Friday 8 June 2012

Cake World

(left to right) Hafal Cardiff Practice Leader Junaid Iqbal, Hafal Chair Elin Jones, Hafal Head of Public Affairs Peter Martin, Cardiff West MP Kevin Brennan, Cardiff West AM Mark Drakeford, me, Sue Wigmore Bipolar UK

The very week in which I embark on a healthy diet I am invited to judge a cake competition! This is sprung on me along with Hafal Chair Elin Jones and our Bipolar UK colleague Sue Wigmore when we attend Cardiff's Movin' On Up event yesterday. Although we only sample a little piece of each this is a welcome respite from the regime. Chocolate and lemon seem to be the current rage in the cake world and we enjoy all of them - plus a robust bara brith which comes a respectable third.

Meanwhile we are visited by Kevin Brennan MP and Mark Drakeford AM and we have a good chat about the Measure and about the undevolved mental health issues of criminal justice and benefits. Kevin offers to support a lobby exercise in Parliament which we should take up in the autumn. Kevin makes the point that we need to advise MPs, AMs and Councillors about the new Care and Treatment Plans prescribed in Part 2 of the Measure - because they are the obvious reference point when they are trying to help constituents with a serious mental illness get their needs met across the range of housing, employment, benefits and so on.

Commenting on the new Plans and the forthcoming launch of Hafal’s guide, Cardiff service user Luke Rowlands says: "I currently have an old care plan which doesn’t look at all eight life areas. I look forward to receiving a new Care and Treatment Plan and to someone sitting down with me to chat about things other than medication. The introduction of Hafal’s new guide is a positive step forward, too. The guide, along with support from Hafal’s project in Cardiff, will support people like me to make the most of the exciting changes that are taking place in mental health in Wales."

Well said, Luke. The key to getting the most out of the new legal rights is to get active, read the guide, and spell out to your Care Coordinator what you want - and if that's difficult for you then get your carer involved or ask for help from Hafal or another advocate.

See our guide here - it not only explains how to complete the Care and Treatment Plan but gives lots of practical ideas on what to put into your Plan including long-term goals, short-term actions, and where to get help and support - all based on advice from hundreds of Hafal clients.


Along with a lot of shop talk I discuss with Hafal Chair Elin Jones the use of languages as secret codes (don't ask me how we got onto this!). Navajo Indian is the most famous example, used extensively by American marines in WW2 - story here. Comanche was also used and their code word for Hitler was "crazy white man" - not, I would have thought, all that cryptic? Welsh was also used in WW2 and more recently in the Balkans but it just isn't obscure enough: you would indeed have found professors of Celtic Studies in Berlin, Tokyo or Belgrade who could have "broken the code". Mind you the BBC accidentally broadcast a Welsh language programme on pig breeding on its Middle East service during the war - it got muddled with an Arabic language propaganda programme made with the minority community in Bute Town, Cardiff and the mistake went unnoticed until a sarcastic letter was received from an academic in Cairo querying the number of people in that part of the world who both spoke Welsh and ate pork.