North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson, who is Minister for Disabled People, marked Mental Health Awareness Week in Swindon by meeting a range of voluntary and charitable organisations which provide mental health support services at TWIGS (Therapeutic Work in Gardening in Swindon) on Friday 20 May.
The charity, based at the Cheney Manor Garden Centre, had arranged a number of events for people to get involved with and enjoy.
Organisations involved on the day included Swindon Mind, Rethink, SOBS (Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide), Swindon Samaritans and the Olive Tree Café. Representatives from local businesses including Zurich were also in attendance. Activities included relaxation sessions, and planting seedlings whilst youngsters from Crowdys Hill School choir opened the day with a performance.
Alan Holland, Service Manager of TWIGS said: “We were joined by both Swindon MPs Justin Tomlinson and Robert Buckland. Justin was telling us that he is very involved in making it a fairer and better world for people with mental health issues, and how important the work of the charities in Swindon are for people in the town.”
Dr Donna Lovell, acting CEO of Swindon Mind, said: “Poor mental health is now the number one reason for staff absence so it makes sense that managers have training in mental health awareness and how to spot signs that an employee is struggling and might need support. Swindon Mind is getting more and more requests from employers for mental health awareness and this is a step in the right direction.”
Justin commented: “At any one time, 1 in 6 of the working age population has a common mental health condition, and a further 2 in 100 are affected by severe mental illnesses like schizophrenia. This Government has made it an absolute focus to deliver parity of esteem, the principle by which mental health must be given equal priority to physical health. This is crucial and in my role as the Minister for Disabled People, I have been working hard to reach this.
“I am extremely proud that here in Swindon we have a number of fantastic organisations that do brilliant work to support people with mental health conditions, and I continue to meet with the leading charities in this area both locally and nationally to continue the discussion on how we improve services.”
Gathered together at TWIGS Garden, from left, Maria Atkinson, of Samaritans, Dan Beasant of Rethink, Steve Carr, MindCanyon, Andy Rowland, Swindon MIND, Jackie Parry, SOBS, Alan Holland, TWIGS, Donna Lovell, MIND, Justin Tomlinson MP, Tony Martin, Zurich Community Fund, Nas Orchard, Awareness of Gambling, student mental health nurse Catherine Wootton.
Below, Justin with Donna Lovell and members of MIND Swindon. Photos: Richard Wintle of Calyx