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Wrexham mental health charity welcomes First Minister

Updated: Jul 10, 2023

(Image: Lesley Griffiths, MS for Wrexham and the First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford visiting Advance Brighter Futures)

Wrexham mental health and wellbeing charity Advance Brighter Futures (ABF) recently had a visit from the First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford.

The First Minister was accompanied by Wrexham’s Member of the Senedd, Lesley Griffiths, on a visit to the charity’s building at Belmont Road, Wrexham on Wednesday, April 7.

The pair were greeted at the building by ABF’s Chief Officer Lorrisa Roberts, Chair of Trustees Rick Bedson, as well as Trustees Rosemarie Williams and Phil Jones, and volunteer Fiona Edwards.

Advance Brighter Futures is a small mental health charity in Wrexham, housed in its own premises since 2000. The charity supports over 700 people in and around Wrexham and Flintshire each year, with up to 100 people accessing the community building every week (pre-pandemic).

ABF was awarded £145,818 last month by Welsh Government’s Community Facilities Programme to enhance and extend its current premises, and this funding will make a big difference in the local community.

Lesley Griffiths, MS for Wrexham, said: “It was a pleasure to welcome Mark Drakeford to Wrexham once again and to visit the wonderful team at Advance Brighter Futures. Looking after your mental wellbeing is crucial. As we look forward and start to contemplate life post-pandemic, it is clear charities like Advance Brighter Futures will play an important role.

“This has been an incredibly challenging time for each and every one of us, but this latest Welsh Government investment will help ensure ABF can expand their services, ultimately enabling them to support even more people in and around Wrexham.”

Rick Bedson, Chair of ABF’s Trustees, said: “It was our pleasure to welcome the First Minister and Lesley to ABF last week. We only recently found out that we’ve received the funding, which will be incredible for the people we support. The fact they wanted to come and see what we do first-hand was wonderful and highlights the fantastic work the charity does in our local community.”

Rosemarie Williams, ABF Trustee, added: “We’re incredibly proud of our work in the local community, so to have the opportunity to tell the First Minister about our services and the improvements we’re making to our building was great. Small charities are special and can reach people that mainstream ones sometimes don’t manage to. We got to show how our charity is focused on highlighting people’s strengths and that this is where our success stems from.”

One of the highlights for the First Minister was getting to hear from ABF’s Trustee Phil Jones, and volunteer Fiona Edwards about their own personal journeys as people who first came to the charity for support but are now giving back to others through their volunteering.

Phil Jones, ABF Trustee, said: “I found this wonderful place when my wife spotted a poster in our local shop. I’d been house bound for six months due to my severe anxiety and it was like living inside a bubble whilst everyone else was living in a different world to me, and I just couldn’t find my way back there. I started to attend ABF’s relaxation sessions, which broke the six months of being at home, which then led on to me attending lifestyle coaching. ABF is a big part of my life.”

Fiona Edwards, ABF Volunteer, said: “ABF has given me back a life, which I live, whereas before I survived. The big, white door of ABF was first opened by a lovely lady who became a great support and still is. I immediately felt at ease. I could tell that I wouldn’t get lost and be just a file with a number. Before I had any help, I couldn’t go on a bus due to anxiety and my OCD. I now can get on the bus, and do so regularly. I’ve gone from being an ABF supported person to a volunteer at the charity, supporting others as a peer.”

Lorrisa Roberts, ABF Chief Officer, added: “The First Minister has since commented that he particularly enjoyed Phil and Fiona’s stories. They are both great examples to show that even when you are feeling at your lowest, there is a way back to enjoying your life.”

If you live in the Wrexham area and struggling with your mental health, you can learn more about ABF and the services on offer here:

Telephone: 01978 364777 / 01978 310247


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