Wymondham health campaigner needs your vote

Stephanie BrooksA Wymondham-based entrepreneur and writer, who campaigns to challenge stigma attached to people with mental health problems, needs your votes to be in with a shot of winning a national award.Stephanie Brooks

A Wymondham-based entrepreneur and writer, who campaigns to challenge stigma attached to people with mental health problems, needs your votes to be in with a shot of winning a national award.

Stuff Stigma, a think tank founded by Robert Ashton, has reached the semi-finals of The National Lottery Awards 2010, which celebrates the UK's favourite Lottery-funded projects.

From today until June 18, the public has the chance to vote for the projects it wishes to go through to the finals from each of the awards' seven categories.

Stuff Stigma is nominated in the Best Health Project category and, if it wins, it will receive a �2,000 cash prize to help continue its good work. The winners will be revealed during a star-studded broadcast on the BBC later this year.


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Mr Ashton, who lives with depression, launched Stuff Stigma in 2008. Now managed by the national mental health charity Rethink, it aims to banish negative attitudes in Norfolk and promote physical activity as a means to mental wellbeing.

The think tank has received �200,000 from the Big Lottery Fund, which has primarily paid for project manager Oz Osborne to oversee the programme for three years.

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Mr Ashton said: 'Lottery Funding has enabled us to take Stuff Stigma to the next level by employing a project manager, covering volunteer expenses and paying for many of our activities.

'We believe it is absolutely vital that we challenge negative attitudes towards mental health and without funding we wouldn't have been anywhere near as successful.

'We're really hoping the public gets behind us and votes as it would be fantastic to get national recognition for the work that we do and to raise further awareness of mental health issues.'

The campaigner has also been responsible for the introduction of the Living Library concept in Norfolk and pushed for the establishment of the Norfolk Community Foundation, of which he is a trustee.

Mr Ashton is also a well-known business author and is currently writing his 12th book called How to be a Social Entrepreneur.

He stepped out of his usual genre in 2008 by compiling the book I Know Someone Like That which detailed the lives of about 30 people living in Norfolk suffering from prejudice and had a foreword written by Stephen Fry, who has publicly spoken about his battle with bipolar disorder.

The writer has also just been revealed as The People newspaper's new voice on national mental health issues.

To vote for Stuff Stigma, call 0844 686 5951 or visit www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk/awards

For more information about Robert Ashton's work, visit www.robertashton.co.uk

Do you have a health story for the Evening News? Call reporter Sarah Hall on 01603 772426 or email sarah.hall2@archant.co.uk

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