TV stars, musicians, poets and mindfulness experts are all lined up to entertain and enlighten the crowds at a free festival next weekend — all with mental health in mind.
Awarefest will be held at the George Wright Boutique Hotel in Rotherham town centre from noon to 10pm next Saturday and Sunday, with two former TV stars booked in to talk openly about their battles with mental health and bullying.
Former Coronation Street actor Bruce Jones, who played Les Battersby, will be giving a talk on Saturday (18) from 4pm about his well-documented battle with depression, which culminated in him trying to take his and his wife Sandra’s life by attempting to crash their car at 60mph.
This was a terrifying moment in Bruce’s battles with mental health, which he believes was caused by several distressing events, including discovering the mutilated body of a Yorkshire Ripper victim.
Reality TV star Rick Stevens, who recently appeared on Channel 4’s SAS: Who Dares Wins, will appear at Awarefest on Sunday.
When barrister Rick is not scaling mountains, running across glaciers or holding court, he is one of the country’s top CrossFit athletes and regularly models for fitness and outdoor brands.
He is also a proud anti-bullying advocate, having suffered bullying during his childhood.
Ged Jenkins-Omar, festival organiser said: “Mental health is becoming a much more open subject to talk about but there are still many who are still suffering in silence and that needs to change.
“There are lots of great organisations out there that have services available for people to use and we want to signpost those in a relaxed and enjoyable environment.
“It will be really interesting to hear what Bruce and Rick have to say and as a free event we hope people come along on the day and enjoy the speakers, music, poetry and activities.”
Over the weekend, more than 20 musicians and bands will perform at the festival, including Lauren Housley, Harriet Rose Grant, Kath Auto, Full Moon Frieda, Milo, Hot Tramp, Love to Sing Ladies and members of the Voice Academy.
Rawmarsh poet and new BBC Radio Sheffield presenter Sile Sibanda will be performing alongside poetry slam champion Camille McCawley.
There will also be a variety of family-friendly workshops and activities, including yoga and mindfulness, massage, counselling, crafts and magic.
Rotherham & Barnsley MIND will also be putting on craft activities that are based around boosting young children’s support mental health.
Ged added the event had been created after Mind’s statistics showed that in one year more than 20 people in every 100 experience suicidal thoughts, seven people in 100 self-harm and more than six people in 100 attempt suicide.
The festival is being delivered in partnership by SME Community Group and Rotherham & Barnsley Mind with funding from the National Lottery.
Its aim is to promote awareness of mental health and wellbeing in a fun and enjoyable environment.
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