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'We want to share lived mental health experience with those in power': Parliament aim for innovative conference

PUBLISHED: 17:03 13 June 2019 | UPDATED: 17:03 13 June 2019

The speakers at the Lowestoft Conference 2019. Picture: Tod Sullivan

The speakers at the Lowestoft Conference 2019. Picture: Tod Sullivan

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Organisers have hailed the success of a series of events that have shed light on a wide range of important issues.

The speakers and special guests at the Beccles community meeting and conference 2019. Picture: Tod SullivanThe speakers and special guests at the Beccles community meeting and conference 2019. Picture: Tod Sullivan

High-profile campaigners shared their stories at mental health conferences across Norfolk and Suffolk last week.

Organised by Feedback Mental Health and Tod Sullivan - Lowestoft's mental health ambassador - the #accessresilience conferences gave voice to lived experience of mental health.

And now, hopes are high that the conference will be delivered to parliament in the future - as Mr Sullivan is speaking with MPs about a similar conference-style meeting in London.

With inspirational talks from national and local campaigners, their own stories were shared to more than 300 people at conferences in Beccles, Attleborough,
Norwich and Lowestoft last week

The speakers at the Lowestoft Conference 2019. Picture: Tod SullivanThe speakers at the Lowestoft Conference 2019. Picture: Tod Sullivan

As well as Mr Sullivan, speakers included Dan Biddle - a survivor of the 7/7 terror attacks in London; public speaker and campaigner Josh Connolly, who grew up the child of an alcoholic; Katherine Gilmartin, who talked about her experiences with mental health and how she uses art to support herself and others; Yasmin Choudhury, a campaigner and social entrepreneur who is a proud British Muslim feminist Sue Willgoss, from Lowestoft, who launched #LiftLoudForDanny - raising thousands of pounds and awareness of suicide, mental health, and autism; Ivan Humble, from Lowestoft, who campaigns across Europe tackling radicalisation and the misrepresentation of a variety of faiths and rapper Vincent Harrison AKA Cenzy.

Speaking during the Lowestoft conference Mr Biddle said "it is great for us to come here and speak.

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"The work Tod is doing is invaluable and hopefully we can take this to the national platform."

Afterwards, Mr Sullivan said: "Its been brilliant.

"Last year we had 200 people in one room for a day's conference in Lowestoft.

"This year we have more than 300 people attending across a series of mental health events - it was amazing to share the stage with some great people, hearing from Dan, Josh, Yasmin and all these fantastic speakers.

"Our next step is we want to be shedding the light on parliament - we want to share lived mental health experience with those in power.

"The aim is to do this conference to MPs in London, to show them these experiences."

After the Lowestoft Conference on Saturday, Yasmin Choudhury tweeted: "Very proud to have addressed the Lowestoft mental health conference #accessresilience talking about complex ptsd, trauma, loss, bereavement, domestic abuse, homelessness."

The Great Yarmouth and Waveney VASP Mental Health Network is today holding an event at Lowestoft Town FC headquarters in Love Road from 10am to 2pm, with organisations networking and sharing best practice to improve the delivery of mental health services across the area.

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