Sunday 13 May 2012

On Top Of The World

Wow that was a busy week for Hafal! Movin' On Up reached Swansea on Thursday and then on Friday our first big mountain climb up Pen y Fan.

Over 100 mental health service users, carers and health professionals scaled the mountain as part of our national campaign run by mental health service users and carers across Wales. Rising 886 metres above sea-level, Pen y Fan in the Brecon Beacons is the highest point in southern Britain.

I have been up Pen y Fan many times but I confess I had a little trepidation as I haven't done a good uphill walk for a few weeks. However, after a little puffing on the lower slopes the pipes seemed to clear and I was in high spirits as I moved quickly around Corn Du and up the final ascent to the top where all the climbers, most of whom had never been here before, congregated to celebrate and wolf down our picnic lunch kindly provided by Barclays Bank.

As we were eating the swirling cloud cover moved above the peak and we could all see for miles 360 degrees around, including the Bristol channel and Somerset to the south, Snowdonia to the north and, relatively nearby, the Black Mountains (with their Christian heritage of the Gospel Pass and Llanthony Abbey) to the east and the (confusingly similar but note singular) Black Mountain (with its mysterious pagan heritage of Llyn y Fan Fach) to the west.

We made the climb to mark the "step up" in service user and carer campaigning in 2012 - a momentous year when the Mental Health Measure, Carers Strategies Measure and new Mental Health Strategy promise to deliver new rights and opportunities.

Setting off - I am out of shot having dashed back to Base Camp to fetch my lunch which I had forgotten

Christine Evans, a service user from Neath Port Talbot, tells us: "It was an epic climb! The walkers had a really good time getting to know each other and standing at the top of the mountain felt terrific.

"The interest we've had from service users, carers and professionals from all over Wales has been huge. And I'm sure there'll be just as much interest in our Snowdon climb this September.

"The climbs are symbolic: we want to show how service users and carers in Wales can lead the way forward, take services to a new level and achieve new heights."

The "Movin' On Up" campaign is run by service users and carers and supported by mental health charities Hafal, Bipolar UK and the Mental Health Foundation...

Mel Cook - Mental Health Foundation, Bill Walden-Jones - Hafal, Sue Wigmore - Bipolar UK

More fun next week plus a serious bit with our Seminar on Thursday where service users and carers will facilitate dialogue with movers and shakers from the Welsh Government, NHS, and local authorities. I'll also have more to say in this Blog about the draft Mental Health Strategy, a key target for our campaign...