Time to Change, England’s biggest mental health anti-stigma campaign, is bringing a huge pop–up village to the streets of Blackpool.

Cllr Ivan Taylor, Cabinet Member for Health and Well-being and a Lay Member of Blackpool CCG’s Governing Body said: “This is a huge triumph for the town as it’s the first Time to Change pop-up village that has  come to Lancashire.” 

Time to Change, England’s biggest mental health anti-stigma campaign, is bringing a huge pop–up village to the streets of Blackpool on Friday 23 August.

The day will kick off at 10:30am with a Chinese dragon show from the Blackpool Unicorns, a performance from salsa band Poco Loco, and a huge flash mob coordinated by Urban Dance, as well as performances from local singers, bands and choir groups.

Emma Louise Jackson, runner-up on The Voice, will be compering throughout the day which sees a range of different free workshops and activities for all the family including a workshop on dreams delivered by the Grundy Art Gallery.

A pop-up cinema will show short films and adverts from Time to Change and there will also be a post office which will include an interactive community notice board. Village goers will be asked to post their thoughts on the notice board on how mental health discrimination can be tackled to allow Time to Change to learn directly from the local community.

Keep an eye out for the fire eaters and stilt walkers who will be wandering around the town on the day to encourage people to pop along to the village.

All of the areas of the pop-up village have all been specially designed so that people without mental health problems can enjoy the activities and learn more about mental health from people with a personal experience. Evidence suggests that this kind of social contact is one of the most effective ways of breaking down stigma and improving attitudes.

Cllr Ivan Taylor, Cabinet Member for Health and Well-being, said: “This is a huge triumph for the town as it’s the first Time to Change pop-up village that has come to Lancashire.

“Mental health problems affect many people in Blackpool and stigma and discrimination is sadly a very real issue. We want to tackle this and feel that this event, which encourages social contact between people that do have mental health problems and people that don’t, is a fantastic way of dispelling the stigma.”

To ensure the village provides support and information for people with mental health problems, a number of other mental health organisations and charities, including Blackpool Council’s Public Health team, Richmond Fellowship and Connect, will run the surgery where information on local and national services will be available.

Karen Machin, Time to Change regional coordinator for the North West, said: “We’ve been really amazed by the enthusiasm of so many different organisations in Blackpool, all wanting to get involved in this event to challenge stigma and discrimination. It’s great to see everyone working so well together and I’m sure it’ll make for an exciting and successful day.”

Darren Bee, Richmond Fellowship’s community development worker, said: “After working with minority communities in Blackpool we have raised awareness of the stigma surrounding mental health. We continue to work with the community to do so.”

The free event will run from 10am – 3:30pm at St John’s Square in Blackpool’s town centre.

Time to Change is England’s most ambitious programme to end the stigma and discrimination faced by people with mental health problems. The programme is run by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, and funded by the Department of Health, Comic Relief and Big Lottery Fund. For more information go to www.time-to-change.org.uk