Praise for Wrexham volunteers supporting people in crisis

Volunteers based at Wrexham’s Emergency Department have helped hundreds of people experiencing mental health issues as part of a major new initiative.

Local Assembly Member, Lesley Griffiths recently visited the Wrexham Maelor Hospital to meet with the volunteers and hear more about the ‘I CAN’ Centres, part of Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board’s all-encompassing initiative to end the stigma associated with mental health.

The I CAN campaign, which is backed by Welsh Government funding, intends to improve mental health and wellbeing services across North Wales.  A range of services ultimately aim to provide earlier support for people experiencing mental health difficulties, empower people to take control of managing their mental health and encourage open conversations about the subject.

One aspect of the campaign are the three I CAN Centres that have been set up at the 3 main hospitals across North Wales – Wrexham Maelor Hospital, Ysbyty Glan Clwyd and Ysbyty Gwynedd.  The volunteers are on-hand in Wrexham to support people who arrive at an Emergency Department between the hours of 6pm and 1am, but do not require medical treatment or admission to a mental health facility.

Since its inception at the beginning of the year, the volunteers, who are available 7 days a week, have helped hundreds of people in the Wrexham area.  All the I CAN volunteers have received specialist training and often have personal experience or a special reason for dedicating their time to support others in their hour of need.

The I CAN Centres are just one element of the Health Board’s overall campaign.  Another recent initiative is to offer free mental health awareness training to businesses, such as barbers or hairdressers, where open conversations are likely to take place naturally.

Lesley Griffiths AM said: “I am grateful to the volunteers for their time and it was fascinating to hear more about their work and experiences.”

“In a relatively short space of time, it’s clear the I CAN Centre in Wrexham has had a positive impact.  The one to one support sessions have no timeframe and this more relaxed, informal environment has had great success in encouraging people to open up and share their concerns.”

“Whatever the reason for someone being in crisis, encouraging open conversations can help challenge the negative attitudes and be the first step towards recovery.”

“In a week where we marked World Suicide Prevention Day, there’s no doubt the work undertaken by the I CAN volunteers is vitally important and if anyone is struggling or wishes to find out more, please visit the I CAN website.”