Mental health should be a priority as the West Midlands starts its economic recovery post- pandemic, according to a member of the region-wide Citizens’ Panel.
David Caldicot, from Birmingham, is one of 36 panel members representing the diverse make-up of the region and has previously experienced depression.
He sits on the Citizens’ Panel that has been commissioned by the West Midlands Recovery Co-ordination Group (RCG) - a collaboration of senior officials from the region’s local authorities, emergency services and Local Enterprise Partnerships.
Watch David discuss his views on YouTube
The panel has been learning about the impact of coronavirus on communities and will help guide what recovery plans should focus on. The RCG will use the recommendations of the Citizens’ Panel to help inform the region’s political leaders on their post-Covid-19 recovery plans.
The panel have been sharing their experiences, considering evidence on impacts from expert witnesses, and deliberating over challenging trade-offs, before putting forward a set of recommendations to the RCG.
David lives in Shard End and runs a childminding service with his wife. He has told the panel organisers that as mental health is something that affects us all there should be increased access to mental health care in the West Midlands.
Previously David, 55, had received help for depression and believes more should be done to support people with mental health problems. He said: “I think we need to place big part on mental health, in so many ways it’s going to affect people, with job losses and loneliness.
“I think there should be more centres you could just phone up and be seen, to get help straightaway.”
His comments come as Samaritans marks Talk to Us their annual awareness-raising campaign in local communities throughout July, to highlight the services they offer in their communities
This Citizens’ Panel will complement the region’s ongoing economic recovery work, which is being spearheaded by the Economic Impact Group, which brings together business leaders, central government, banks, trade unions and local authorities.
Cllr Brigid Jones, the chair of the Citizens’ Panel steering group and WMCA portfolio holder for inclusive communities, said: “It is fascinating to hear the views and informed opinions of the panel members.
“We have been hearing about their experiences of living through the lockdown and the impact coronavirus has had on their lives.
“Like David, the members of the panel have told us their views on the particular issues and areas of life that matter to them, and what they think should be the focus of recovery plans.”
Deborah Cadman, the chief executive of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), and head of the Recovery Co-ordination Group said: “Our region’s recovery from the many facets of the pandemic will make use of local knowledge and assets of which the Citizens’ Panel is an example.
“The Panel highlights how we are asking our communities and businesses to help us deliver change for the better.”
The programme is being delivered by BritainThinks, an independent insight and strategy agency, and is supported by Engage Britain, which is a charity focused on bringing together people with different views, knowledge and experience to help tackle the biggest challenges facing the country.
WMCA also provides a free structured mental health and wellbeing employer support programme for West Midlands businesses. Find out more at www.wmca.org.uk/thrive