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Sara’s invitation to the Palace

Sara Payne has devoted her career to helping children and families facing mental health issues and she will meet the young royals who have made a mission of mental health awareness.


Sara, who currently works for the fostering team in Barnardo’s Cymru in Cardiff, has been invited to Buckingham Palace for a reception with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, all of whom have become mental health champions.

Both princes have spoken recently about the impact of their mother’s early death and Sara was instrumental in setting up a Barnardo’s Cymru bereavement service for Cardiff to support children and families through their grief.

She said:

“The invitation came as a complete surprise. It is a reception for mental health professionals and coincides with World Mental Health Day on Tuesday (10th Oct).

“It is a real privilege to be invited. They have already done so much to help reduce the stigma associated with mental health and raise awareness of mental health issues. The most important thing is for children and young people to be able to share their thoughts and fears and develop ways of coping with worries.

“I think the princes understand some of their issues and have really helped young people reach out, develop their strengths and build resilience because they experienced loss and trauma themselves.

“Bereavement affects us all and we are still dealing with a huge inability in society to manage it in a healthy way.”

Sara, a registered psychiatric nurse, counsellor and mum of two lives in Caerphilly. Much of her work was done in her recent role as manager of Barnardo Cymru’s Emotional Health and Wellbeing Strategy funded by Cardiff Families First. The charity worked in partnership with six other providers on 14 mental health and wellbeing services.

Barnardo’s Cymru set up the Cardiff Bereavement Service, Bounce Back listening service for schools, Free2Bee trauma-informed service for asylum seekers and refugee families and the Vale of Glamorgan’s School-based Counselling Service.

Sara was also responsible for developing a child and adolescent to adult mental health services transition model in Cardiff. The model, designed to help young people with significant mental illnesses to overcome barriers which could prevent them living a normal life, was developed in consultation with children, young people and families.

It focused on providing outreach support workers to enable young people to access adult services such as housing and welfare, alongside education and training opportunities to help them to develop new skills and feel more confident and competent in being more socially active.

The model has been adopted by Welsh Government as good practice for all professionals working together to support young people through the transition from child to adult mental health services. It led to Barnardo’s gaining funding to provide First Episode Psychosis Service support workers to new local health board services, being set up in partnership between adult and child mental health services.

Young people will be encouraged to incorporate healthy eating, exercise and socialising into their lives and there will be support for parents and carers when needed.

Sarah Crawley, Director of Barnardo’s Cymru, said:

“Sara is an incredible advocate for children and young people suffering from the effects of mental health issues.

“With Barnardo’s she has led the way in developing support programmes and creating innovative and much needed resources, particularly for children suffering with their mental health progressing into adulthood, and families who have experienced bereavement. She fully deserves this recognition.”

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