Enduring mental illness needs to be part of the conversation

I’m so honoured and flattered that as Mental Health Awareness Week approaches, our lovely PR consultant Becky, has offered to feature me and my charity Hammersley Homes on her blog. Thank you!


Hammersley Homes is a charity that aims to provide long-term supported housing for life, for adults who suffer from enduring mental illness and struggle to live independently. I set up this charity a couple of years ago. I’d been thinking about doing something like this for years, but never had the time. Now I’m retired, and find I’m working harder than I ever did when I had a day job! It’s a huge challenge, and actually I didn’t really have any idea how huge a challenge it would be – I wonder whether I’d have dived into this, had I known! We now have a Board of 7 wonderful, passionate and enthusiastic Trustees, supported by a team of about 25 terrific volunteers, and together we are learning fast and making great progress, but we still have a way to go …


I’ve lived with mental illness in my family for as long as I can remember. My younger sibling has been a sufferer for over 45 years, and the inadequacy of care and support that’s been available to her has always struck me as being staggeringly unfair. Other illnesses get much better care and treatment, but mental illnesses get left behind. I’ve often wondered why this is – perhaps because it’s too much trouble? Too expensive? Too challenging? Not enough resources? Not enough trained staff to manage the vast numbers of vulnerable adults who fall within this group? A mixture of all this?


It’s so illogical. Too many crimes are committed as a result of psychosis, and to many mentally ill people end up in prison, effectively being punished for having an illness. It’s cruel in the extreme. The cost to the public purse of not providing adequate care and support is staggering. Were these vulnerable people better supported and cared for, better housed to keep them safe, they could more easily be kept away from the criminal justice system and out of hospital, resulting in potentially vast savings to the public purse. A little compassion, kindness and friendship can go a long way. We need to eradicate the stigma and feel some empathy and sympathy for these unfortunate people who, through no fault of their own, suffer from a life-changing debilitating illness. When it’s someone you love, it’s truly heart-breaking. The loneliness and chaos with which they so often live, is beyond sad to see.


We are desperate to see change, to provide the long term support that will enrich their lives and provide them with companionship and a sense of purpose and fun that we all need and deserve. After all, we are all just people, trying to find our way through this life in the best and most rewarding way that we can. And one of the most rewarding things we can do, is to help those less fortunate that us.


We are using Mental Health Awareness Week to do all we can to raise awareness of these issues, raise the profile of our charity and to raise funds to help us achieve our aims. I hope you will join us!


To find out more about Hammersley Homes and how you can support them during mental health awareness week visit www.hammersleyhomes.org

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