Sandwell’s mental health star shines on



A Sandwell woman honoured by West Midlands Combined Authority for outstanding work in mental health said winning the award has inspired her to help others facing similar challenges.

Zoe Barwood was nominated by her daughter Jodie but was unable to attend the Thrive Mental Health Commission Awards event hosted by broadcaster Adrian Goldberg.

As a result of being involved in the awards, Zoe is now considering joining the Citizens Jury, a group of mental health lived experience experts, formed to help create the Thrive West Midlands Action Plan, and now developing into a co-operative supporting the programme delivery.

Sandwell’s mental health star shines on

(l-r) Jodie Atkins nominated mum Zoe Barwood as a Thrive Mental Health Commission Star, with the award presented by Sandwell Council's cabinet member for wellbeing Cllr Ann Shackleton.

Sandwell Council’s cabinet member for wellbeing Cllr Ann Shackleton visited Zoe and 20-year-old Jodie at home in Blackheath to make the presentation on behalf of Thrive West Midlands.

Jodie spotted news of the awards on Sandwell Council’s website and immediately thought of her mum, who acts as her full-time carer and advocate.

Zoe said she was delighted to receive the award – and that Jodie was always finding ways to show her appreciation.

She said: “We’ve reached a point now where we know how to deal with situations better – but that has been a long painful process. 

“What I would like to see is access to support for carers when they really need it - and if I can use this award to help make that happen through the Thrive programme then I’ll be delighted.”

Thrive West Midlands implementation director Sean Russell said Zoe would make a valuable contribution.

He said:  “Zoe’s story is exactly what these awards are about – a shining example of the amazing work going on in homes in practically every street.

“We want to make the most of the experience she can share and the knowledge she and others like her can use to inform improvements.”

Sandwell Council’s cabinet member for wellbeing Cllr Ann Shackleton visited Zoe and 20-year-old Jodie at home in Blackheath to make the presentation on behalf of Thrive West Midlands.

Jodie spotted news of the awards on Sandwell Council’s website and immediately thought of her mum, who acts as her full-time carer and advocate.

Zoe said she was delighted to receive the award – and that Jodie was always finding ways to show her appreciation.

She said: “We’ve reached a point now where we know how to deal with situations better – but that has been a long painful process. 

“What I would like to see is access to support for carers when they really need it - and if I can use this award to help make that happen through the Thrive programme then I’ll be delighted.”

Thrive West Midlands implementation director Sean Russell said Zoe would make a valuable contribution.

He said:  “Zoe’s story is exactly what these awards are about – a shining example of the amazing work going on in homes in practically every street.

“We want to make the most of the experience she can share and the knowledge she and others like her can use to inform improvements.”

Cllr Shackleton said Zoe, who also has three other children – seven-year-old Annie-May, Keri, 15, and Jake, 18, as well as a part-time job as a dinner lady at Blackheath Primary School - was a true inspiration.

She said: “It really makes you stop and think about what so many people have to deal with every day – and brings into focus one of the Thrive programme’s main aims – improving support for carers.”

The inaugural Thrive Mental Health Commission Awards were staged by the WMCA to celebrate outstanding work in the field of mental health and to promote positive attitudes.

It was a chance to mark achievements during the first year of the Thrive West Midlands programme, launched last January, to drive better mental health and wellbeing across the region.

Nominations were invited from across the whole WMCA region and a Mental Health Star was chosen from each area.

People could nominate anyone they felt had made a real difference to improving mental health – either their own or in the community - a friend, family member, colleague or carer, GP, health professional or volunteer.

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