New mayor will campaign for mental health charity

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Truro’s new mayor, councillor Steven Webb, second from the left, with mayoress and consort Kember, his daughter, Dean Roger Bush, councillor Bert Biscoe and his wife Sue at the cathedral for the mayor making. PICTURE: PAUL WILLIAMS

26th May 2021

By Juliet Lunam

Adolescent mental health charity The Invictus Trust has been chosen as the new Truro Mayor’s charity for his year in office.

Councillor Steven Webb was elected mayor at a ceremony last week, with Cllr Karlene Stokes as his deputy, and his daughter, Kember Webb, as mayoress.

Cllr Webb grew up on a smallholding near Goonhavern and moved to Truro when he was nine with his mother and older sister. They eventually settled into a council house at Moresk, where Cllr Webb still lives today.

He attended Penair School, and sixth form – then in 1991, he broke his neck, diving into a swimming pool.

After 12 months in rehabilitation at Salisbury, he came home and tried to reclaim his teenage years with lots of partying – despite being paralysed, which he said made his dancing stiffer.

Shortly after his 40th birthday his wheelchair ground to a halt on Pydar Street and Cllr Webb said that with no money to repair it, this felt like the last straw – and he broke down in tears.

A security guard walked over, squeezed his shoulder, and without saying a word, let him know everything was OK.

At that point Cllr Webb said he started to rebuild his life, and what became abundantly clear to him was the feeling that his life was not about him but helping others.

A couple of years later he stood for council.

Cllr Webb is severely paralysed and dyslexic but said that he was keen to tell people they can still do anything they set their mind to. During the mayor making, Cllr Webb set out some of his plans for his mayoral year and thanked outgoing mayor Cllr Bert Biscoe.

He said: “We need to continue to reduce our carbon footprint, be held accountable and lead by example as the city of Cornwall. We also need to address issues of homelessness and anti-social behaviour and create inclusive healthier streets for everybody to enjoy which don’t hinder any groups or businesses.”

Both mayor Webb and Cllr Biscoe spoke about plans to help Truro’s youth and finding ways of tackling issues which have arisen from the pandemic including anti-social behaviour and education opportunities.

The new mayor said: “I don’t have all the answers and as a council I hope we can make real advances on these things. I am passionate about mental health, and making sure Truro is a place for everybody to enjoy. I recognise I cannot change the world, and also running too fast is not the answer. Motivation, enthusiasm and passion with restraint and wisdom is what we need to navigate these next four years.”

With youth and mental health in mind, Cllr Webb announced his new charity would be The Invictus Trust.

The charity was set up in 2011 and is dedicated to the memory of Truro teenager, Ben Cowburn who took his own life in 2010. The charity’s aim is to raise awareness of adolescent mental health in Cornwall, to provide signposting to help those struggling, and to lobby for better mental health services and facilities for young people.

Invictus staff visit schools to give talks and have an online mental health portal young people can access for information and support.

They have also successfully campaigned for an U-18 mental health unit in Cornwall, through their Bring Back our Children film, and years of campaigning. The unit, in Bodmin, is called Sowenna.

They are now campaigning to extend the service to care for 13 to 25 year olds.

Invictus also supplies travel grants to families in Cornwall who have a child being cared for in a mental health hospital outside of Cornwall. Some of these families travel to Manchester, Kent, and Bristol regularly to see their child.

And fundraising helps equip mental health facilities such as a state of the art café at the Sowenna unit and a minibus to transport children and families back and forth on home visits.

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