Mental health cafe scoops NHS award

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A charity run café which aims to tackle mental health stigma in Blackpool has won a prestigious NHS award barely ten months since its doors opened.

Sparky’s, the pioneering social café run by Richmond Fellowship, the national charity making mental health recovery reality, took top prize for the NHS in the North West Excellence in Supply Awards 2015.

The award comes thanks to Sparky’s work in tackling mental health stigma and providing opportunities for people living with mental health problems to gain the confidence and skills to return to work through volunteering and apprenticeships.

Joe Redmond, managing director for Richmond Fellowship (north), praised the work of Sparky’s staff and volunteers in helping secure the award.

He said: “We’re very proud to have won this award as recognition of the excellent work all our Sparky’s staff and volunteers do to tackle mental health stigma and make Sparky’s a fantastic place to be.

“In the short time we’ve been running Sparky’s we’ve made a huge difference to the lives of the people who’ve volunteered or taken an apprenticeship with us, with some moving on to full time paid positions.”

The café, situated in new NHS mental health hospital The Harbour in Blackpool, provides quality and affordable food and drink as well as information and guidance for people on mental health.

Blackpool resident Lee first came to Sparky’s following treatment for his mental health problems. With a background in the food industry Lee took to his role with Sparky’s with ease and has now moved onto full time employment at a respected local hotel.

He said: “When I first came to Sparky’s I was low on confidence and struggling to move past my mental health problems and the affect this had had on me. From my first day everyone was warm and welcoming. I was never judged and was given the time to gain my confidence back and the freedom to rediscover my love of the kitchen.

“I cannot thank them enough for everything they’ve done. Without Sparky’s I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

For more information on Richmond Fellowship and the work they do to make mental health recovery reality, visit: