Saturday 31 March 2012


The Five Nations meeting this week (Ireland counts as two for this purpose but nobody is arguing about that)

I've been up in Surrey and London much of this week so just catching up with the Blog...

Once a year five sister charities fighting the corner for people with a serious mental illness and their families meet to compare notes. This year it's the turn of our English colleagues in Rethink Mental Illness to host the meeting.

Among many topics it is interesting to learn that patient groups in England are not opposed to the principles behind the UK Government's Health Bill (actually it's just become an Act) by contrast with the "producer interest" of professional bodies like the BMA, although everybody seems to agree that the thing has become a complete dog's breakfast. The Welsh Government will have to find a way in due course to meet the expectations of modern consumers of health and social care even if, for now, they can sit back and relish the discomfort of the Coalition down the road.

Rethink is now located right next to the MI6 building by Vauxhall Bridge and I take a good look from the 15th floor down onto the spooks' modernist residence which looks like a 1930s radio but am unable to report any sinister goings-on. It occurs to me that it might be a mistake to poke a broom handle out of the window.

Meanwhile back in Wales and with other partners we have announced more details of our plans to climb Pen y Fan in May. Patients and carers are to scale South Wales’ highest peak in the Brecon Beacons to launch our "Movin’ On Up" campaign.

The mountain – which is the highest in any part of southern Britain standing at 886 metres (2,907 ft) above sea-level – will be the first big event of "Movin’" which aims to take service users’ and carers’ campaign for excellent mental health services in Wales to the next level.

Lee McCabe, a former service user who now works as a Recovery Practitioner at Hafal, explained: "The climb is symbolic: we want to demonstrate how service users and carers in Wales can lead the way forward, take services to a new level and achieve new heights in their empowerment by maximising the opportunities provided by the Mental Health Measure, the Carers Measure and the Welsh Government’s new Mental Health Strategy."

The Pen y Fan climb kicks off a summer-long itinerary of events including:

• 22 weekly county events covering the whole of Wales

• a Seminar on May 17th in Builth Wells in which service users and carers will develop their continuing dialogue with senior policy makers and providers of mental health services

• an interactive stand at the Royal Welsh Show in July

The campaign will culminate in a climb of Wales’ highest peak – Snowdon – on September 27th and there will be a follow-up display at the National Assembly on World Mental Health Day in October.

Our mountain climb coordinator Emma Billings tells me: "We’ve already had a huge amount of interest not only from service users and carers wanting to take part in the climbs, but also from mental health professionals from all sectors who want to show their support.

"We’ll also be publishing details of the Snowdon climb in due course. Those who are interested in taking part can contact me and I’ll make sure they receive the information."

Find all the details on this link.