More help for people in Cornwall recovering from mental ill health

People in Cornwall recovering from mental ill health – of which there are 7,800 in the county – will have a new facility to use from this week with the opening of a new training centre jointly funded by Objective One and the South West Regional Development Agency.

Pentreath Industries, based at Bugle near St Austell, has officially opened The Old Blunging House, an old winding house which has been converted into a modern training suite at Pentreath’s existing headquarters.

The opening coincided with World Mental Health Day on October 10, a global event organised by the World Health Organisation to decrease the stigma of mental illness and improve the quality and availability of mental health services around the world.

Pentreath Industries, a registered charity, helps around 650 people in Cornwall a year to recover from mental ill health – which affects around one in six people – by providing a variety of work experience, training and employment opportunities.

The Old Blunging House will allow Pentreath to help an estimated 125 additional people over the next three years, and will also free up valuable space at the charity’s headquarters next door.

The redundant building, which is believed to be more than 100 years old, and the surrounding land, were donated to Pentreath by china clay company Imerys Minerals Ltd.

The South West of England Regional Development Agency contributed £16,328 towards the £36,000 renovation costs, with an identical sum coming from the European Regional Development Fund under Objective One.

Penny Robertson, chief executive of Pentreath Industries, said: "The Old Blunging House will make a huge difference to the amount of training we can offer and the number of people we can help.

"We needed more space to enable us to run short courses because they are very good at improving people’s confidence and self-esteem in a relatively quick time, which is very important.

"Once you’ve experienced mental illness it’s important that you can see things improving quickly, and that’s what these short courses can achieve.

"Much of what we do relates to training because mental illness affects many people in their formative years so they can miss out on academic qualifications. We help fill that gap by providing qualifications that employers want and by arranging work experience. We have 120 people out on work placement with Cornish companies at present, and the response from employers has been way above anything you would expect.

"By having a dedicated training centre in The Old Blunging House we can provide a high quality environment which respects the individual and makes them feel valued, and delivers the focused training courses they want. We’ve also grown very quickly so it means we can free up some space elsewhere.

The opening ceremony was performed by John Mahoney, head of mental health at the Department of Health, who has described Pentreath’s work as “fantastic”. He said his department was looking at how it could be used as a model nationwide.

He said: "I think Pentreath can really teach the rest of the country a tremendous amount about the huge value in getting people recovering from the effects of mental ill health into some form of meaningful work.

"Mental illness can cause a catastrophic loss of confidence and self esteem, so the benefits of work are enormous in reversing that process and leading to the recovery of social roles. Pentreath are way out in front in delivering this approach.

Trainee Kate Gilyead said: "Pentreath is probably the most positive thing that I have been offered as a person with a mental illness. I have been attending for six months and it has made a great difference to me.

"Because of my illness and because of peoples' attitude to my illness, I had lost all confidence in my ability to work and interact socially. It is wonderful to be treated with respect and understanding by people who ‘know’, and to be able to interact with both staff and other clients as an individual. It is also very important to me to be making a useful contribution.

"Pentreath is providing me with the opportunity to find out what strengths I have and to develop them within a safe environment. It also enables me to recognise my limitations and to seek and experiment with healthy strategies for coping with them. This is helping me to put myself and my illness into perspective, which is helping to build my confidence, enabling me to function more efficiently, and hopefully improving my prospects.

Stephen Bohane, Cornwall area manager for the South West of England Regional Development Agency, said: "Pentreath Industries is making a huge difference to the lives of hundreds of people from all walks of life in Cornwall.

"They are also helping to tackle the stigma of mental ill health. Two thirds of people with a mental health problem experience some form of discrimination, and that has got to change. The Old Blunging House will help achieve that change in Cornwall while creating new opportunities for hundreds of people.

Objective One programme director Bill Bawden said: "If you’ve never heard of Pentreath Industries, make it your business to find out more about them. What they are doing to help people in Cornwall recovering from the effects of mental ill health is quite astounding, and we have been delighted to support them through the Objective One Programme."

The opening of The Old Blunging House coincides with the opening of Lyonesse Trading Places, another Pentreath building in Penzance which is home to four social firms. These are market-led, wage-paying businesses staffed by people who are at a disadvantage in the labour market.

The four businesses are:

Cornish World, a quarterly glossy A4 magazine aimed at lovers of Cornwall at home and abroad. See www.cornishworld.org.

Pedals, a cycle hire and bicycle renovation business on Penzance quayside. See www.pedalsbikes.co.uk.

Neat Document Management, a company specialising in digitising documents. See www.neatdocuhand.co.uk

Greenscapes, a landscape garden makeover business.


Editors notes:

Jason Clark
Communications Manager
Objective One Partnership Office
Castle House
Pydar Street
Truro TR1 2UD
Tel:01872 241379
Fax:01872 241388