'Winston Churchill' aka Stan Streather gathering a few looks in Shrewsbury today to promote Shropshire Mental Health Support relaunch
'Churchill' supports MHS rebrand, with a little help from his Black Dog!
You might have blinked a bit in Shrewsbury Town Square today to see our great war-time leader Winston Churchill in town, leaning against the flank of a beautiful white, classic Jaguar - and helping to promote the rebranding of Shropshire Mental Health Support, with the help of his 'Black Dog', of course.
Churchill impersonator Stan Streather was keen to support the service (formerly known as Shropshire Mind) as he has himself suffered depression, or the 'Black Dog' as Churchill called his despondency.
He said: "Shropshire Mental Health Support is a charity very close to my heart, as depression is something I have suffered with for many years.
"Lockdown has been more challenging, as performing is a big outlet for me and not to be doing that, or indeed knowing when I'd ever be doing it again, felt as though a big part of my life was missing. It made me question what I'm here for, what am I doing? It was a definite downward spiral and it's difficult to see a way out once you're in it."
Stan, who previously worked as a Quality and Environmental Health consultant in West London before working as a Winston Churchill look-alike, had been expecting to be in big demand last year, following the 75th anniversary of D-Day.
After Covid-19 took hold, all his bookings were cancelled: "Within two weeks, everything disappeared. It was going to be one of the high points of my life - after that, I really dived down into a place I didn't want to be in.
"At the beginning of lockdown, I used the charity's online group support sessions - I found them very useful when we were all wondering whether we were ever going to work again. I also had weekly calls with friends. I've discussed in talking therapies whether I would get rid of my 'Black Dog' if I could - but I say no - I want to be bigger than it, to control it. I have to recognise it as part of my personality."
Before arriving in Shrewsbury, Stan spent three days filming at Blenheim Palace to create a new visitor experience app for the Marlborough family. He's had some wonderful experiences as Winston, he says - including visiting Buckingham Palace for the Queen's 90th birthday celebrations in a 1943 Humber as part of a vehicle parade and being part of commemorations at Bayeux for the 65th anniversary of the D-Day landings in 2009.
Heather Ireland, manager of Shropshire Mental Health Support was delighted that Stan was helping to draw attention to the rebranding of the charity and its work.
She said: "We want people to know that we are there to support people who experience poor mental health and also their families and friends. We will still be providing the same person-centered support to the people of Shropshire and hope to build on our success to date.
"At the 54 week point since the first Covid-19 lockdown, we made more than 11,500 telephone support calls, with approximately 5,670 incoming calls answered. We also welcomed almost 1,020 visits to the Calmer Cafe in Abbey Foregate for the same period and almost 700 people into the Sanctuary."
Shropshire Sanctuary, a referral only service, was established in June 2017 and provides support at the time of need for people experiencing acute mental health crises.
The Calmer Cafe is a drop-in service specifically designed for people who are struggling with their mental health, who need a safe place to talk, receive support and be among others. Due to Covid-19 restrictions please call in advance to book your place - 01743 368647 (Mon, Weds, Fri, Sat - 6-10pm upstairs at Shropshire MHS, Suites 3&4, Observer House, Abbey Foregate, Shrewsbury SY2 6BL.
The office at Shropshire MHS is staffed from 9am until 5pm Monday to Friday. If you or a friend or loved one is struggling, please give them a ring. There’s always someone to talk to, who will listen with empathy - 01743 368647. Outside of these hours, please contact the Access team on 0300 124 0365.
Could you volunteer for Shropshire MHS? There are all kinds of ways you could get involved - currently they're looking for help digging their allotment! Contact firstname.lastname@example.org