Walk breaks down stigma
MENTAL health nurse Allyson Wilson knows first-hand just how difficult and lonely Christmas can be for the mentally ill and homeless on the Coffs Coast.
Assisting people with these struggles in her line of work, Allyson says she has been compelled to stage a seven-hour charity walk on Christmas Eve that will raise funds for the Coffs Harbour Soup Kitchen, run by the Uniting Church.
Accompanied by her partner James Dawson, Allyson will be joined by friends and family on different legs of the morning walk from Sawtell to Woolgoolga.
"There are a lot of stigmas and discrimination attached to severe mental illness, which often leads to homelessness," Allyson said.
"I personally have had family members suffer mental illness and through my patients I'm aware of how it often leads to isolation from friends and family and homelessness.
"People with severe mental illness are not only faced with a lifelong battle of emotional and psychological instability, their physical wellness is far more compromised than that of the general population."
Allyson said people with serious mental illness have mortality rates that are almost three times higher than that of the general population.
"These individuals remain the most marginalised in our community," she said.
"At Christmas, it's important these people's lives are not taken for granted and that while most people are enjoying Christmas with friends and family that we spare a thought for the homeless.
"This charity walk hopefully will raise awareness and some money for the Soup Kitchen to help make a difference on a local level."
"The Coffs Harbour Soup Kitchen provides a safe
non-judgemental environment for these individuals everyday."
The charity walk will set out from Split Cafe on Christmas Eve at 6am.
To get involved in the walk email Allyson: a.wilson.19 @hotmail.com.