Wigan Council inspire hope across the borough

Wigan Council is to launch a four-week drive to encourage open conversations about mental wellbeing in Wigan borough.

The Month of Hope, which is being supported across Greater Manchester, bridges September 10 (World Suicide Prevention Day) and October 10 (World Mental Health Awareness Day).

The local authority has teamed up with the local community to inspire these conversations as well as signposting the variety of support available to those who are struggling with poor mental wellbeing.

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It has planted yellow flowers in Believe Square to raise awareness about suicide prevention and a number of walks have been arranged throughout the month, which are being delivered by the Be Well service as well as the local community to encourage people to meet others and take in the rich heritage of the borough.

L-R: Alison McKenzie-Folan (CEO), Coun Keith Cunliffe (deputy leader), Coun David Molyneux (leader), Coun Yvonne Klieve (Mayor of Wigan borough), Prof Kate Ardern (director of public health in Wigan borough)

Wigan borough Armed Forces HQ has also installed a sign using poppies on its frontage and The Brick will create an inspirational sculpture spelling out the word HOPE made from different materials.

The idea is to use the displays as a visual representation of the support the services can offer residents in the area.

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Leader of Wigan Council David Molyneux said: “In 2020 we launched our Be Kind movement, which encouraged local people to spread kindness across the borough from sending letters to those who are isolated to donating to food banks or checking in on someone who is having a tough time.”

“Everyone has challenges – you won’t always see or know what they are but by being kind, we can show compassion to others.”

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“I think we should extend this to ourselves too. The last 18 months or so have been overwhelming for everyone in different ways. Recognising this and easing the pressure on yourself where possible will go a long way in supporting your own mental wellbeing.”

Throughout the Month of Hope, the local authority is holding a number of Connect 5 training sessions online, which are open to all residents to learn more about how to openly talk about mental health.

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Topics include: understanding the language around mental health, wellbeing and mental illness, become more confident in offering wellbeing advice and support in everyday conversations, understand how to help individuals make lasting changes that have a positive effect on wellbeing and learn about local services and self-help resources that are available.

Coun Molyneux added: “Connect 5 takes the position that we don’t need to be mental health specialists to support those who are experiencing emotional and mental health problems.

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“By normalising mental health conversations, we can encourage people to gain the confidence to reach out for support, whether that’s as simple as a trusting ear, or more specialised intervention.”

Residents are also asked to share their favourite ways to stay mentally well, by using the hashtags #BeKindToYourMind and #MonthOfHope across social media.

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There are two Connect 5 training events taking place in September, for more information click here.

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