredigion manager Julian John (acting up as lead mechanic)

Our client-led campaign "Taking the Wheel", which is empowering people with a serious mental illness in Wales to take control of their lives and the services they receive, is storming the Royal Welsh Show this week.

The campaign features a rally around Wales in a classic VW microbus with 22 weekly events taking place from May to September, one in each of the 22 counties. We have already had a fantastic turnout at our stops in places such as Cardiff, Aberystwyth, Carmarthen and Caernarfon. It has really captured the public's imagination.

Visitors to the Royal Welsh are literally taking the wheel as they race in a camper van rally simulator. The campaign camper itself - a 1964, 21-window Samba sourced from Colorado and fully reconditioned with authentic parts - has already gained a huge amount of attention on its travels and is a terrific draw for the tens of thousands attending Wales' premier show.

The campaign, which runs until September, is engaging people receiving secondary mental health services or who have serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and other diagnoses which typically require high levels of care. Service-user led organisations Hafal and MDF the Bipolar Organisation Cymru are working in partnership with the Mental Health Foundation to support the campaign which will empower people with serious mental illness to:

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

- Make use of their new rights under the Mental Health (Wales) 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 involved in planning and commissioning mental health services

A word from our partners...

Sue Wigmore, Manager, MDF The Bipolar Organisation Cymru says: "MDF Bipolar is very excited to join forces on this user-led campaign which brings together the two mass membership organisations for patients with a serious mental illness in Wales, Hafal and MDF The Bipolar Organisation Cymru, along with our friends in the Foundation."

David Crepaz-Keay, Mental Health Foundation, says: "We are very pleased to be involved because we recognise how important it is that people with a serious mental illness take action to help themselves. We are delighted to support the campaign along with Hafal and MDF The Bipolar Organisation Cymru."