“Taking the Wheel”, the national client-run campaign to put mental health service users in the driving seat, reaches the Eisteddfod, Wrexham and District, July 30th – August 6th.

Following on from its fantastic success at the Royal Welsh Show, “Taking the Wheel”, the service-user led campaign which aims to empower people with a serious mental illness in Wales to take control of their lives and the services they receive, is moving on to the Eisteddfod, which takes place in Wrexham and District, from July 30th – August 6th.

Hafal’s stand at Europe’s largest agricultural event attracted thousands of visitors courtesy of its eye-catching camper – a 1964, 21-window VW Samba sourced from Colorado and fully reconditioned with authentic parts – which is spearheading the campaign. Visitors also enjoyed being able to literally ‘take the wheel’ and race in a camper van rally simulator, another highlight of the show. Both attractions will now feature at Wales’ premier cultural festival.

Hafal’s stand will also celebrate the work of all our projects in North Wales and feature (on Wednesday and Friday of the Eisteddfod) a stunning piece of art work which has been produced by service users and carers from Hafal’s projects in Wrexham and Flintshire. The striking Welsh dragon display has been created to celebrate the Taking the Wheel campaign’s presence at the festival.
Commenting on the campaign, which has been a popular attraction across Wales this summer, Hafal Chief Executive Bill Walden-Jones said: “The microbus and simulator have been a great hit with young and old at all the events so far. We are delighted to include the Eisteddfod on the itinerary and we anticipate – as we found when we took our campaign to the Royal Welsh Show – great interest in the classic vehicle and also in our message about empowerment.

“Service users and carers from across North Wales will attend the event and promote the campaign’s theme. The Eisteddfod will offer visitors the chance to see the great work we do in North Wales and across the rest of the country.”

The campaign, which began in May and runs until September, is engaging people receiving secondary mental health services or who have serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and other diagnoses which typically require high levels of care. Service-user led organisations Hafal and MDF the Bipolar Organisation Cymru have joined forces with the Mental Health Foundation to support the campaign which will empower people with serious mental illness to:

• Take the driving seat in managing their own recovery from serious mental illness.

• Make use of their new rights under the Mental Health (Wales) Measure.

• Make choices about the care and treatment they receive – and who provides it.

• Develop and manage services themselves.

• Engage with the providers of mental health services so that they can get involved in planning and commissioning mental health services.

The “Taking the Wheel” campaign features a rally around Wales in a classic VW microbus with a number of regional and national events. A total of 22 weekly events are taking place from May to September, one in each county, and major displays have/will be held at the National Eisteddfod and Royal Welsh Show.