04 SEP 2018

‘It is OK not to be OK’ is the message from Inspirational Project #Walk2Talk

An inspirational group of young people from Cranbrook have completed a mammoth 200km trek carrying the important message that it is important to talk about mental health and well-being.

The walk supported the Sam West Foundation – a Kent based charity formed to promote awareness, diagnosis and treatment of mental health issues affecting children, young adults and their families, following Sam's tragic death at the beginning of this year. The project is a part of the Foundation's wider campaign to help people find the appropriate resources to improve their mental health and the walk has raised an extraordinary £15,000 towards the cause.

The route of the walk covered over 200km and snaked right across Kent, starting at Cranbrook School on Bank Holiday Monday and taking in sites such as Sissinghurst Castle and Canterbury Cathedral. It ended in London on 5th September with a reception in Parliament organised by Cranbrook's MP Helen Grant. The reception marked the completion of the walk and the group were joined by an array of Senior Government figures including: Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, Work and Pension Secretary Esther McVey, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson, Business Secretary Greg Clark and Schools Minister Nick Gibb, who all congratulated them on their stellar achievement. Prime Minister Theresa May could not attend but wrote a heartfelt personal letter to the team that was read out by Mrs Grant to an emotional gathering at the reception.

Foundation Chairman Chris West said 'Out of the tragedy we as a family have suffered, we want to try and help others affected by mental health, clinical depression and anxiety. PROJECT #Walk2Talk was conceived by our teenage son, Ben, as a way to get people to talk about the issue, and to promote the idea that 'it is ok to not be ok'. People suffering from mental health issues, particularly teenagers, are often reluctant to share their anguish with others. We hope to encourage people to talk, and equally support children, young adults and their families to manage these challenges.'

MP Helen Grant joined around 150 walkers for a part of the Day 1 trek before welcoming them to Parliament at the finish. She said 'The circumstances behind the formation of this Foundation were tragic for the family and friends of Sam West. I cannot begin to imagine the pain of losing a son but what I have witnessed in the last few weeks is an amazingly strong family, and their local community, coming together with a steely resolve to help find solutions for others who are suffering. Their determination to create something positive from their experience is totally inspiring and they have my full support. It was my absolute pleasure to welcome the team to Palace of Westminster to mark their hugely inspiring achievement.'

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