Taking the Wheel’s next stop – the North Wales Event

“Taking the Wheel”, a 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, will be at Hafal’s annual North Wales Event on Wednesday July 27th 2011.

This major event will see over 150 people including service users, carers and their families come together to support and celebrate the Taking the Wheel campaign which has been such a big hit across Wales this summer. The event, which takes place in the glorious setting of Eirias Park, Colwyn Bay, will feature a range of activities including five-a-side football, a treasure hunt and a tug of war. It promises to be a fun day with a serious message.

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.

Commenting on what visitors to the event can expect, Hafal’s Janet Randles said: “Our popular ‘Taking the Wheel’ campaign camper van and racing simulator will give our annual North Wales Event an extra dimension this year, it will be on hand for visitors to view and enjoy on Wednesday; visitors will be able literally to ‘take the wheel’ as they race in a camper van rally simulator which promises excitement and fun. There will be plenty of information on serious mental illness for people to take away, too.”

Janet added: “Our annual North Wales Event will see over 150 people with a serious mental illness and their carers from across North Wales have the opportunity to compete in a number of activities including Tai Chi, boules, kite-making, five-a-side football, a treasure hunt and a tug of war. It will be a fun day out for clients, carers and staff as there will be plenty to do. Although the day is designed to be enjoyed there’s also a serious message behind it. This event brings people together and highlights how maintaining physical health is a key part of recovering from mental illness.”

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 will take place from May to September, one in each county, and major displays will be held at the National Eisteddfod and Royal Welsh Show.