Brighter Berkshire is an initiative which evolved through many connected conversations about the growing issues linked with mental health in Berkshire.

It builds on the desire by many to do something proactive and allows absolutely anyone to get involved.

There have been a number of volunteers involved in developing, shaping and working to drive the Brighter Berkshire initiative since it started. They are all Berkshire people who are driven to want to make a difference to people with mental health issues:

  • have lived experience of mental health problems
  • have cared for people with mental health problems
  • work or have worked in mental health services
  • are passionate about mental health and wellbeing

Alison Foster

Chair of Healthwatch West Berkshire and Founder of Brighter Berkshire. Alison has grown up surrounded by mental health issues, trained as a mental health nurse and is passionate about wanting to help the whole community to value mental health and support those with mental health issues.

Alice Kunjappy-Clifton

As Healthwatch Co-ordinator, Alice has taken a lead with the local community in West Berkshire in helping connect people, be a voice for people’s expressed issues through Healthwatch and feels strongly about mental health being a core element of wellbeing as a community we could collectively do more to improve.

Caroline Gratrix

Photographer and passionate about helping people with mental health issues, instrumental in connecting with the Arts in Reading. Caroline has also felt the impact of suicide in her family.

BB Keane

BB is a singer and a nurse who has a family background of mental health issues and is helping to lead the work on the song writing competition for secondary school and the evening event on 10th October, World Mental Health Day.


Works as part of the CAMHS team, Shamyla uses her own experience of mental health issues combined with some personal and professional development to give valuable and insightful talks to schools to teachers and students about mental health.

Linda Dobraszczyk

Public Health Project Manager, Trainer for MIND Cymru in Positive Maternal and Infant Relationships. Leading on early years work for Brighter Berkshire brings her personal experience of losing two members of her family to suicide and the immense knowledge and expertise gathered over the years through her work in this area.

Richard Candy

Poet and author of our many poems on the website and a puzzle maker. Richard supports many events speaking openly about his experience of mental health issues.

Lisa McNally

Consultant in Public Health, Bracknell Forest Council. Lisa has been instrumental in helping us connect with all Berkshire Councils to get involved and support activities in a number of ways.


Julie has helped us think in the main think about our evaluation of the initiative as she has a background in academia. She has helped develop an evaluation framework which we are very grateful for and recommended an independent evaluation which we are looking to see how we might achieve.

Anne-Marie Gawen

Founder of Unlock Your Wellbeing CIC and Wokingham lead for Brighter Berkshire. Anne-Marie speaks form experience and recovery and is passionate about supporting greater awareness of mental well-being.

Chris Downes

Mental Health Advocate and has supported many of our events.

Antonia Taylor

Antonia has and continues to support any ad hoc PR support and has been a powerful connection to many networks in Reading.

Volunteers working on BBC Radio Berkshire Show ‘Talking Heads’

Polly Falconer – Chair of Graft, with many years experience of working and living with mental health issues

Nicky Jerrome – Musician and previously a Councillor for Wokingham Borough Council and in 2015 stood down speaking publicly that her reasons for standing down were for her mental health.

Angela Ryan – Founder of Recovery in Mind co-host of  BBC Radio Berkshire monthly show. Angela speaks openly about her mental health experience and mostly about her recovery to help others to speak out and to know recovery is possible and powerful.



We are going to make a long term difference to mental health in our community through:
  • Building the largest countywide network of diverse people, ideas and voluntary commitment to come together to improve mental health
  • Demonstrating that by coming together as a local community, we can all improve mental health and wellbeing of our population.
  • Develop a central online place for anyone in Berkshire to connect on mental health and wellbeing.
We are embracing and helping the community desire to make a real difference for people who need mental health support locally. We think it is possible that by coming together in a variety of creative ways under this theme over a year, it can really make a big difference.

We also believe there is a huge range of things we can all do to help ourselves by looking after our mental health in the same way we do our physical health. Being able to live in a community which understands the vital importance of good mental health to every single one of us is essential to this being successful.

There are many resources throughout the community, which if mobilised and connected can make a massive impact across the county.



We will help bring people, ideas and activity together locally to:

  • raise the profile of mental health
  • reduce stigma and
  • improve the support, opportunities and choices available to people who need it

We will do this through encouraging, facilitating and supporting lots of open conversations around mental health, do creative things to engage a wider range of people in mental health than ever and also help increase funds to local mental health charities who provide so much early support for people who need it.

People can do as much or as little as they like and feel able. Just sharing information with your own personal networks on mental health will increase the conversation and help gradually reduce the awful stigma which can be attached to this issue. Many of the events we have worked on are led by people who are bringing their strengths and passion to help get people thinking and talking about mental health raise awareness of mental health related issues such as the comedy event, music events, art event etc. Is there an area you feel more comfortable in that we can help you to get people talking more about mental health?

One of the key elements of the initiative is our partnership with BBC Radio Berkshire who have a monthly radio show called ‘Talking Heads’ hosted by people with experience of mental health problems. This show has a theme each month and engages with the local community on these issues. Our intention is these shows will be a resource with information about mental health issues, recovery and where to get help.

Following the release of their recent Vital Signs report and the announcement that their 2017 focus is around mental health issues, we have partnered with Berkshire Community Foundation. We look forward to working with BCF to make a lasting difference and together we will help to deliver a legacy fund for local mental health charities.

We will share all the types of things happening which we hope will inspire others to participate to make the difference. We will work through pledges, events, information sharing and support by local media.



If you have an idea that you want to implement within your local area, would like to volunteer some of your time or would just like some more information you can use the form below to contact us.

You can find more ways to join the team on our Get Involved page.

Brighter Berkshire

Year of Mental Health 2017

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