Welsh Assembly Minister welcomed at Smile project

08 October 2015

Vale of Glamorgan AM Jane Hutt met with members of Smile recently to find out how the group has changed the lives of people in Barry who experience mental health issues.

Members of Smile group with Jane Hutt AM

Smile is a peer support group for individuals who experience mental health issues including depression, stress and social loneliness and for their carers.

People’s Health Trust has invested £16,500 in the project using money raised by HealthControl through The Health Lottery.

The group was established two years ago as a result of community engagement exercise. It was set up to bridge a gap in services for those who have mental health issues but may not be able to access statutory health services.

Members of the group spoke to Jane Hutt AM, Welsh Government Minister for Finance, and People's Health Trust Trustee for Wales, Dr Eva Elliott, about the social, emotional and practical support that Smile offers. They also met some of the volunteers who are all previous members.

Smile is currently supported by mental health charity Gofal but the aim is to support local members to run the project and make it self-sufficient.

Janet Rees, a Smile group member, said: “Smile has changed my life completely, the care and support from the members has made me feel like life is worth living again, it has stopped the isolation and given me confidence.

“Knowing you are not alone in suffering mental health issues brings on trust and helps rid the stigma.”

Abbie Harvey, who also attends Smile, said: “Smile gives me motivation to wake up in the morning.

“Although I've recently joined the group I love going and look forward to every session."

Jane Hutt AM said: “It was great to visit Smile and see how the project is trying to not only improve people’s mental health but also reintegrate members into the local community through social activities.

“Projects like this are an important part of the community.”

Dr Eva Elliott, People's Health Trust Trustee for Wales, said: "Both the members and the volunteers at Smile were great. Many of them talked about things they could do now which they would not have believed possible in the past.

"It was fantastic to hear them talk so strongly about how their individual lives have been changed through the strength of the group."

See more photos from the visit here.

Read more news from the Trust here.

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