Royal recognition for Wigan mental health organisation founder

He has spoken of his pride after receiving a prestigious commendation.
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Kieran Jones, who set up Bridging The Gap, has been thanked for his work during the Covid-19 pandemic in an official letter from the Lord-Lieutenant of Greater Manchester.

The Queen’s representative in the city-region, Sir Warren Smith, spoke of how impressed he was at the length Mr Jones has gone to in order to help residents struggling with poor mental health during more than a year of the pandemic.

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It is the second time in quick succession that Kieran’s efforts have been recognised after he was named Community Hero at the recent Our Town Awards organised by Wigan Council, and he said he was slightly overwhelmed by the attention Bridging The Gap is getting.

Kieran, from Bamfurlong, said: “It’s humbling. I was shocked to receive the letter, it was something I didn’t expect.

“When something like that comes through your door, with him being the Queen’s representative, it’s a big deal.

“The main thing is that firstly it’s recognition for Bridging The Gap. It’s also acknowledgement on a Greater Manchester level, not just within our borough. It’s mind-blowing.

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“I’m still a bit speechless from it all. It feels like everything is just falling into place. We’re getting recognised more and I do think it’s having a positive impact on the community.”

In his letter Sir Warren said he was writing to Kieran to thank him for what he has achieved during the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

He said there had been “heart-warming stories” of people contributing to their local areas during the pandemic and then told Kieran: “You have been selflessly at the heart of that effort and have rightly been brought to my attention.”

The letter said: “What you have achieved helping local people struggling with poor mental health by setting up a Facebook support group called Bridging Gap and providing individual support by checking on people by telephone and text has made a tremendous difference to the recovery in Greater Manchester.

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"The moments when the United Kingdom came together to applaud its care and essential workers will be remembered as an expression of our national spirit but your contribution will not be forgotten either.”

Kieran says Bridging The Gap remains extremely busy with a high level of demand for its service among Wigan residents.

The organisation is looking to expand further and take on new additions to its team of staff or volunteers.

Kieran said: “We’re getting an influx on the Covid front with people with high anxiety levels because they are being allowed back out. We always expected that increase.

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“People suffering from things like depression perhaps had an excuse not to go out with lockdown but now we’re coming out of it they are struggling.”

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