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Essex Memorial: Families searching for Justice

On Saturday, 22 August, my colleague Nina Ali and I took an early train to Chelmsford to join Melanie Leahy and other bereaved families for a memorial service for their loved ones failed by Mental Health Services in Essex.

We were invited by Melanie whose son Matthew Leahy was found hanging within one week after being admitted as an inpatient at the Linden Centre, in Chelmsford in 2012.

Many families attended the moving Memorial which included speeches, music and a march through the streets of Chelmsford to raise awareness of Melanie’s call for a public inquiry.

As we both listened and spoke to families it became clear that they desperately need answers. They need to know what happened to their loved ones and just as importantly they are desperate to ensure that no other family has to suffer in the way that they have done.

The stories I heard that day were heart breaking and difficult to forget. What also became clear was that the memorial was not only about remembrance but also a rallying cry for accountability and change.

As we walked through Chelmsford holding banners and showing photos of those the families had lost, many local people wanted to know more and were shocked to hear about the failures of Essex’s Mental Health Services.

The day concluded with the release of three doves representing Truth, Justice and Accountability.

A petition, signed by almost 106,000, is now under consideration in Parliament. Nina and I are currently working with the families to raise awareness and bring about a public inquiry.

We must put the lack of accountability, transparency and learning by the mental health service providers, in Essex, under the public spotlight as that is the only way to bring about change.

#Fightingforwhatsright @hodgejonesallen @MelanieLeahy