Campaigner, Ann Robinson who fought to save Cambridge’s mental health drop-in centre, Lifeworks with other service users, has received a commendation from the government for her work.
Ann, who claims the Tenison Road centre “saved her life on more than one occasion” received an award from Public Health Minister, Jane Ellison.
She was nominated for the award by Cambridge MP Julian Huppert who backed the campaigners, raising the issue in Parliament and with Minister of Care, Norman Lamb.
Cambridgeshire County Councillor Kilian Bourke, Chair of the Adult Wellbeing and Health Scrutiny Committee was also nominated by Julian receiving an award for his work on mental health.
Ann said: “I was overwhelmed to be put forward for this award by Julian in the first place and I thank Julian very much for thinking of me. I am delighted to receive it. It’s an honour but also it reflects the importance of mental health support services and the need for successive governments to do more to safeguard them.
“The campaign to save Lifeworks was very important to all of us as service users. We had our voices taken away and by organising a sit-in and achieving five more years for Lifeworks we got our voices back.
“I have been attending Lifeworks for five years. I was very ill when I joined and have to say looking back it saved my life on more than one occasion. I am now in a much better place, looking forward instead of back. I have found my voice via the campaign and will continue to speak out for those who cannot speak out for themselves in mental health.“
Ann has become a volunteer with Health Watch England on its Enter and View programme visiting care facilities and hospitals to speak to staff, carers, patients and visitors and giving feedback on the services.
She is also a volunteer for mental health on the Safeguarding Adults Board and the safeguarding network generally.
Julian said: “I was delighted to nominate Ann and Kilian for these awards which are so well-deserved for all the work they have done.
“Ann worked tirelessly to save Lifeworks because she knew first-hand how vital this centre and other services are for people struggling with mental health issues. Her actions and those of the other campaigners have raised the profile of mental health not only locally but with the government as well.
“Mental health services both in Cambridgeshire and nationally have been underfunded for years. We have achieved parity of esteem between mental and physical health now so that is a start; but we need to invest more in mental health and that’s why I launched my petition calling for an extra £500 million a year. And we still have a long way to go to end the discrimination that exists in society generally so that those with mental health problems can have the confidence to seek the help they need.”
Ann is pictured receiving her award from Julian.