I joined a march recently – I’d done this once before, a couple of months ago and for the same cause, but that was in Norwich – this time it was Lynn.
I chatted to another lady who was a “first-timer” and had come with younger members of her family, from Hunstanton. There were participants of all ages, children, a lot of young adults and older people up to senior citizens like myself. What we all had in common was a deep concern about the way in which funding for mental health has been drastically eroded over the last few years, to the extent that Lynn’s only remaining NHS beds at the Fermoy Unit are now at risk. (It seems there are plenty of private centres, if you can afford to pay hundreds of pounds for treatment.) The situation in Norfolk is dire; NHS patients are already being sent all over the country for residential treatment.
But it’s not only beds. Those in need of treatment are already having to wait months for it, and in some cases for such a long time that it comes too late. A friend of mine lost his son to suicide because he was only admitted when it was too late to help him. Several of those walking shared their own experiences relating to friends and family, and the constant theme was the lack of support. One young participant spoke of her younger brother, whose monthly treatment takes place in London – and of course the family has to pay his train fare and that of whoever accompanies him.
So thank you to those rather bemused shoppers who were stopped in their tracks by our noisy perambulation around Lynn , and particularly to those who smiled at us and the ladies who clapped. It really helped. The march was ably led by Labour’s Jo Rust and supported by the local unions, but people of all political persuasions were welcome. It cannot be right that West Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group allocates less than eight per cent of its budget to our mental well-being.
Wendy Woo, Fakenham Road, Hillington