A RENFREW mum who has battled mental health issues is on a mission to change the well-being of Renfrewshire by raising awareness of support services.

Carolyn Richardson, 57, had been attending a group called Recovery Works, run by Recovery Across Mental Health in Paisley, after she experienced bullying at work and was forced to leave her job in 2012.

She had also begun experiencing poor mental health after her son Neil died suddenly at the age of 25 in 2009, after struggling for years with mental health issues and subsequent alcohol addiction. 

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But after the group lost its funding, Carolyn and fellow group members pulled together to start up a wellbeing festival, where they would invite local services along which helped people with their physical and mental health to promote themselves.

The successful festival was held in Paisley Town Hall last month and it is now the team’s target to hold it annually.

Carolyn, who has struggled to secure a job since she left her role as a community project team leader, said if Neil had known about more places he could’ve turned to, he might still be here.

“Neil came home from working in London in February 2009,” said Carolyn.

“He had lost three jobs in 2008 due to his drinking. He was referred to Dykebar Hospital where he was put on medication. In time, he got that sparkle back in his eye. 

“But, one night in November 2009, he bumped into a friend he went to school with who was a heroin addict. He came round to Neil’s flat. Neil was drinking and his friend was taking drugs, and I got a call the next day to say Neil was dead. 

“I think if Neil had known about services which could’ve helped him, he might still be here.

“I also wish I had known about services which could’ve helped quicker than I did.”

The Gazette:

Neil during happier times 

Neil eventually died due to having a number of drugs in his system.

Since walking away from her job, Carolyn has got involved with clubs such as The Buddy Beat in Johnstone, and now feels she is a better place.

And, knowing how much of a difference the festival made to people this year, she is determined to continue it.

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Carolyn added: “We had all sorts of people at the festival including Shopmobility, the Men’s Shed, the Friends of Barshaw Park and Money Advice Scotland.

“I want to keep raising awareness of all the different groups which can help people.”