It’s not often I can think of an occasion when I would start a blog post with something that I saw on Facebook, but today that’s exactly where I find myself …
For those of you who are Facebook aficionados, you’ll be familiar with the fact that it now feeds back to us memories of posts from our past, things we’ve previously posted on Facebook and shared with the world. And today, two memories popped up which struck me and which I thought I would share.
Three years ago today, on February 5th 2013, I managed to get my first small article in the local paper about “the young people’s mental health support group I am trying to set up here in East Devon “. I was still trying to raise enough money to get The Project off the ground!
One year ago today, on February 5th 2015, I was awarded the Deputy Prime Minister’s Mental Health Hero Award for the South West, and I was on my way to London with my daughter, Jess, to receive the award! To be there with Jess, who as most people know, is the reason why The Project exists at all, was one of the most special days in our family’s story and her recovery from mental ill health, and also in The Project’s short journey from a seed of an idea to a reality which has far exceeded all my expectations.
A year on from there, and we have just opened our second young people’s support group in Chard, Somerset, following the success of our East Devon group – and we are in talks to set up two more groups, one of which we hope will be in West Dorset; we run a valuable Parent/Carer Group providing much needed support to those supporting young people experiencing mental distress; and we are building on our very successful mental health training for professionals, communities and young people, which is now beginning to bring in an income to help make The Project more sustainable.
We have been recognised and endorsed through Comic Relief funding, through donations and grants from local community groups and organisations; we now have four members of truly awesome staff, a fantastic and committed team of volunteers, and an Advisory Group made up of professionals from the fields of mental health, education, marketing and health policy. We give talks to raise awareness around mental illness, are invited to speak at conferences and asked for our opinion as leaders in the field of peer support for young people. We have established a great reputation with schools, medical professionals, mental health services and commissioners – and most importantly, with young people and parents.
To say I’m proud of what we have achieved would be a major understatement! If this is what we can do in the first three years, I can’t wait to see what we can do in the next three … 🙂
Thank you to everyone who has supported us, and contributed to our success.