About Hafal – Wales’ leading charity for people affected by serious mental illness and their carers

Hafal is a forward-looking, ground-breaking  charity providing services across Wales. We are led by our Members – people who have been directly affected by a mental illness and know what works best in promoting recovery.

Hafal’s goal is to improve people’s lives through the fulfilment of holistic, recovery‐focused, individual Care and Treatment Plans for everyone receiving secondary mental health services. This means that clients identify goals in all life areas – from education and employment to social life and accommodation, and then identify the people who can help them achieve those goals, and chart the steps they need to take to reach them.

As a charity we like to put our money where our mouth is and lead by example. After all, we are a Member-led organisation and we know from experience what works when it comes to recovery from mental illness and providing appropriate support for carers. So our projects aim to establish best practice models which can inform other services.

Many of our Members have had poor experiences as in-patients at mental health hospitals, so after much discussion and consultation we decided to develop our own hospital. Gellinudd Recovery Centre opened in 2017, and in its first year it won GAMIAN’s Pedro Montellano Good Practice Award.

Gellinudd Recovery Centre provides a unique and progressive in-patient service in a state-of-the-art facility. Gellinudd Guests enjoy a number of activities, both at the Centre and in the local community: they have access to a café, an outdoor therapeutic space, a poly tunnel and garden, and a giant interactive entertainment screen; they can also enjoy music and art and craft activities, study for accredited qualifications, take part in outdoor activities… the list goes on!

Gellinudd is groundbreaking in that it employs a team of Peer Mentors who have personal experience of mental illness and bring unique insight and knowledge to providing care and support. The Centre delivers accredited training in peer mentoring which is based on best practice at Gellinudd.

Most importantly, Gellinudd Recovery Centre is run in partnership with the people who use it, and Guests take an active part in planning, evaluating and developing the service.

Another pioneering service is our Mental Health & Money Advice Service which was also launched in 2017. Run in Wales by Hafal (as part of Mental Health UK) and funded by the Lloyds Banking Group, the service is one of the most innovative national services ever set up to support people affected by a mental illness.

The service provides clear, practical advice and support specifically for people experiencing issues with mental health and money. The support comes from a trained advice team and a comprehensive website.

In practice, the service has supported hundreds of people to cope with their financial problems, including debt and benefits issues, and we have already achieved over £1million in gains for our clients. The service proves that targeted support which provides expert advice in a key life area can have a huge impact on a person’s recovery.

Another area of innovation is our Early Intervention Service (EIS). This service gives young people across Wales who are experiencing the initial symptoms of psychotic illness the opportunity to work towards recovery and avoid crisis, as well as plan for the future. A group of EIS clients will be sailing around the Welsh coast in a tall ship this summer as part of a programme of activities to provide them with skills and expand their horizons – an example of how we are ambitious and creative in the activities we provide for clients.

Of course, as well as delivering services directly to people with a mental illness and their carers we also campaign vigorously to improve the lives of everyone in Wales affected by mental illness.

With our partners Mind Cymru we deliver the Time to Change Wales anti-stigma campaign. Our research has shown that sharing lived experiences and life stories of those who have experienced mental health problems leads to transformational change in attitudes and a reduction in stigma and discrimination. Our Champions – people with lived experience of mental illness – have presented at schools and businesses throughout Wales in order to change public attitudes to mental illness.

Hafal also campaigns on a number of issues facing our Members. Current campaigns include “Jo’s Blog”, a campaign for an improved Mental Health Act and better treatment of people with a mental illness by the Criminal Justice System; “Hafal’s Promise”, a campaign to combat loneliness and isolation; and “Deeds Not Words”, which addresses the mental health issues facing women in Wales.

We have achieved extraordinary things though our campaigning: for example, we successfully campaigned for a new Welsh mental health law (the Mental Health [Wales] Measure 2010) which gives all secondary mental health service users the right to a comprehensive care and treatment plan. As a Member-led charity we have the advantage of speaking from experience, and our voice continues to get even louder.

For more information on Hafal’s work please visit www.hafal.org

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