Picking up baton for mental health relay

The Blue Light Torch is welcomed to Leigh
The Blue Light Torch is welcomed to Leigh

Blue light services across the region gathered in the borough to welcome the Our Blue Light torch as part of the first UK mental health relay.

To kick-start the Greater Manchester leg of the race, Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service’s (GMFRS) Director of Prevention, Assistant County Fire Officer, Geoff Harris accepted the baton at Leigh Community Fire Station.

The Blue Light Torch is welcomed to Leigh

The Blue Light Torch is welcomed to Leigh

The handover involved a three-legged race, headed up by North West Ambulance Service (NWAS). The new Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, also attended in support of the campaign.

GMFRS will host until Friday with plans to continue to raise awareness of mental health throughout the week.

On the Greater Manchester leg of the journey with GMFRS, the baton is set to make an appearance at a number of locations, including a ride down the Manchester Ship Canal with Leigh-based firefighter and mental health advocate, Wayne Norris.

With the backing of all blue light partners across the region, those involved are hoping to reduce the stigma of mental health and engage local communities in the campaign.

The relay is a great way of involving colleagues and partners in talking about mental health and highlighting the support networks we have in place

Nina Purcell

Nina Purcell, GMFRS’s Assistant Director of People Directorate with responsibility for Health and Wellbeing, said: “We are proud to be supporting the Our Blue Light network which aligns with the work GMFRS do to raise awareness of the importance of maintaining positive mental health.

“The relay is a great way of involving colleagues and partners in talking about mental health and highlighting the support networks we have in place for our colleagues.”

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said: “Mental health was an issue that was constantly raised during the campaign hustings, and is clearly a real concern to many people. It’s great that our blue light services are raising awareness of this issue and it was great to join them for a fun and important event.”

Our Blue Light was established in 2016 with the aim to improve the mental health and wellbeing of emergency services including police, fire, ambulance, search and rescue, prison service and the National Health Service.

The 2017 relay launched on Blackpool Promenade last month before heading to Merseyside and then on to Greater Manchester. The baton will continue to visit regions across the country for the next four months.

On Friday the torch will then be handed to NWAS Emergency Control to continue the campaign.

You can follow the relay journey across Greater Manchester on the Our Blue Light Facebook and Twitter accounts or using #OurBlueLightRelay2017.