Worthing’s 6th Mental Health Awareness Week has been hailed as success by the organisers, stand holders and visitors. Nearly 700 people attended the various activities held throughout the Week which ran from 8th -13th October at Offington Park Methodist Church.
More than 60 local groups and organisations were represented during the week either by having a stall in the Information Centre and / or by leading a workshop or session.
On Monday 8th October, Revd Dawn Carn welcomed over 100 people to Offington Church before the Peace Candle was lit by the Mayor’s Chaplain Revd Gaz Daly. The Mayor (Cllr Paul Baker) gave a very moving personal speech and declared the Week open. The Mayor was joined by the Mayoress, Deputy Mayor Cllr Hazel Thorpe , Cllr Joss Loader (Chairman Adur District Council), Tim Loughton MP, Vice Chairman of the County Local Committee Cllr Elizabeth Sparkes and Cllr Noel Atkins (who is the Council’s Armed Forces Champion).
Cllr Val Turner (Adur and Worthing Executive Member for Health and Wellbeing) gave an update on social prescribing & Bob Smytherman, co-founder of WMHAW acted as Master of Ceremonies.
The main focus of the morning was ‘Mental Health: caring for our Veterans, their carers and families’. The keynote address was by Steve Hinton from the Carers Centre in Brighton who has recently organised a monthly supportive drop-in for veterans in the Richmond Rooms, Town Hall. Debra Kennard (WSCC Cabinet Member for Safer and Stronger Communities) explained how WSCC was supporting Veterans to find employment.
Carol Barber said she was delighted that the Navy Cadets from Northbrook Metropolitan attended the launch, and that there was so much local support for our veterans. Armed Forces Support and Outreach; Care for Veterans; SSAFA and Forgotten Veterans UK all had stands during the week. As 2018 marks the 100 Years since the Great War ended, both Carol and Bob believed it was fitting that WMHAW should focus on supporting Veterans and their families.
World Mental Health Day (10th October) was marked by a training session on SafeTALK (suicide alertness) delivered by Grassroots Suicide Prevention. Carol said she was thrilled that 34 local people, from all walks of life, had undertaken this training including the Deputy Mayor, Cllr Hazel Thorpe and the Chief Executive of Coastal West Sussex Mind Katie Glover. It is Carol’s dream to see Worthing recognised as a ‘suicide-safer community’.
The local Co-Op store in Broadwater was very generous in its support through the donation of stock which enabled lunches to be provided on the Wednesday and Thursday.
The Co-Op’s Community Pioneer, Cheryl Dennis, was in attendance all Week.
Cllr Bob Smytherman, who co-founded the Week, said it was delighted to see so many people attending the various sessions, being signposted on to appropriate care, and also enjoying themselves at the art, drumming, singing workshops and also at the film night.
The week concluded with a rousing concert compered by Guild Care Trustee Percy Nowell and organised by Karen Simporis on the Friday and was attended by 132 people with the retiring collection in aid of Coastal West Sussex Mind raising a total of £310.39 and all the musicians gave up the their Friday evening for the cause with many of them choosing talk about their own experiences of mental illness during the evening.
Plans are already underway for the next Worthing Mental Health Awareness Week 9th – 14th October 2019 and anyone interested in being involved should contact Carol or Bob.