INSIDE: How the

Big Lottery Fund

is putting Lottery

money back

into your


Wales on a

roll with new

skate parks



Don’t suffer

in silence

Page 20

Russell Grant

talks Lottery


TANNI voices support

for Big Lottery Fund

Page 36

Take part in the annual

get-together for neighbours

on Sunday 1 June – a great

excuse to get to know people, try

new things and have a party!

If you’d like to send us

a story about a

project that we’ve

funded then please

get in touch on

0300 123 0735.

Brought to you by


Big Lottery Fund uses money raised from the

National Lottery to bring improvements to

communities and the lives of people in need.

On pages 20-23 you can read about one family’s

battle with post-natal depression and then discover

why Spencer Lewis says you grow up way too quickly

in care (pages 32 to 35).

Read a young woman’s frank and emotive account of

mental illness on pages 10 to 13 and find out who won

our People’s Millions competition on pages 18 and 19.

A few celebrities also make an appearance in this

edition including Manic Street Preachers’ James Dean

Bradfield and astrologer Russell Grant. Read on to find

out what they’re saying about the Big Lottery Fund’s


Remember there is still time for you to tell us what you

think about our work through our 100 Big Voices


(see pages 36 and 37).

I hope you enjoy this issue.


For great ideas on how to run a Big Lunch go to

Published by Big Lottery Fund



Phone: 0300 123 0735

Publishing director: Linda Quinn

Editor: Ben Payne

Assistant editors:

Oswyn Hughes, Sian Jones,

Lisa Powell, David Symons

Production editor: Robert Blow

Production manager:

Emma Robinson

Translator: David Symons

Design: Carmel Parker

Printer: Taylor Bloxham

Ben Payne


To receive BIG magazine FREE email your

name, address and phone number to:

or phone 0300 123 0735

WALES Issue 11 Find out more at | 3


10 32

“It is not a

choice, it is

an illness”

09 20



rides into


Don’t suffer

in silence

Inside BIG

BIG shorts

6 Mardi Gras – everyone in

Cardiff loves a party; Grab a

Grant winners announced;

Royal visitor makes a splash;

Russelling up support – the

UK’s favourite astrologer

promotes Lottery good

causes in Wales

8 Volunteer it Yourself – DIY

experts Wickes train

youngsters to paint and

decorate; Simple as child’s

play; Kate Humble rides into

Cardiff – and says the bike is

the best way forward

Real life

10 “It is not a choice, it is an

illness”: Ffion Jones on the

anguish of an eating disorder

16 The tiny teacher making a

big difference: Baby Polly has

a lot to teach the kids about

being kinder

18 A million reasons to

celebrate: Four Welsh groups

share nearly £200,000

20 Don’t suffer in silence:

Mark Williams on living with

post-natal depression

24 Hall of fame restored to life:


“I felt that


was a battle”

James Dean Bradfield returns

to his roots to open a new

library at the Newbridge

community centre where he

used to work as a barman

26 “I felt that everything was a

battle”: Steph Thielen on

coping with two autistic sons

30 Wales on a roll with new

skate parks: Skateboarders

jump for joy as Lottery

funding rolls out to parks

32 “You grow up way too

quick in care”: Spencer Lewis

describes the

trauma caused

by a childhood

spent in care

and why his


have made him an ideal

person to help others

36 Celebrities back the Big

Lottery Fund: James

Dean Bradfield, Wynne

Evans, Russell Grant,

Tanni Grey-Thompson,

Bernard Latham and Michael

Sheen on the amazing range of

projects funded by the Lottery

Your BIG regulars

38 My Lottery: Russell Grant on why Alzheimer’s Research

would be his charity of choice if he won the jackpot

“You grow up

way too quick

in care”


Wales on a

roll with new

skate parks

4 | COUNTRY WALES Issue Issue X Find 11 out Find more out online more at | 5

BIG shorts

Grab a grant winners announced

Residents in Caerphilly have decided the five community projects to share in £25,000

worth of grants from the Big Lottery Fund. A record 3,011 votes were received for the

Grab a Grant competition run in partnership with Caerphilly County Borough Council.

Ten shortlisted projects from the area were showcased via the Big Lottery Fund and

council websites with supporters voting for their favourite online.

The winners were: Stroke Association, Crosskeys Allotments Association, Caerphilly

Workmen’s Hall and Institute, Caerphilly Disadvantaged Children’s Project and Bargoed

Yoga Group. Mike Theodoulou, Committee member for the Big Lottery Fund in Wales

said: “This money will make a huge difference to the

communities where the projects are working. I

would like to thank everyone who took the

trouble to vote for their favourite project and

helped make this competition a huge success.”

Cllr Keith Reynolds, deputy leader of Caerphilly

Council, said: “Thanks to residents in the county

borough for voting for their favourite projects. It

is great to hear that National Lottery money will

now support grassroots community projects in the

local area.”

6 |

Cardiff had a Brazilian makeover in August as

thousands took part in the annual Mardi Gras.

Lottery funding is ensuring that Cardiff’s premier

gay festival will continue for the foreseeable future.

Crosskeys Allotments Association

Royal visitor

makes a splash

A water sports facility in Swansea, which

has already welcomed over 100,000

people since opening its doors 12 months

ago, recently received a visit from Her

Royal Highness the Princess Royal.

Bay Leisure Limited received a Coastal

Communities grant of £140,000 for its

360 Beach and Waterfront Centre

project. The facility provides a range of

activities, including beach volleyball, power kiting and paddle boarding.

The Coastal Communities Fund was established by HM Treasury to fund projects that

boost the economic prospects of coastal communities across the UK. The fund for

Wales is delivered in partnership with the Welsh Government and Big Lottery Fund.

Russelling up support

Astrologer and Lottery good causes

ambassador Russell Grant joined the Welsh

finalists of the National Lottery Awards to

drum up public votes, and to find out more

about the life-changing work they do.

Finalists Tenovus, Aber Valley Heritage,

Arthur’s Gym, Disability Sport Wales,

National Deaf Children’s Society, Arts in

Health and Lylac Ridge competed for public

votes in the annual search for the UK’s

favourite Lottery-funded projects.

Russell visited the Senedd in

Cardiff Bay to meet Welsh

finalists in the National

Lottery Awards.

He says: “These projects all

do great work with Lottery

players’ money. All the

finalists are doing lifechanging

work, so Lottery

players should be proud

that they have helped to

fund them.”

National Lottery-funded

projects were later

celebrated at a glitzy annual

awards ceremony.

Hosted by John Barrowman of

Torchwood fame, the National Lottery

Stars 2013 celebrated the work of

Lottery-funded projects across the UK and

among those presenting the awards were

singer Jason Donovan, Strictly Come

Dancing judge Len Goodman and comedian

Ricky Tomlinson. Singer Rod Stewart and

boy band Union J provided entertainment.

WALES Issue 11 Find out more at | 7



Young people are

making a difference

This means they can now hire out the space and generate income.

Volunteer It Yourself is supported by London Youth, the Big Lottery

Fund, Wickes, City & Guilds and Cospa. Volunteers are mentored by

professional trades people and gain vocational accreditations plus

access to further training, work placements and apprenticeship

opportunities with local employers.

As a result of Volunteer It Yourself 47 youth clubs across

England and Wales will be renovated by young people.


It Yourself

Young deaf people in Swansea

have gained work experience

and qualifications while

refurbishing their own youth

club thanks to a £1 million Big

Lottery-funded project.

Twenty young people at the

Talking Hands Youth Club based

at the Swansea Centre for Deaf

People have been working with

local trades people to give a

much needed facelift to the

main hall of the



Kate Humble rides

into Cardiff

TV wildlife presenter Kate Humble made a surprise visit

to Pont y Werin (People’s Bridge) in Cardiff to

congratulate Sustrans’ Connect2 on winning the

Environment category in this year’s National Lottery

Awards – the annual search to find the nation’s

favourite Lottery-funded good causes.

Kate presented the

award to Sustrans Chief

Executive Malcolm

Shepherd on Pont y Werin.

Kate said: “Sustrans

Connect2 has enabled

millions of people across

the UK to make everyday

journeys by foot or by bike,

helping them to choose a

healthier, cleaner and

cheaper way to travel.”

Kate crosses

the bridge


Simple as child’s play

The Big Lottery-funded RAY Ceredigion play project improved Linda Harries’

quality of life by helping her to mix better with people from her local


Linda has lived at Hengell Uchaf estate in New Quay for around

20 years but never socialised with other residents.

In February 2012 RAY Ceredigion identified Hengell Uchaf as an estate in need

of facilities to encourage children to play outside and make use of the green area.

They set up a weekly play project, and Linda became a volunteer.

She says: “I now feel a part of the community and know all the children and

parents on the estate. I’m over there myself every week getting messy with the

children and mixing with the parents. I have now enrolled on the NVQ level 2 in

Playwork which is funded by RAY Ceredigion.”

For more information visit

Linda helps local children

have fun outdoors

8 | WALES Issue 11 Find out more at | 9


“It is not a choice,

it is an illness”

My name is Ffion Jones. I am 23 years old, I like reading,

listening to music and spending time with friends and family

have done lots of things with my life so far

I – been on holiday, seen the Vatican in

Rome along with Michelangelo’s ceiling,

visited the Pyramids in Egypt, climbed

Snowdon, been paragliding, swam with

dolphins and seen my fair share of music

concerts and theatre productions.

In addition to these wonderful

experiences, I have also been sectioned

under the mental health act three times,

been pinned down and fed via a tube, spent

months at a time in both general and

psychiatric hospitals, become psychotically

depressed – leaving me with hallucinations

of dark shadows being sent to harm my

family, and pushed my body to such

horrific extremes I nearly lost my life on

several occasions – all due to the firm grip

my eating disorder has had on me since I

was 11 years old.

Despite the belief of many people out

there, I did not choose to become anorexic.

There was never one moment where I

suddenly thought, “I know, I’ll just destroy

my life for the next decade, this seems like

a great idea.” And I did not have a traumatic

childhood, I was never abused. I’m very

lucky as I have an amazing family

who have stood by me in a way I

never thought possible.

My brother was only 6 years old when a

fellow pupil came up to him in the school

yard and said, “My mummy said your

sister’s going to die.” He has grown up

visiting his big sister in psychiatric units,

played cards with me while I had a tube up

my nose and witnessed me being driven

into casualty when the burden of living

with my illness seemed too much and I

tried to take my own life. And the saddest

thing of all is that he doesn’t remember me

being well.

The guilt I feel over this is

something I don’t think will

ever leave me, but all I can do

now is be the big sister I have

always wanted to be with the

time we have left together.

I don’t want to be famous,

I don’t want to be rich, I

just want to wake up in

the morning and be

able to decide what to

have for breakfast

without my mind being

flooded with punitive thoughts of what I

“don’t deserve” and what’s “too naughty”,

whilst being flooded with an excruciating

amount of anxiety that makes me want to

squirm inside my own skin.

I was like a robot

whose control panel

had gone squiffy

Don’t get me wrong – I’m better now than

I have ever been and my illness has

certainly morphed and changed with me

over the years. I have grown stronger with

every step that I moved forward, every

time I dragged myself up from what I

thought was the end for me.

When I first became ill I didn’t know

what hit me, I underestimated the

strength of my illness. I never wanted

to lose weight, I wanted to ‘be

better’, and I hated myself and just

wanted to change, and to feel

accepted, to be ok with myself.

And the obvious starting point for


Ffion Jones now

10 |

Ffion when her eating

disorder had a firm grip

WALES Issue 11 Find out more at | 11


that (just like the movies) is usually

a clean diet and exercise, then the

girl gets the guy and all the cool

friends and lives happily ever after,

right I’ve seen a lot of films and it happens

in all of them – Legally Blonde, Bridget

Jones, Miss Congeniality, it seemed like a

fool-proof plan at the time.

But just as I thought I was gaining some

control over my life, I realised I was not in

control at all. It was only when I felt too

tired to get out of bed and go for a run at

5am that I realised I couldn’t “just could

not”, I “had” to get up and move, I had to

stand for the exact same amount of time

each day, I had to weigh out each grain of

food, I had to only eat at certain times in

certain places of the house and with a

certain ritualistic method. I was like a robot

whose control panel had gone squiffy, I

hated every second of the day, I was

exhausted, I was starving and I longed for a

nap and a cup of tea with a Kit Kat, but I

couldn’t let myself.

The more my illness took control and the

more my weight plummeted, the more I

was driven to see the numbers on the

scales go down, the worse I felt about

myself and the louder those voices got in

my head telling me I was worthless, a bad

person, I didn’t deserve to eat, I didn’t

deserve to live, I was horrible, disgusting,

and they would never let up for a second,

no matter what I did to please them and try

and shut them up for a while, it was never

good enough, they always wanted more.

There is no logic in

mental illness

The first six months of me getting ill were

like some horrific car crash, I was like a tidal

wave of destruction and went from being a

perfectly healthy teenager, to being at

death’s door, phobic of everything to do

with food – I wouldn’t touch it in case it

was absorbed into my skin, I wouldn’t smell

food in case the calories could be inhaled

and I soon stopped drinking in fear of

calories in water.

As my mind grew darker and darker I

didn’t know who I was anymore, my

personality wasn’t accessible, I had lost my

Ffi-ness and was a shadow of my former

self. My body and mind were at war – my

body grew thick hair as it attempted to

keep my organs warm due to lack of

protective fat, I stopped menstruating, I lost

muscle internally as well as externally –

leaving my heart and other vital organs in

danger, the hair fell from my head as my

body didn’t have enough energy to keep it

growing and I collapsed several times due to

dehydration before being rushed to hospital

and placed on drips.

I was terrified, people stared at me and

whispered, the medical staff in the general

hospitals asked me why I was there, why

wouldn’t I eat, why was I doing this to

myself when there were patients there

who had no control over their illnesses and

I did. The truth is I was just as clueless as

they were – I couldn’t stop, I didn’t enjoy it,

I felt the physical pain as a result of the

abuse I was putting my body through.

I’d have given anything to stop, but I

couldn’t. There have been times when

strangers in the street have shouted at me.

You name it – they have called me it –

“vegetarian toothpick, key hole Kate, eat a

burger, skinny cow, ***king disgusting.”

Someone actually threw a pasty at my

head from outside Greggs once. The other

thing people like to say is how intelligent I

am, “She’s so clever, why is she doing this”

One of the hardest things for

me was coming to terms with

having to live alongside my


The answer is actually relatively simple –

I’m mentally ill. There is no logic in mental

illness, I may be able to pass my exams with

flying colours and finish a Sudoku but that

doesn’t mean I’m not completely irrational

at times. If it was as simple as eating a Big

Mac and having my illness disappear, I

would have done that 12 years ago. And

one of the hardest things for me was

coming to terms with having to live

alongside my illness, learning to control it

instead of the other way around.

My journey has been a long and bumpy

road and sometimes I think the only way I

have gotten through is due to how

irritatingly stubborn I am – I hate losing and

I’m not about to let an illness that I hate

order me around anymore. I hate that it’s

still a feature of my life and the last year I

have worked harder than ever to face my

fears, set myself challenges which most

people can do without batting an eye lid.

I had a melt in the middle chocolate

pudding from Marks and Spencer’s a few

weeks ago – the one on the advert with the

lady with the unnecessarily sensual voice

that I had stared at for about six years but

never let myself have, and my anxiety hit

the roof while it was cooking, the smell was

divine and I paced around the kitchen

debating whether I should have it or not,

was it “too nice for me”, had I “earned it”

And that set my alarm bells off, whenever I

find the word “allowed” enter my mind I

know instantly it is my illness and therefore

I need to do the opposite to what its telling

me. I loved every mouthful of that pudding

and I’ve had it twice since that first time, I

am no longer in denial – I love chocolate!

Someone once told me, “The only way out

is through,” and that has helped me a lot

over the last few months as I faced my

illness head on.

I have an amazing family who

have stood by me in a way I

never thought possible

At this moment in time I am better than I

have ever been, for the first time in my life

I am healthy, for the first time since I

was 12 and, at times, I am at a

healthy body weight and at

times I still feel like an alien off

12 |

WALES Issue 11 Find out more at | 13


Men in Black, like I don’t quite fit

right in my own skin. But I am

loving it more and more, I love

being able to watch a film without getting a

numb bum, I love being able to walk down

the street and not have people know

what’s wrong with me, they have no idea

what’s going on in my head when I’m

queuing at Costa. I look like a normal

indecisive person trying to choose which

delicious cake to have, they don’t hear the

stream of thoughts and voices flood

through my mind, or the fast beating of my

heart as my anxiety reaches a peak over

whether I have made the “right” decision.

I may have my demons under a tight

leash at the moment, but it does not mean

that they are not there. And it does not

mean that I am not fearful that one day

they will get loose again and take over.

I have already lost years of my life to this

illness; I never had a school prom, I’m 23

and I’ve never had a proper relationship, I

haven’t enjoyed a birthday or Christmas in

a decade, I haven’t even let myself

celebrate my birthday or accept presents

since I was 12, I never felt worthy. And last

Christmas I was actually sectioned under

the Mental Health Act and spent the whole

period (including New Year) in a specialist

eating disorder unit. But these are now

fragments of my past, soon to be replaced

by the things that I can do now and the

things that I will do in the future.

These memories and psychological scars

will never leave me, the guilt of what I’ve

put my family through will always be there

to some extent, and the damage done to

my body has left me with severe

osteoporosis, which at the age of 23 isn’t

good, I am also yet to find out if I am

fertile. These are not things that I can

change or reverse no matter how much I

want to, all I can do is look to the future

and deal with the cards that life has given

me to my best ability.

14 |

My message is a simple

one – never lose hope,

never give up and never

feel ashamed of being ill

I have had half of my lifetime completely

destroyed by my illness and it will affect

me to some extent forever, but actually

right now, for the first time I’m ok, I am not

completely cured, I don’t feel wonderful

about myself but I’m genuinely happy and

hopeful for my future.

There have been several times in my

life when I thought my illness would kill

me, I would never get “better”, I didn’t

even know what “better” was. And I’m still

not entirely sure because my illness is not

gone, but it has shrunk back into its corner

and I have no intention of letting it out

again – ever!

I will never let the lies spun by my illness

consume my mind again, I will never bow

down to its tortuous demands and I will

stand up and fight against my eating

disorder and the disorders of thousands of

others suffering in the UK alone.

I’m better now than I

have ever been and my

illness has certainly

morphed and changed

with me over the years

To have an eating disorder is to fall under

the clutches of a severe psychological

cancer that’s sole aim is to destroy the lives

of its beautiful and unsuspecting sufferers.

My message is a simple one – never lose

hope, never give up and never feel

ashamed of being ill. Not everyone will

understand what you are going through

and many may cast unnecessary judgments

but take it from the millions suffering out

there – it is not a choice, it is an illness and

like any other illness it can be treated. BIG

What we did

Ffion is a supporter of Time to

Change Wales (TTCW). The

national campaign, funded by

the Big Lottery Fund, Comic

Relief and the Welsh

Government, aims to help end

the stigma and discrimination

faced by people with mental

health problems in Wales.

WALES Issue 11 Find out more at | 15


The tiny teacher mak ing a big difference

Baby Polly might only be ten

months old but she has

already been teaching

children at Llanedeyrn

Primary School in Cardiff

some of the most valuable

lessons in life

Global roots

Over 450,000 children have taken

part in the programme worldwide,

including Canada, USA, New Zealand, Isle of

Man, Northern Ireland and the Republic of

Ireland. Results have shown a vast

improvement in increasing children’s

empathy, behaviour and improving

emotional problems, conduct and issues

around hyperactivity.

For further information about the project

and how you can take part, visit the Action

for Children website:


“I was invited to take part in Roots of

Empathy by a friend and it sounded like a

fantastic idea,” says Rachel Taylor-Beales

from Roath, Cardiff.

“She knew I was pregnant and got in

touch just before Polly was born. We

went into the school at the start of the

new term. It was the ethos of the

programme that made me want to

get involved more than anything.”


Rachel and Polly are among the parents and

toddlers in Wales who have been taking part

in the £1 million Roots of Empathy project

funded by the Big Lottery Fund and run by

Action for Children. The project involves

bringing a baby known as a ‘tiny teacher’ and

parent into the classroom to help children

develop empathy and improve the

behavioural and emotional issues some

children may have.

For Rachel, it’s been a fantastic experience.

“I’ve really enjoyed watching the dynamics

grow and develop through the class’

interaction and engagement with my

daughter and answering some of the

questions asked about being her mum,”

says Rachel.

Rachel and baby Polly in the classroom

“It’s not only good in terms of the

emotional literacy that’s explored

throughout the course but it also teaches

the fundamentals of how to look after a

baby, which is the most important thing we

can do in our lives. It was a really nice and

welcoming environment and the children

were very excited to meet Polly. Some of

the children were very restless at the

beginning but as time went on, they were

all engaged.”

During the course of the year the children

at the school became more focused

according to Rachel.

“They genuinely welcomed Polly every

time she came in,” she says.

“They asked some very poignant

questions about her development and what

it’s like for me to be a mum. The children’s

ability to listen really developed over the

course from my perspective and they were a

lively and fun class to be a part of.”

Rachel also believes that Polly grew in

confidence within the environment and

really enjoyed the sessions.

“It was a privilege to be able to share the

wonder of each baby milestone as they

happen with a whole class and their teachers

and to know that even at such an early age

your child is able to impact the lives of

others in a positive way.

“For me personally, the project has been

great to be involved in. I’ve seen the

difference that a baby can make to people’s

lives from day one. All the kids are excited

about the different milestones and the

journey they’ve gone on with her.

“Projects such as this one should be an

integral part of every child’s education. If

there are children whose family life isn’t

perhaps what it should be, then projects like

this can help raise awareness both for the

child and the teachers at the school

involved. So I think it works on many

different levels.” BIG

Polly interacts with

her new classmate

16 |

WALES Issue 11 Find out more at | 17


A million


to celebrate

Four Welsh groups celebrated sharing nearly £200,000

thanks to winning over the public with their inspirational

ideas in the annual People’s Millions competition





Green Teens




enabling them

to teach

young people

how to grow

and develop

an allotment.


It was the eighth year that

the Big Lottery Fund and

ITV have given the public

the chance to choose where

the Lottery good cause cash

goes. Projects are featured

on ITV regional news with

the public vote determining

which deserving causes win.

Challenge Wales in Cardiff

celebrated winning £50,000 for

its Turning the Tide project

which will develop the selfesteem

and life-skills of young

people through sailing

opportunities. The Positive

Future Voyages project will run a

host of pre-voyage sensory

visits and sailing voyages for

around 140 visually impaired

young people and their buddies

throughout Wales.

18 |

This year

Action for

Elders Trust


£49,340 to

fund sessions

for older people

in community

centres in

Cardiff and

Wrexham. They

focus on three


physical health,

mental health

and general


And the runner up project receiving the most phone votes was GISDA in north

Wales who will use £50,000 to run The Caffi Ni/Our Cafe (£50,000) project

which will open an informal cafe in Caernarfon where the homeless charity can

provide young people with work experience, new skills, confidence and the

motivation to lead successful independent lives.

WALES Issue 11 Find out more at | 19



Becoming parents for the first time is usually one of the

happiest moments in any couple’s lives. However, for Mark

Williams his wife’s post-natal depression following the birth

of their son turned both their lives into a living nightmare

Don’t suffer

In December 2004 my little boy

Ethan was born. He was

gorgeous,” says Mark Williams,

38, from Bridgend. “I couldn’t believe I was a

dad, it was an overwhelming feeling.

My wife Michelle had been in labour for a

long time (20 hours) and

eventually had to have a

caesarean. When I was told she

was having a caesarean I had a

panic attack, something I’d never

experienced before.

After the birth, my wife was

tired and wanted me to stay with

her all the time. At the time I

didn’t find this unusual as I just

thought it was normal behaviour

as she must have been exhausted

and had been given a lot of drugs.

I left the hospital and returned a

couple of hours later with a teddy

for my son. When I returned my wife was

very clingy, which was very unusual. I knew

then something was wrong.

After a couple of days we left the hospital

and returned home. It was strange being

home with a new baby to look after.

Michelle wasn’t herself.

Within a couple of weeks it became clear

that she was suffering from post-natal

depression. She couldn’t sleep, didn’t want to

eat and didn’t want any visitors. She was

finding it very difficult to deal with everyday


I thought, she can’t be suffering with that,

she’s always happy, never gets down or

depressed. I never really knew much about

depression and didn’t

understand it. I didn’t realise

how she could be

depressed when we had

everything. I now realise

that it doesn’t work like

that. Depression can hit


I tried everything to make

my wife happy. Whatever

she wanted I would buy. I

remember walking through

the shopping centre saying,

‘You can have whatever you

want’. But all the money in

the world wouldn’t have made a difference

to my wife at that point.

Michelle Williams


Depression is an illness. We had a new

house, good jobs, lots of friends and family

support, yet it still happened. It doesn’t

matter if you’re a millionaire or someone

with no money at all depression can hit


“I tried everything to

make my wife happy”

Mark Williams


20 | WALES Issue 11 Find out more at | 21


The depression got so bad that

she had to go back and forth to

the hospital. I went from being a

social person to living in a bubble. I couldn’t

tell my mates. I didn’t understand

depression, so how were they going to

understand I was afraid of what people

would say. I was one of the people who had

dismissed mental illness, but now it was part

of my life.

I soon had to go on leave from being a

self-employed salesperson to look after my

wife and my lovely son. I had to look after

the household tasks and bills which would

normally be done by my wife. I found the

isolation unbearable, but I carried

on pretending to everyone that

everything was all right. My

mother-in law came to stay with

us to help out, and we also stayed

with my parents sometimes.

At one point I went off the rails,

once I knew my wife and son

were safe with family. I honestly

felt like running away from the


If you live in the Bridgend area,

and your wife or partner is

suffering from post-natal

depression, and you need help,

please get in touch with

Fathers Reaching Out.

The group is also looking for

men who have been through

this to help others.

Mark says, “Once you do

start talking about it, you‘d be

surprised at the people who

have gone or are going

through it now.”

To find out more about

Fathers Reaching Out, visit

pressure cooker that I was living in 24 hours

a day. Once I broke my hand punching the

sofa. We tried many therapies to help my

wife get better.

At that point we would have tried

anything, money didn’t matter. I remember

saying that we would sell the house, so I

could stay off work longer.

We look back now and know if we are

having a bad day it can never be as bad as

what we experienced then, trust me.

Sometimes we would avoid going home in

the day, we found it better being out and


People shouldn’t be afraid to talk about it.

My wife didn’t ask for it, our life was great. It

Mark and Michelle with

their son, Ethan

happened like a switch going on.

There is a difference between

baby blues and severe post-natal

depression. There’s nothing worse

than someone saying, ‘Oh my

wife had that and got over it in a

few days’ when you have been

going through it for many


My message to everyone who

is in suffering from post-natal

depression is, ‘Don’t suffer in

silence’. It took about a year for

my wife to recover fully. She is a

fantastic mum and fortunately

my son has no idea of the issues

we faced when he was younger.


I strongly feel that even though

there is more support now for women in this

situation there is not much support for men.

By chance I started speaking to a man

who was going to a post-natal group. He

had been through a difficult time and said

that he felt there was not much support

for men.

I couldn’t believe when talking to this man

how much we had in common. We had both

been in the same situation and I thought

how much it would have helped me if I could

have spoken to someone like him at the time

that we were in that position.

He opened up and talked to me about

what he was going through. This is the

reason why more support groups for men

are needed. Men don’t talk about their

feelings but they shouldn’t be afraid to if

they need help.

I decided to see what was available now

for men in this position and found that not

much had changed – there was still not

much support for men.

Having gone through this difficult time

and come out the other side. I feel this

experience has made me a better person. I

now understand more about mental

health and feel that I am in a position to

help others.

I am now working in the mental health

sector and feel it’s time to help others

through the organisation I’ve set up –

Fathers Reaching Out – which supports

men whose wives or partners are suffering

from post-natal depression. I hope this

support group and network will help others.

Winston Churchill, who also


depression, once said: ‘If

you’re going through hell, keep

going’. You will come out the

other side. BIG

What we did

Thanks to a grant of £2,500 from the

Big Lottery Fund, Fathers Reaching

Out is now able to reach out to more

fathers with a new magazine offering

advice and support.

22 |

WALES Issue 11 Find out more at | 23


A Design for Life

He’s performed to sell out crowds in the

biggest arenas all over the world. Now

James Dean Bradfield, the lead singer of the

Manic Street Preachers, has come back

home to open a new library in the building

where he worked as a barman in the 1980s

After more than 30 years of neglect, the

first phase in restoring the dilapidated

Celynen Collieries Institute and Memorial

Hall buildings in Newbridge is complete

thanks to a grant of £500,000 from the

Big Lottery Fund.

In a restoration project costing

£5.9 million, the Institute has been

completely renovated and now boasts a

brand new library and IT centre, community

meeting rooms and a new link building to the

adjacent Grade 2* listed Memorial Hall which

is also being lovingly restored.

“The building is a testament

to a generation that had

heart, soul and imagination”

Between 1986 and 1989 Manic Street

Preachers’ James Dean Bradfield worked as

a barman in the ‘Memo’ (as the Memorial

Hall is affectionately known) and described

how the venue helped shape his guitarplaying

and musical career.

In the 1970s and 80s, the Memo was on

the national circuit for up-and-coming

bands, many of whom went on to become

The Memo in the

early 20th century

rock legends in their own

right. The Stranglers, Iron

Maiden, Dire Straits, Motorhead and

Whitesnake are a few of the names who

inspired locals to get involved with music

and form their own bands – the most

notable example being James and the Manic

Street Preachers.

“It was the only place that would give me

a job and it educated me,” says James, who

now lives in Cardiff.

“It was a proper earthy place and I was

amazed how the community came together.

It used to be packed every Sunday and it

was a really warm place to work. I was

learning how to play guitar at the time and it

played a big part in my development.”

When he began working at the Memo,

fellow Manics Nicky Wire and Richey

Edwards had left their hometown of

Blackwood to attend University in

Swansea, with James re-sitting his

A-Levels, doing occasional

labouring on building sites and

busking on the streets of Cardiff.

He worked there on Tuesday

nights for the ballroom dancing,

for weddings on Saturdays and the

famous Sunday night Blues


“There were regularly six

hundred people watching a concert

here. It sometimes kicked off, but

the atmosphere and excitement

was incredible.

“It was an amazing place, with a lot of

amazing musicians and talent passing

through,” he says.

“They would sign my records. Seeing these

bands gave me confidence; it was an

education. I saw how they acted and how

not to act on occasions as well.”


Originally opened in 1908, the Institute

building was financed by a group of local

miners who wanted to improve the area’s

social amenities. According to James,

preserving the legacy of these working class

men is vital.

“This building is a testament to a

generation that had heart, soul and

imagination,” he says.

“That generation was forged in hard, tough

and dangerous industries but they still had

the foresight to actually build these places

off their own backs.

It’s up to this

current generation

to use and treasure

this building in the

same way they did.

“It’s good that the

Big Lottery Fund

has given money to

regenerate the place

because the place

The Memo as it

looks today

Posters displayed in the

Memo from a bygone era

still had a soul and had a purpose. The fact

that they gave half a million pounds to this

place is absolutely vital to its future, there’s

no denying it. And you can’t do anything but

applaud that.”

Project chair Howard Stone has lived in

Newbridge for over 50 years and was one

of the locals who came to the rescue when

there were threats to tear the unique

building down and build a car park or a block

of flats over the site.

“The intention of this project is to return

the building to its original use,” says Howard.

“The library was originally part of the

Institute and was re-located to a prefabricated

building across town in the

1960’s. But now it’s back.

“The Institute library was apparently one

of the best stocked libraries in South Wales.

There were numerous first edition books

here and lots of miners learned to read here

– my father being

one of them.

“Institutes like this

were considered to

be the ‘Universities

of the Valleys’ and

people like Aneurin

Bevan even taught

themselves to

read in places

like this.” BIG


24 |

WALES Issue 11 Find out more at | 25


“I felt like everything was a battle”

Like any mother, 42-year-old Steph Thielen loves her

two children and all she wants to do is keep them happy

and safe. But some days she admits her autistic sons left

her at breaking point

Dylan, nine, has high functioning autism

with developmental co-ordination delay,

meaning he has difficulties with movement,

co-ordination and organising his thoughts.

His younger brother, Tyler, six, has autism

with global developmental delay which

means he is slower to meet milestones than

other children. Things like speech and

walking have taken longer to develop and he

still needs nappies.

“They are very different in

personality,” says Steph. “One

is more intellectual and the

other is more physical but

they can both display

What is autism

Autism is a lifelong developmental

disability that affects how a person

communicates with, and relates to, other

people. It also affects how they make sense

of the world around them.

It is a spectrum condition, which means

that, while all people with autism share

certain difficulties, their condition will

affect them in different ways. Some people

with autism are able to live relatively

independent lives but others may have

accompanying learning disabilities and

need a lifetime of specialist support. People

with autism may also experience over or

under sensitivity to sounds, touch, tastes,

smells, light or colours.

challenging behaviour and experience social

difficulties. Not being able to communicate

their feelings can result in them exhibiting

disruptive behaviour, aggression and

frustration. There are many challenges in my

caring role, but the short version is keeping

the boys occupied, happy and safe. If they

are not occupied, it’s an open invitation to

challenging behaviour.

“Some of the most challenging things are

not getting enough sleep, being able to go

places with the children on my own – always

need two adults there – finding suitable

childcare as my six year old is not toilet

trained and can be aggressive, finding

suitable schools, finding time for myself and

my own needs. There are loads of challenges

but you just get on with it really.”


Both Steph’s sons were born in Germany

where she was a manager in a language

school. But because of a lack of support, she

returned to her home town of Swansea

where there is a stronger network of family

and friends. On her return she also rekindled

her relationship with 47-year-old Duncan

Smedley who shares the caring


“When Dylan was about three, it became

virtually impossible for me to work and when

I returned to the UK, I discovered that Tyler

was also on the spectrum and affected even

more than his brother,” says Steph.

Steph with her sons


26 |

WALES Issue 11 Find out more at | 27


“Duncan has been a huge help

to us all – he is not the father of

my children but they are the

children of his heart if not of his blood. I

hope to get back into the working world

at some point but at the moment my

energy is used up in my

responsibilities as a carer.”

Steph admits she was near rock

bottom until she discovered

Swansea Carers Centre. Its Life

Skills for Carers project supports

carers in developing their own personal

life skills.

“I felt everything was a battle – I was

quite an angry person really,” she admits. “I

was too busy trying to sort things out for

everyone else and automatically put my own

needs on hold. “Then, I saw a flyer for a first

aid course that Swansea Carers Centre was

offering and I realised that if something

really bad happened, I wouldn’t know what

to do.

28 |

“I felt


was a battle”

“I signed up for it and that opened the

door to other opportunities. It was while I

was at the carers centre getting help that I

saw a poster for the Life Skills programme.

I was quite nervous about attending as I

hadn’t been on any kind of training for a

long time and I was a bit socially

challenged as I had been very


“Emma at the Carer’s Centre

was so down-to-earth, so kind

and understanding, it made it a lot

easier to really talk about the areas in my life

that were less than satisfactory. The courses

I have been on as a result of identifying

these areas have made my road a lot

smoother and the whole experience has

been rewarding.”

After attending courses to improve her

confidence, assertiveness and memory as

well as lessons in tai chi, Steph now feels she

is better equipped with skills needed to get a

job when her children are older and the time

Steph gets some

advice at the centre

is right. And, despite her new found

confidence, she still faces many day-today


“As Dylan is in full time school at the

moment with some support, my day is

mainly taken up with managing family

appointments, running the household and

finances,” she says.

“I’m also homeschooling Tyler part-time

as frequent staff changes in school have

caused him to display more challenging

behaviour than normal. The plan is to

gradually reintegrate him at school over the

next couple of months.”


Although she has fears for her sons’

uncertain futures, Steph is in a much better

place thanks to the Swansea project.

“I was resigned to the way my life had

turned out – now I can see it doesn’t have to

be like that,” she says.

“The project has made me feel better

about myself and given me the opportunity

to try new things – it’s given me back to me.

“I’ve reconnected with myself as a person

in my own right which is hard to do when

you’re a carer because you are always putting

someone else’s needs ahead of your own.

“A happy mummy means happy kids and

people around me react differently as well.

“They are such lovely people at Swansea

Carers Centre. I wish I had contacted them

earlier – I might have had a few less battles

or at least the right armour and defences.”

Steph, who has her sights set on studying

for a degree in psychology, praised the way

Lottery money is spent on projects like the

Swansea Carers Centre.

She says: “Why does anyone buy a Lottery

ticket in the first place They buy themselves

a little bit of hope.

“This Life Skills project gives hope back to

people who have put their own dreams on

hold to concentrate on someone else’s.

“It helps people who help other people and

renews their strength to keep on helping.” BIG

What we did

Steph keeps her

children entertained

Swansea Carers Centre’s Life Skills for

Carers project was supported by

money from Big Lottery Fund and

European Social Funds – distributed

through the Welsh European Funding


The project helps carers find training,

volunteering, relevant work experience

or education. They also support them

into accessing routes back into

employment and help with CV writing,

interview skills, job searching and work


WALES Issue 11 Find out more at | 29


Wales on a roll with new skate parks


Stakeboarders across Wales jumped with delight when news

that money from the Big Lottery Fund had rolled in to fund

their parks

A wheely

big thanks

to you Big



Quay Wheels in Flintshire is

just one example of a

skatepark that’s received

funding. It secured nearly

£59,000 through The

People’s Millions.

Now the all wheeled play

area on the Deeside strip

promotes a healthy and

safe environment with

Flintshire County Council

managing the project in

partnership with Deecat.


community skates

into action for

new park

After years of campaigning, young people in the

community of Knighton in Powys now have access

to a brand new skate and BMX park thanks to a

grant of nearly £117,000 from the Big Lottery


The new park, which cost £126,000 in total

opened in August last year near the Offa’s Dyke

Centre in the town. The park has been designed to

cater for BMX riders, scooters and inline skaters and

is open seven days a week during daylight hours.

30 | WALES Issue 11 Find out more at | 31


“You grow up way too quick in care”

After a childhood moving from one foster-home to the next

Spencer Lewis is well aware of the long-term damage that

the lack of a stable childhood can have

Spencer Lewis’s whole childhood was

spent in statutory care. The 26 year old

from Cardiff entered foster care as a baby

due to his parent’s drug addiction. Torn away

from his sister and forced to move from one

foster home and one school to another, he

always felt rejected as a child and was bullied

at school because of his circumstances.

He left school with very few qualifications

and has suffered with depression for most

of his life.

However, thanks to vital

support and his own courage

and determination, Spencer

has thankfully turned his life

around, has earned a range of

new qualifications and now,

working as a development

officer for Voices from Care,

he dedicates his time to

supporting other children in

care who are going through

similar experiences.

Spencer Lewis


“I was under a care order from

when I was a baby until I was 18 years old,”

says Spencer.

“The first six years of my life were very

stable and I lived with the same foster family

for the whole period. However, I was moved

around a lot after that and it had quite a

negative impact on me. It was hard when my

placements fell through. It felt like one

rejection or knockback after another.”

According to Spencer, the biggest

challenges of growing up in care are the

various and complex emotional difficulties

that young people have to endure.

“I think my case was really difficult

because the older I got, the more

understanding of my situation I had and that

made things a lot harder,” he says.

“The moving round, being rejected and not

knowing why were really hard to take. For a

long time, I used to think it was

me. Also, when you’ve had a

failed placement I think you

were labelled as a naughty

child or a child that didn’t form

attachments. That label

tended to stick with you even

if it wasn’t true. Sometimes

you would spend a weekend

with a family and you would

never see them again and you

would never know why.

“The long-term damage

that being moved around

caused me can’t be measured.

I was always asking ‘What’s

wrong with me Why don’t people like me

Why can’t I make friends All those things go

through your head and the real reason is

something that’s totally out of your control.”

Research indicates that children in care are

more likely than the average child to have

poor outcomes including poor educational

achievement, an increased likelihood of

having mental health problems and of


32 |

WALES Issue 11 Find out more at | 33


becoming involved in crime and substance

misuse and of becoming unemployed

or homeless. This comes as no surprise

to Spencer.

“I was described as being ‘slow’ by some

people in school. But I wasn’t slow, I just had

a huge amount of things on my plate that

the average child in school never had to deal

with,” he explains.

“I used to question if it was worth

investing in friends if I was going to be

moved on again. Was I going to be rejected

by another family These aren’t questions a

young boy should be asking. To try and

concentrate in school with all these things

going through your mind was not an easy

task. Unfortunately, because I moved around

a lot and because of other things that were

going on in my life, I left school with one

GCSE which is apparently the current

expectation of someone in my situation.

School was very hard, in particular the last

few years because I had to start over at a

new school.

“As I got older, the kids got meaner and

34 |

Spencer at

Voices from Care

“You grow up way too quick

in care and you don’t get to

have that much fun”

they would say really nasty

things. They knew all of the

buttons they could push. Some

would say things like ‘No wonder

your mum didn’t want you’. In

one school the bullying got so

bad that it drove me to break

my placement down with the

carer I lived with at the time just

so I could move schools. It was

no surprise that I got the grades

I did when I left really.

“The thing I would have liked

to see when I was in care was

more stability with regards to

where I lived. By the time I was

16 I felt like I was being punished and that I

was some kind of criminal,” says Spencer.

In future, Spencer would like to see more

groups for young people in care that are

social based and around having fun.

“You grow up way too quick in care

and you don’t get to have that much fun,”

he says.

“Constant stability, group work and

mentoring are important factors. There

should be a lot more relationship councillors

involved to guide you on friendships and

relationships. When you grow up in care you

might need extra support with those issues.

It’s also important to support children in

preparation for when they leave care. I

suffered with depression when I left. My

depression just grew and grew and the older

I got the more intense it became.

“What I think works personally is providing

peer support for each other and just having

the consistency and continuity of support.

Support groups would be a help and I’ve

benefited from these later on in life. It

provides a confidence boost for people in

care. I think care leavers should also build

more links and mentor people who are

currently in care. Foster carers could also

mentor care leavers living in the community

to help with everyday issues and to be there

for them.”


Since leaving care, Spencer has taken himself

through college to gain the qualifications he

missed out on in school and is now looking to

study for an Open University qualification in

Health and Social Care. Over the last year, he

has also been working as a Development

Officer for Voices from Care, supporting

children and young people who are going

through similar experiences.

“I feel a strong duty of care to the children

and young people I work with, especially

since I’ve been through the whole system

myself,” he explains.

“When people talk to me, they realise I’m

not just another worker. I’m somebody who

has been there and I understand. It’s

comforting for many of them. My whole life

is now based around helping other people

who are going through the same thing. I try

to reassure them that they have the power

to make positive changes in their life and be

all they can be.” BIG

● In the year ending 31 March 2013,

5,743 children were classified as

‘looked after’ in Wales, an increase of

0.3 per cent over the previous year and

a 24 per cent increase over the

previous five years.

● The majority (4,440) were in foster

care placements and 10 per cent of

children had three or more placements

during the year.

● The most common reason (60 per

cent) for children to enter care in 2012

was neglect or abuse.

● Whilst overall educational

attainments improved over the

previous year, only 9 per cent of care


Spencer is among the care leavers

supporting and informing a new

Big Lottery-funded study which will

explore new ways of transforming

the life chances of children and

young people in care in Wales over

the next 10 years.

Working in partnership with experts

in the field from Cardiff Universities’

School of Social Sciences and

Swansea University, Children in

Wales, a charity which aims to

promote the interests of children,

young people and their families, is

leading the study.

The study will gather evidence from

across the UK and overseas to

understand need and identify

effective interventions and support.

Following the study, Big Lottery

Fund hopes to invest £5 million in

work which would dramatically

improve the outcomes for children

in care in Wales.

Children and young people in care – the facts for Wales

leavers aged 16 or over obtained 5 or

more GCSEs at grade A* to C.

● The local authority areas with the

highest number of looked after

children are:

Rhondda Cynon Taf (621)

Swansea (588)

Cardiff (557) and

Neath Port Talbot (492).

● In 2009/10, looked after children

counselled by ChildLine across the UK

were five times more likely than

children counselled by Childline

overall to discuss running

away and were twice as likely

to discuss self-harm.

WALES Issue 11 Find out more at | 35


Celebrities back the Big Lottery Fund

As part of the 100 Big Voices campaign, we’ve been asking

people what they think about our work to improve

communities and lives of people most in need

And six Welsh celebrities have had their say on

the impact of the Big Lottery Fund in Wales...

James Dean

Bradfield from

the Manic Street


speaking at the

launch of the


Memorial Hall

and Institute


that funds

places where

people can go

is important

and in this

instance Big

Lottery Fund giving half a million

is vital – you can’t do anything

but applaud that.”

Actor Michael Sheen, speaking at the

launch of the Baglan Youth Centre

“The Lottery makes a big

difference by putting money into

the places that need it most.”

Actor Bernard Latham,

who played

Mr C in Hollyoaks

“I think the Big

Lottery Fund

works very well.

The wide range of

projects that it’s

prepared to support allows the

money to be spread fairly around

different communities.”

Cardiff-born Tanni Grey-Thompson,

winner of 11 Paralympic gold medals.

“There are amazing projects that

perhaps wouldn’t have got off

the ground if it weren’t for the

Big Lottery Fund.”

Russell Grant, celebrity


“What the Lottery

does for Welsh

communities is a

very good thing. The

money helps people

connect with each

other, and more

importantly, gives

them something to

do in their own


Wynne Evans, Welsh tenor and star of

the Go Compare TV ads

“As a patron of Tenovus, I’ve

seen first-hand the difference

that Big Lottery funding has

made to


affected by

cancer in

Wales. Their

funding for


choir project,

Sing with Us,

has allowed

the charity to help hundreds of

people. Long may it continue.”

If you would like to add your voice visit


36 |

WALES Issue 11 Find out more at | 37


We ask some of Wales’s well-known

personalities some personal

questions about the National Lottery

Britain’s celebrity astrologer, Russell Grant is a

good causes ambassador for the National

Lottery. Russell took some time out of his

busy schedule to answer some questions

about the National Lottery

Which good causes have you supported

recently and why

For nine years I was a carer for my

grandmother who had alzheimer’s and

dementia. Since then I’ve supported

Alzheimer’s Research.

If you had the power to change anything in

the world, what would it be

I’d give more support to old people. I think

sometimes they’re neglected when it comes

to their welfare and their needs.

If you could volunteer for a good cause for a

week, which one would it be and why

I would love to go round homes or community

centres where there are older people on their

own. Maybe they’ve lost their partner,

perhaps they’re depressed or don’t see

anybody. I would love to have the chance to

have a cup of tea with people and speak to

them and generally make them feel wanted.

What would you do if you won the Lottery

The first thing I would do is put money

straight into Alzheimer’s Research and the

Alzheimer’s Society or AGE UK.

Secondly, I would love to get all my friends

from Strictly Come Dancing and take them to

meet people who want to get involved in


I would also open a showbiz academy so

people can learn the art of entertainment

whether that’s singing, dancing or acting.

What would you like the National Lottery to

spend money on

A lot of small football clubs need money to

survive. I support a lot of football clubs and I

think community sports is important. Both

sports and the arts bring out people’s

creativity and enable them to be part of

something positive in their own community.


38 |

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