Over 10,000 people from across Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield have joined the South West Yorkshire Mental Health NHS Trust as a member.
The Trust – which provides NHS mental health and learning disability services to the people of Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield – is currently applying to become a Foundation Trust, a different type of NHS organisation which is run locally with local people as members. The 10,054 people who have become members of the Trust can have a say in how services are developed and improved and also help combat the stigma that surrounds mental health problems and learning disabilities.
Members of the Trust have been invited to special events, received a regular magazine and have also had the opportunity to vote for representatives on the Members’ Council. The Council will make sure the Trust is accountable to the local community and is operating in ‘shadow form’ until the Trust gains authorisation as a Foundation Trust, which is anticipated later this year. The Members’ Council will then contribute to the long term vision for the Trust and make sure it works to its terms of authorisation.
Chief executive Steven Michael said, "I’m delighted that so many local people have joined our Trust and are taking an interest in the future of mental health and learning disability services in the area. Having over 10,000 public members is a significant milestone for us in our journey towards becoming a Foundation Trust, and it means that, when you include our staff who are also members we now have a total of 12,547 members.
"One in four us will experience a mental health problem in the course of a year so it’s encouraging that local people are taking an interest in issues that could potentially affect us all and are keen to improve their local NHS. I’d like to thank everyone who has joined so far and encourage anyone else interested to sign up as a member."
The Trust has attended a variety of community events to attract members as well as launching a well-received poster campaign that challenges the stigma surrounding mental health problems. It even became the first NHS Trust in the country to launch its own Facebook group to encourage people to find out more and discuss issues they were interested in.
Anybody aged 11 or over from the Yorkshire and Humber area can join the Trust and members can choose how much they want to be involved, from simply receiving information about services through to active involvement in issues that interest them. To find out more about becoming a member, call 01924 327567, email firstname.lastname@example.org or sign up online at www.southwestyorkshire.nhs.uk