Cornwall mum 'camps out' to visit mentally ill daughter

Image caption A new unit for teenage children with mental health problems is due to open in Cornwall

A mother is having to travel from Cornwall to Bristol every weekend and camp in a tent so she can see her mentally ill daughter in hospital.

The woman has also had to travel as far as Sheffield because there are no suitable facilities in Cornwall.

She said she hoped a new £11m mental health unit for teenage children will help people like her daughter.

Cornwall Foundation NHS Trust said it aimed to put a stop to families having to travel to visit their children.

The mother, who did not wish to be named, said: "It's always an emotional journey home.

"Just saying goodbye to my daughter and leaving her hundreds of miles away is so incredibly tough - it's exhausting physically and emotionally.

"She finds it hard knowing I'm going home without her. It never gets any easier."

Image caption The mother is now camping near Bristol every weekend to see her daughter

She has been driving up to Plymouth, Sheffield and now Bristol and back every weekend for the past seven months.

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She said the campsite in Bristol was "literally a field with a Portaloo".

"One weekend it was so cold I had two sleeping bags, a jumper and woolly hat on, and the sleeping bag tucked over my head, shivering, you know, I was freezing," she said.

"When I tell my friends they say they can't believe I'm having to live like this.

"And, you know, I can't either. But it's the only way I can be with my daughter."

Cornwall Foundation Trust, which oversees mental health services, said the 14-bed Sowenna accommodation unit for under-18s was due to accept its first patient on 9 September.

"Our aim is to stop families travelling thousands of miles every year to visit their children and to provide world-class facilities in Cornwall to improve recovery times," it said.

Trust chief executive Phil Confue admitted the mother's story was one that "breaks your heart".

He said: "It's not right that anyone should have to travel. We need to deliver these services locally."

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