Walk a mile 10/03/12

Walk a mile is alive and well. Back in August I met a couple, Anne and J outside an old decrepit castle. They seemed to get what the whole thing was about….they furnished me with a cup of tea, vegetarian chocolate puddings and a whole load of good will and off they went.

Lyme disease and some such later, I was back in touch with them. They live in Inverness – an ideal stopping off point on our way to Ullapool.

When I say ‘our’ I mean me, Ella with Johanna and Tali the film makers.
We were all happily fed and watered – all off the back of a chance meeting at a castle 30 odd miles north of Ullapool.
Needless to say, Anne and J just got it. Even though I was yet to set foot on the road, it felt that walk a mile was back on course.

With the film makers, proper walking is never completely on the cards as they strive to get a flavour of what this is all about. Essentially I’ve been poncing about playing with my new wandering about kit.

Stewart – a guy I stayed with on the Black Isle with his lovely partner, Teen, appeared in town. We met like old friends- shared stories as quickly as the time would allow – and then a fond farewell – not before he pressed a little something in my hand for the journey ahead. Generous in so many ways. It was lovely to see him.

Unlike many of my rambles, I’ve been given the opportunity – with the camera folk – to see what lays ahead. Since this is the west of Scotland it appears to involve a reasonable amount of water falling from the sky.

It is kind of surreal to think of me standing there in my water/wind/everything proof clothing while the camera folk, less equipped, filmed me with their lips turning blue, unable to feel their feet…I wonder if Ranulph Fiennes is surrounded with the carnage of hypothermic media folk trying to get that last great shot…?

Talking of which – we met a man – in his mid 70’s who presented me with a problem I had not yet encountered…

I’ll not give his name or where he lives since he is nervous of repercussions. He lives with his wife in a small cul-de-sac…quite happily until recently.

I told him my story and he made all the right positive noises – stating categorically that he believed that folk with mental health problems should live in the community and that mental health in general should be talked about more.

He told me about a couple of guys who had been decanted from the local mental health institution into the flats next to his. He knew this because they were quite open about it all – one of the men had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

Our man, struck by the lack of support for these men, helped one of them with his shopping, bills and the like.

This seemed to go well until an elderly friend was at first struck in the street and then beaten up at home by the two men. The assault led to his being treated in hospital for 2 weeks.

His friend is too scared to tell the police who did it – as is the guy who told me the story.

Which leaves 2 older couples scared in their own homes.

He asked me for advice. I initially mentioned the police – and the social work dept – and possibly health too…
It all felt a bit of a vague attempt to help with a tangible problem.

As an outsider, it was easy for me to suggest that these guys had clearly been discharged from hospital without sufficient support – especially the skills to reintegrate with society.

The man I was speaking to believed strongly that folk should be afforded all opportunities to be integrated to society.

The simple fact was – he was scared.
I had – nor do I have a solution.

He hugged me like a long lost friend – telling me this had been weighing heavily on his mind for some time.
What next? What is the answer? Is talking about mental health openly the way ahead? Can any of the authorities help? In the long term, can we help?

Walk a mile

Chris

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