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Mayor praises efforts of mental health café during celebrations

Posted on the 24th May 2016

The Mayor of Blackpool praised the efforts of a charity community café in tackling mental health stigma during its one year celebrations.

Cllr. Kath Rowson, Mayor of Blackpool, joined representatives from Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust, Blackpool College and national mental health charity Richmond Fellowship to celebrate the one year anniversary of Sparky’s Café at The Harbour hospital in Blackpool.

Cllr. Rowson said:

“I’ve heard excellent things about Sparky’s over the past year and I’m delighted to join in with your celebrations.

“Sparky’s is not just a café, it does so much more. You challenge the stigma of mental health problems and that’s something that’s so badly needed these days.

“I’m delighted that we have such a successful partnership in Blackpool and I look forward to the next twenty years of Sparky’s.”

Sparky’s café is a social enterprise project from national mental health charity Richmond Fellowship, part of Recovery Focus, and Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust.

Sparky’s provides volunteering and employment opportunities for people living with mental health or substance use problems as well as training and support.

Derek Caren, chief executive of Recovery Focus, said:

“In the last 18 months Sparky’s has gone from just an idea to an award winning social enterprise that has made a real difference to the lives of the people working and volunteering here.

“It’s about structure, shape and opportunity and the people we’ve supported through this fantastic enterprise have  made great progress along their recovery journey and have made inroads into the world of work. I’m very proud of everything Sparky’s has achieved.”

Sheila Kasaven, Senior Matron at The Harbour part of Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust said:

“Sparky’s café is a great asset to have at The Harbour and has become well known by staff, service users and the local community as a place to relax, meet friends, have meetings or simply enjoy the delicious refreshments!

The apprenticeship programmes offer so much in the way of aiding our service user’s on their recovery journey from a mental health illness; from learning valuable employment skills to building confidence and self-esteem. Indeed, we have recruited three people who completed their apprenticeships at Sparky’s and they now work at The Harbour.

 The café also helps to breakdown barriers and reduce the stigma around mental health by encouraging conversations and increasing awareness and understanding about mental ill-health. We are so proud to be working with Richmond Fellowship on this project and are delighted to be part of such a fantastic and innovative initiative.”

Jannette Garwood began her apprenticeship with Sparky’s after being referred from Richmond Fellowship’s employment service in Blackpool. She has now completed her apprenticeship with an NVQ in hospitality. She said:

“18 months ago I was in a bad place; I didn’t see a point and tried to end my life. I ended up in a hospital like this and was first introduced to Richmond Fellowship’s employment service.

“From that day it gave me hope, hope that I never thought I’d have. My time at Sparky’s has been a journey for me where I’ve made progression and found a value in my life. For the first time in my life I feel like I’ve achieved something, and if it wasn’t for Richmond Fellowship or Sparky’s this wouldn’t have been possible.”

Sparky’s café is situated at The Harbour, Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust’s mental health inpatient hospital in Blackpool and is open to members of the public. For more information about Sparky’s as well as their menu, visit: www.richmondfellowship.org.uk. For more information about The Harbour please visit www.lancashirecare.nhs.uk/TheHarbour.