At the recent Social Inclusion Network meeting, Constable Jim Scotson, the Hate Crime Officer for Merseyside Police based St. Helens, described the work of the Hate Crimes Unit, which is locally known as the Ã¢â‚¬ËœSigma' unit. <--break->The title of Sigma was carefully chosen. Sigma is a letter from the Greek alphabet and symbolises the work of the unit in recognizing and protecting all vulnerable members of our society whilst seeking to continuously improve the service the police provide to victims.
If you asked me to tell you what I got for Christmas last year; I wouldn't have a clue. Having said that; I can remember the day I was first sectioned fairly clearly, and that was nearly 20 years ago. I was naked; talking to a light bulb; believing that I would be beamed up too heaven at any moment. My father, my sister, my sister's husband and his friend all witnessed this breakdown. I was told later that I had been acting weird for weeks. I had lost a lot of weight very rapidly; I was not sleeping, and I would continually go missing.
In this sometimes chaotic, fast moving world we all live in, I hear so many times from people, many of who I mix with, that 1in 4 people suffer sometime in their lives with mental health problems. I am 57 year old woman and just one of the many women that have mental health problems. I live independently alone, not necessarily lonely. My home is a flat within a building of five flats. My neighbours see me as I see them: as a friend, I can talk and listen, chat and laugh, help one another in any way which we need to.
I first came out 28 years ago. My coming out promotional message was that I was happy, sane and well. I was a happy, sane and well lesbian. The coming out process was remarkably simple and painless but it was the era of Greenham Common and second wave feminism. Three years ago I had to work out a new coming out strategy to accompany the onset of what was to become a severe mental illness.
My first campaign was to do with a rehabilitation training centre called Wiseworks in Harrow near where I live. I myself spent one and a half years there when I was recovering. I had become unwell and there was not a single penny coming in. I was used to being in a business world and being very successful, then all of a sudden I had no income, it was devastating. The first week I went to rehabilitation training, I was offered three pounds at the end of the week for my work. Those three pounds for me meant three thousand pounds - it was just that feeling that I was taking something home.