May 14, 2010

This week, we continued on the campaign trail to encourage people to sign up to our pledge.

First stop on Wednesday was the Briggate, one of the main shopping streets in Leeds, where we were lucky enough to work with some real anti-discrimination heroes.

A strong partnership approach led by Leeds Partnerships NHS Foundation Trust and NHS Leeds with local charities, Leeds Metropolitan University, Leeds City Council and Leeds FC has resulted in some fantastic work across the city and Wednesday's event was no exception. The passion and commitment all the agencies invest in the campaign in Leeds is paying dividends.

PR students and the students' union at Leeds Metropolitan University have been running a 'Big Boys Should Cry' poster campaign to break down the stigma that can prevent young men seeking help, and the campaign's presence at the event alongside a 'Balls to stigma' competition with Leeds FC really helped to grab the attention of young men.

On to Nottingham on ThursOne of the many pledges in Nottinghamday, where Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, The University of Nottingham, its Students' Union and the High Sheriff of Nottinghamshire, no less, all pledged their support. Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust is another organisation that has done huge amounts to tackle discrimination in the local community and set a really high standard.

As ever, in both Leeds and Nottingham, it was the fantastic volunteers who helped out and spoke to the public about their experiences that really got the message across. Talking to Paul in Leeds was a stark reminder of the human cost of stigma - he told of people he had known who had bricks thrown through their windows, someone else who took their life after being harassed, how he himself lost his job. This is what we're here to fight.

And Nottingham's event featured a Living Library where members of the public could 'borrow' a human story. I 'read' Trevor, who was so open and honest about his experience of psychosis and the appearance of his 'shadowman' in such a matter of fact way that I will never forget and wish everyone could experience. We need thousands of people like Paul and Trevor telling their stories in such a positive way - in every public space in England - and elsewhere.

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