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Council asks you to help improve the lives of those living with dementia

More than 30,000 people in West Sussex are Dementia Friends, and West Sussex County Council is encouraging all of its staff and residents to join the programme.

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The focus comes in support of Dementia Action Week, which is running from 20-26 May 2019.

Dementia is rapidly becoming the defining health issue of our time, with the numbers of people living with the condition increasing and no treatment to prevent or cure the underlying diseases. However we believe that life doesn’t end when dementia begins. 

Over the duration of the week, a range of events, such as Memory Cafes and ‘Ask the Expert’ will be taking place across the county, aimed to raise awareness of the matter and share information. 

As part of these events, Human Story Theatre is presenting Connie’s Colander across various West Sussex libraries. A drama intertwining a mother and daughter’s journey with dementia, tickets to the stripped-back, intimate show are free and can be booked via Eventbrite. The drama is crammed with all emotions and lots of laughs, alongside an informal Q&A session, facilitated by the two actors and local dementia specialists.

Amanda Jupp, Cabinet Member for Adults and Health, said:

“Dementia affects each person differently. Therefore it is really important that we understand how to recognise when someone is living with the condition.

“I cannot emphasise the importance of becoming a Dementia Friend enough. None of us are immune to the disease, so it is vital that we help to make a difference and continue to reduce the stigma surrounding it.”  

Around 14,000 people are estimated to have dementia in West Sussex and that figure is expected to reach 18,000 over the next six years.

More advice on dementia, as well as information on the upcoming events, can be found at www.westsussex.gov.uk/daw19.

Health & Wellbeing

‘I’m not ok and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that’ says Crawley Councillor as he opens up about mental health

As part of Mental Health day a Crawley councillor has opened up about his own mental health issues to show local people that it is ok to open up and talk about the issue.

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Liam Ascough is a councillor for Gossops Green in Crawley

Gossops Green Councillor Liam Ascough has written an open letter to his colleagues at the council to raise awareness of mental health issues.

Addressing directly the Council Leader and the Chief Executive, Liam writes:

“Dear Peter and Natalie,

After watching the ‘Every mind Matters’ TV advert, supported by the Duke and Duchesses of Cambridge and Sussex, I felt that I had write this open letter of apology but also to help continue the conversation on mental health issues. 

I want to apologise to the both of you, members of staff, fellow members of the council but most importantly to the residents of Gossops Green and North East Broadfield because it’s ok not to be ok and I should have said something a long time ago. 

I have suffered bouts of depression since 2015 but I put that all on hold when my mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in October 2017. This happened in the same week I was unceremoniously let go as a Conservative Parliamentary candidate, finished with the partner I thought I’d married and buried a great friend of mine who had died of cancer. October 2017 wasn’t my best month!! 

When I stood as a Parliamentary candidate in 2015, I was on top of the world. I was doing what I’d wanted to do since I was 14 (yes I know, I’m a geek). It was such a full on campaign and I felt I was at the centre of it. After that though, it felt like I’d been dropped like a hot potato. Like I’d been on X Factor one minute and then you were nobody. The Party wasn’t interested in you anymore and suddenly you go from being a somebody to be a nobody again. 

I carried on as if nothing was wrong, although inside I felt deeply depressed and used. Then October 2017 happened and it all got a lot worse. 

Sadly I lost my best friend in my mother on January 4th this year after a monumental battle with cancer. She put up such a great fight but not a day will go by that I don’t miss my mother. Watching her in so much pain, was beyond heartbreaking. 

I put a brave face on, as I always do and tried to get on with things. Sometimes not so well though, as I remember a very kind family in Gossops Green took me into their house whilst canvassing, after I started to cry. I should have known at that point that I wasn’t really coping. 

It wasn’t until my birthday in July that it finally all hit me. Again, I tried to put a brave face on and project the image that everything was ok. The thing is, I’M NOT OK!

There is absolutely nothing wrong with that either. I should have said it a long time ago! 

I am sorry for the meetings that I’ve missed and the emails that I haven’t replied to!! I should have said something before. I just couldn’t admit it to myself let alone anyone else! 

The thing is, now that I’ve admitted that I’m not ok, I can finally start to get help and to get back on track.

That’s why I wanted to write this open letter. To say sorry for letting people down. To explain what’s been going on and to be honest about it. Probably most importantly, to let others know that’s it’s ok, to not be ok. I needed to be honest with myself.

The help I received from St Catherine’s Hospice has been invaluable! I am also incredibly blessed to have an amazing network or friends who are my family. 

I am getting through this and I will recover.

Some will think I’m just feeling sorry for myself and that I should ‘man up’. To be fair that’s something I would have said before. Regardless I still think it is ok to say that I’m not ok. I encourage anyone who isn’t feeling ok, to talk about it.

You are not alone and don’t have to ‘man up’ so to speak.”

If you would like more information and help on any issues to do with mental health you can find out more at:

https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/

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