Thursday 28 July 2011


170 service users, carers and their families turned out yesterday to support the "Taking the Wheel" campaign at Hafal’s annual North Wales event held in the glorious setting of Eirias Park, Colwyn Bay. I am proud to report that my team won the tug-of-war competition which required four consecutive back-breaking contests: I am not sure whom to contact first - my doctor or my solicitor.

The campaign (see the details here) is empowering people with a serious mental illness in Wales to take control of their lives and the services they receive. It's been a big hit across Wales this summer not least at the Royal Welsh Show which took place last week. Following yesterday's event our intrepid team set off to put together our stand at the Eisteddfod starting this Saturday in Wrexham. By the end of the summer we will have held events in all 22 counties.

Thomas, a service user attending the annual North Wales Event for the second year running, told us: "I’m really interested in this idea of taking control of resources so I can purchase my own care package. This sounds really good to me because it not only means I would get a choice, but it would also keep services on their toes because they would have to convince me to choose what they have on offer. This could make all the difference because at the moment services often have a take-it-or-leave-it approach and they aren’t really incentivised to provide what we want." Quite so - only real consumer power will make services truly responsive.

The event has saw service users and carers from across North Wales take the opportunity to compete in a number of activities including Tai Chi, boules, kite-making, five-a-side football, a treasure hunt and of course the infamous tug-of-war.

Hafal's Janet Randles, who must take much credit for organising the event along with many colleagues and volunteers, said: "It's been a fun day out for clients, carers and staff as there’s been so much to do."