Sir Norman Lamb sets £1m target to give young people a 'bright future'
PUBLISHED: 17:11 02 December 2019 | UPDATED: 17:11 02 December 2019
Jamie Honeywood Archant Norwich Norfolk
A mental health campaign has raised £100,000 in just four months and is now setting its target on a £1million for grass roots services in Norfolk.
Sir Norman Lamb said he has been left "overwhelmed" to the response since he announced the Norman Lamb Mental Health and Wellbeing Fund in August.
He launched the fund with the Norfolk Community Foundation with the aim to improve the lives of children, teenagers and young adults with learning difficulties, autism and mental health. Full details of where the cash will be targeted will be revealed in 2020.
The former care minister previously said intervening as early as possible was important to helping struggling families.
Sir Norman said: "The idea is if we can get it to £1m we can established an endowment fund and every year we can hand out tens of thousands of pounds to local grass root organisations in Norfolk who are doing valuable work.
"I always say to people this could affect any family across our county. Any family can be affected by mental ill health or discover a child or grandchild has autism or may have autism or have to wait two or three years for a diagnosis."
The former Norfolk North MP said it cannot be left to government and services needed to improve but stressed he did not want to fight statutory services.
Sir Norman added: "We have a stake in this, we all have an interest in sorting this out. We can complain about how awful everything is or we can do something about it and control our destiny.
"[We can] make sure children and teenagers in Norfolk have a bright future I think we have got it within ourselves as a county to make a difference and to change things around.
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"We cannot leave it to government because government won't help us. We need to sort things out within Norfolk.
"The money will be used effectively and will make a difference in our county."
The former care minister has his own personal experience after his eldest son was diagnosed with an obsessive compulsive disorder as a teenager.
He said the family were told there would be a six month wait but were able to pay for treatment, an option many cannot afford.
Sir Norman has also raised long waiting times for primary school children as young as six were waiting 18 months.
He said: "You cannot justify a situation where people in our circumstances can get help because they can pay, but most other people are left waiting.
"I do not think that is morally justifiable, it made me very driven to fight for change."
On Tuesday, his wife Mary will host a fundraiser for the fund in their Norwich home.
The campaigner is encouraging businesses with young employees searching for a charity of the year to consider the fund.
To find out more or to donate visit the wellbeing fund's page here.