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Crawley Southgate Councillor and former Mayor dies



Southgate Councillor Raj Sharma passed away yesterday it has been announced.

Raj was Mayor of Crawley in 2016/17 and 2019/20 and represented Southgate as a ward member since 2014.

A statement from Crawley Council said:

“He will be sorely missed by staff, members and the Crawley communities in which he was passionately involved in. He was very proud of what he achieved and was able to raise for his charities during his two years as Mayor of Crawley. “

Raj was born in Delhi, India, in 1952. His love of youth and community work began in 1976.

He continued this when he moved to Crawley in 1992 at Crawley Boys Club/Crawley Youth Centre until 2020. 

A minute’s silence will be observed at the next Full Council meeting on Wednesday 24 February.

The council added:

“Our thoughts are with Raj’s wife, Bhavna, his family and friends.”

Funeral details will be shared when known and the Crawley flag will fly at half-mast on the day of the funeral.

Crawley Council Leader Peter Lamb said:

“Raj Sharma was one of the kindest, most generous men I’ve ever known. His long history of service to Crawley’s stretches back far beyond his time on the council, helping generations of local children to grow and find confidence through his years as a youth worker and playing a leading role in many of the town’s community groups. He will forever be remembered as Crawley’s first Hindu Mayor and someone totally committed to our town. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”


New mental health service launched to support Sussex health and care staff



A new mental health service has launched this week for health and care staff across Sussex who are supporting our local communities during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Staff in Mind is a confidential NHS service for health and care staff who may be experiencing emotional or psychological difficulties. It has been developed by Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust on behalf of Sussex Health and Care Partnership, an alliance that brings together all the NHS organisations and local councils that look after public health and social care across the county. The service is also available for staff employed by Sussex Partnership who work within Hampshire Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).

Funded by NHS England and Improvement, the service offers an independent, confidential and rapid mental wellbeing assessment. It also provides priority access to treatment for people who – for whatever reason – may be less likely to seek help or who may prefer not to access the occupational health and wellbeing support that is available where they work.

Staff are being invited to complete an online self-assessment at to measure how they are feeling. They will be offered a more detailed follow-up assessment with a mental health practitioner, access to psychological treatment if they need it and an agreed follow-up to check on progress.

Psychologist and clinical director of Staff in Mind, Dr Juliet Couche, said:

“Health and care staff are consistently going above and beyond whilst caring for patients during Covid-19. They are working under huge, sustained pressure and are doing an incredible job. But they are not superheroes, they are human.

“In order to help staff continue caring for the local communities we serve, we need to look after their mental health and wellbeing. An important part of this is encouraging them to seek psychological and emotional support when they need it. Staff in Mind is for every health and care staff member across Sussex, from Intensive Care Unit nurse to hospital porter.”

The psychological impact of Covid-19 is demonstrated by data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) which identified almost one in five adults (19.2%) were likely to be experiencing some form of depression during Covid-19, almost double the rate before the pandemic.

Research evidence points to the risk of health care workers experiencing diagnosable symptoms of traumatic stress in the months ahead. A recently published survey by King’s College London that looked at staff working in nine intensive care units in England found nearly half reported symptoms of severe anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder or problem drinking during the first wave of Covid-19.

A recent survey of 900 health and care staff across Sussex found that most (over 60%) have found their work both highly stressful and tiring over the last 6 months, and a third of this group (20% overall) reported feeling very stressed and tired.

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