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Messages of Hope bring a ray of light for patients at Cefn Coed

Cefn Coed Bags of Hope

Some simple words and gestures have been keeping hope alive for patients struggling with their mental health.

Patients at Cefn Coed Hospital are receiving messages and gifts to give them a lift during what can be a challenging time in their lives.

The initiative is down to a former patient who drew on her own experience on psychiatric wards, and realised little things can sometimes make a big difference.

Bethan Evans, from Barry, launched Messages of Hope, which invites people to compose hopeful messages, or even a video, for those struggling with their mental health.

The messages are then shared with the patients who arrive at hospitals for a psychiatric-related admission.

In addition, the community interest company also provides gift bags – Bags of Hope - for patients, which contain items such as books, toiletries, feminine hygiene products, socks and pants, phone chargers, puzzles and snacks.

Bethan said: “I spent time in several hospitals for psychiatric admissions in London when I was in university. I was in in and out over four years, so I know how traumatic and life-altering every admission can be.

“On several occasions I was admitted without any belongings, and I had to spend days with my hair unwashed and with clothes I’d worn for days.

“So I know what it’s like to arrive on a psychiatric ward without anything, which is where the idea for the Bags of Hope came from - so people arriving on a ward have some basic items.

“It can be a scary time for people arriving in hospital, so messages are an opportunity for people to share a few words with someone struggling with their mental health.

“Sometimes they might not have family support, or people might be reluctant to visit psychiatric wards, so a supportive message, even from someone they don’t know, can give them a lift and offer them some hope.”

Bethan Evans

More than 4,000 items have been donated to the Bags of Hope project since December, and hundreds of bags have been distributed to psychiatric wards. In addition to Cefn Coed they have also been given to patients at Hafan y Coed in Penarth.

They are donated by well-wishers who chose them from an Amazon wish list. Pages with illustrations for colouring in are also made available for their therapeutic value.

Bethan added: “It is really important work to me. I put the bags together with my mother around our kitchen table. We have the spare room filled with boxes of items which have been donated.

“It can be challenging, but when we hear feedback, we know it has been worthwhile.”

Christine Fairfax, occupational therapy team lead, supported the introduction of Messages of Hope into Cefn Coed.

“It is truly heart-warming to acknowledge initiatives that prioritise patients’ well-being and comfort during their hospital stay,” she said.

“Introducing the initiative onto the wards in Cefn Coed exemplifies our commitment to patient care.

“The kindness and generosity of Bethan to include us in this scheme has been very much welcomed and embraced by patients who spontaneously penned thank you cards to show their gratitude and by staff, who had the privilege of seeing the positive effect they have had.

“We look forward to this working partnership continuing and blossoming.”

Main picture: Cefn Coed staff with one of the Bags of Hope. Insert: Bethan Evans.

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