Hafal’s spring conference to focus on equal access to learning

Hafal, Wales’ leading charity for people with serious mental illness and their carers, will this week hold a conference in Llandrindod Wells entitled: “We Can Do It! Ensuring equal access to learning for people with a serious mental illness”.

“We Can Do It!” will bring together service users, policy-makers, commissioners and providers of mental health services to explore ways of working together to ensure that people with a serious mental illness enjoy equal access to the education and training opportunities available to other members of society.

Jane Hutt AM, Minister for Children, Education, Lifelong Learning and Skills will attend the conference to provide the context of Assembly policy.

Kate Parrish and Alison Manson, LIAISE Facilitation and Training Consultants from Lilly UK have agreed to guide discussion during the day and a number of Key Participants will help shape the debate. There will be a whole group debate on key issues in the morning; during the afternoon a range of workshops will generate ideas to assist Hafal in formulating practical solutions in the final plenary.

The format of the day will be inclusive and informal. Solution-focused workshops will cover the following issues:

• Ways to raise awareness and understanding of mental illness among education Professionals

• The duties underpinning equality of access to learning including the DDA

• How to create support systems and flexible arrangements to enable people with serious mental illness to stay in education

• Exploring ways towards independent living and employment – basic skills and vocational training for people with serious mental illness.

Irene Hogan, Principal of Canolfan Dysgu Hafal Learning Centre, said: “Education and training provide people with a serious mental illness with significant opportunities to move forward in their lives and achieve recovery. It is essential that our clients have access to these opportunities and what we will be identifying in our conference are key ways to achieve this.”

Key Participants at the conference will include:

• Phil Chick, Director of Mental Health, National Leadership and Innovation Agency for Healthcare (NLIAH)

• Phillip Lloyd, Operations Manager, Ufi (University for Industry) Cymru

• Chris Eastwood, Hafal Member with experience of bipolar disorder

• Mark Boulter, GP and Member of the Assembly Government’s NSF Implementation Advisory Group

• Stuart Atherton, Solicitor & Partner in law firm Peter Lynn & Partners, and expert in employment law and disability discrimination

• Dr Anne Fothergill, Principal Lecturer, Mental Health Research, University of Glamorgan

• Sonja Hookway, Mental Health Coordinator, Swansea University

• Pamela Roberts, Regional Director, Basic Skills Cymru

• Sue Saunders, Curriculum Development Officer, OCN (Open College Network) Wales

• Tilly Steed, Team Leader Post Education, Careers Wales

• Kate Parrish and Alison Manson, LIAISE Facilitation and Training Consultants from Lilly UK