Light up the Darkness campaigners Sue Hughes, CHESS site manager Jude Macbeth, business consultant Tracy Bennett, and employment consultant Bruce Paul - urging people to purchase tickets for the fundraiser for mental health awareness and a mental health practitioner to be held on November 3 at the Yamba Bowling Club. Photo JoJo Newby / The Daily Examiner
Light up the Darkness campaigners Sue Hughes, CHESS site manager Jude Macbeth, business consultant Tracy Bennett, and employment consultant Bruce Paul - urging people to purchase tickets for the fundraiser for mental health awareness and a mental health practitioner to be held on November 3 at the Yamba Bowling Club. Photo JoJo Newby / The Daily Examiner

Community out to light up mental health darkness

COMMUNITIES on the Lower Clarence are making do without permanent mental health services and support but that's something the Light Up the Darkness Committee is out to change and it needs your help to make it happen.

Formed only recently, the committee - chaired by Clarence Valley Councillor Sue Hughes - is aiming to increase community awareness of mental health issues on the Lower Clarence and also has the overall goal of securing the services of a dedicated mental health practitioner for the Lower Clarence.

"There are psychologists who visit for a day every fortnight from outside the region in Yamba and there are other mental health practitioners in Grafton but there is nothing like that on the Lower Clarence on a permanent basis," Ms Hughes said.

"So we're trying to raise money to get a mental health practitioner in the Lower Clarence.

"We're trying to negotiate at the moment - I've spoken to all levels of government, the next step is to speak to the North Coast Area Health CEO to try and figure out how it could work.

Ms Hughes said the cause was one close to her heart and she hoped the efforts of the committee could make a real difference.

"I've lost friends and family to suicide and I just want to do something - to use my energy to get the support here that people need from time to time. It just makes sense," she said.

The first fundraising event to be held by the committee will be a dinner at the Yamba Bowling Club on November 3 - it will involve a meal, raffles and an auction.

There will also be a guest speaker, Darren Flanagan, the explosives expert who was integral in the rescue of miners Todd Russell and Brant Webb during the Beaconsfield mine drama in 2006.

Ms Hughes said she heard Mr Flanagan speak at a work function earlier this year and she was so impressed she invited him to attend the Light Up the Darkness fundraiser.

"I've been to so many functions where there's a speaker but Darren would have to be one of the best guest speakers I've every heard and the reason I think is because he speaks from the heart," she said.

Tickets to the dinner are $50 and are available from the Yamba Bowling Club.



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