Friday 12 September 2014


Mark Williams MP has lost two stone recently and his tip is to "cut the carbs"! Mark followed his own "Let's Get Physical!" plan which included giving up cake and reducing his sugar intake. Great example for the campaign!

Amazing sunshine and warm air (even though we were right by the sea) at today's Let's Get Physical! event in Aberystwyth. We took the opportunity to take a shot at goal in a penalty shoot-out before refuelling with a nutritious lunch and healthy smoothies.

Service user Joanna Regan tells us: "It was a World Cup year this year so football is even more in the public eye than usual. Football is a fun game and it's a team game. We wanted to show that exercise can be about getting together and taking part in a sport, not just going to the gym.

"People have really enjoyed the football - even if they haven't played since school! Let's hope the campaign inspires more people to join a local club or even for mental health projects to set up their own teams."

Today's event was attended by MP for Ceredigion Mark Williams, Mayor of Aberystwyth Cllr Brenda Haines, and Leader of the Ceredigion County Council, Cllr. Ellen ap Gwynn.

Hafal Aberystwyth Housing Support Worker Evan Elias says: "We’ve already begun a training regime which will continue into the winter. A weekly walking group has been organised for Thursday evenings and we're running a healthy eating group in the local project. We want to keep the momentum going so that the campaign has a lasting effect. It's about making permanent, positive changes to the way we live."

Let's Get Physical! sets a challenge – both to service users and carers, and to service providers and policy makers – to radically improve the physical health of people with a mental illness and their carers. The campaign is supported by mental health charities Hafal, Bipolar UK and the Mental Health Foundation; Diverse Cymru helps to ensure the campaign reaches out to minority and disadvantaged communities. The campaign was launched by Health Minister Mark Drakeford AM in May and includes 22 events covering all the counties of Wales.

Incidentally I asked Mark Williams whether he had been ordered up to Scotland to shore up the "No" vote (he's a Lib Dem): apparently there was a call to arms but he's not going. It is indeed moot whether it is a good idea to send in outsiders to advise the Scots.

We should watch the referendum with interest because it is going to affect Wales either way. A "Yes" will place us and Northern Ireland in the curious position of tiny partners in a smaller union even more dominated by England. If it's a "No", and if the "devo-max"/home rule promise scrambled together at the eleventh hour by the unionists is delivered, then questions will be asked about Wales' contrasting "devo-lite" position.

Actually the big, bread-and-butter issue short-to-medium term for Wales remains the Barnett Formula - put another way the £500 less each Welsh person gets in public services under the unreformed, out-of-date calculation. Let us hope that Welsh politicians of all parties use the aftermath of the referendum to push for fair play for Wales, not least for people with a mental illness and their families who rely more than most on public services...