A WELL known actress who has battled depression has become the first ambassador for Home Group’s mental health services.
Denise Welch has become an ambassador for the not-for-profit housing provider after visiting a number of supported housing schemes specialising in mental health recovery.
Denise’s role was officially revealed as she visited the Home Group Mental Health Step Down service in Blackpool, as staff there celebrated one year of helping people who have been discharged from hospital.
She said: “I’ve been very impressed with the service I’ve seen today in Blackpool and enjoyed sharing experiences with the clients.
“I have experienced depression in the past and I was lucky that I had a great family and friends who were able to support me. If I hadn’t had such a support network life would have been much more difficult.
“Services provided by Home Group really do help people who need that support network and I’m delighted to have been invited to become their first Mental Health Ambassador. The role will help me to continue promoting mental health and wellbeing issues and highlight services and issues which make a real difference to people’s lives.”
The Blackpool Step Down service, in Hornby Road, provides a link between hospital and home for people who no longer have a clinical need to remain in hospital but do need extra support before returning home. It has helped 55 people in its first year and is estimated to have saved the taxpayer at least £100,000 in that time.
Rachael Byrne, Home Group executive director for new models of care, said: “We’re delighted that Denise has agreed to become our Ambassador. Denise has a high public profile and she’s already used that to raise awareness of mental health issues.
“By becoming our Ambassador, Denise will learn in greater detail how we help thousands of people each year and run services which complement the work of local NHS Trusts.”
Denise has previously visited a number of Home Group services including Aviary House in Solihull, which provides long term accommodation for those with mental health needs.
Helen Lynch, Lancashire Care NHS Trust service manager, said: “When people are admitted to hospital for mental health reasons they’ve often got to a stage where they might have lost their home or be in arrears.
“This service really helps us manage our bed flow and ensures that once people are ready to leave hospital they can do so without lack of accommodation being an issue.”
Former client Colin Williams, 44, said: “There should be more places like this. No-one likes being in hospital and by being able to come here, I could receive the final bit of support I needed before going back to my own flat. It also saves the NHS money because people no longer block beds which they don’t need.”