Mental Health Charity Joins Preston Networking Group to Engage with Businesses

A Lancashire mental health charity has joined a Preston business networking group to help engage with businesses on mental health issues. Advocacy Focus provides Independent Mental Capacity Advocacy (IMCA) services for Lancashire under the Mental Capacity Act 2005. It aims to empower and protect people who lack the capacity to make decisions for themselves because of the way their mind or brain works or is affected, for example, by long term mental illness or a disability. The charity is joining Preston networking group BNI Diamond in order to engage with local businesses about its work. BNI Diamond is part of the world’s biggest referral organisation, Business Network International, and meets for breakfast every Wednesday at the Invincibles Lounge, Preston North End. Established over 30 years ago, BNI now has over 200,000 members in over 70 countries worldwide. It works by organising weekly networking meetings for groups of businesses. Groups use their combined network of contacts to find business opportunities and referrals for one another, to a specific brief that members outline at every meeting. Advocacy Focus Operations Director John Hutchison said: “Mental health affects every area of life including business, where the danger is mental health problems can go undiagnosed, or hidden, until it is too late. “Advocacy Focus provides advocates, who can help you to be heard if you have a health or social care problem. If you feel like nobody is hearing you, we can help by listening to you, helping you get the right information and resources so you can make choices. “We will help you to understand your rights and stand up for them, using plain English so you can understand what professionals are saying to you, whilst enabling you to convey your views, wishes and opinions. We help people build skills and confidence so that ultimately they can be their own advocate without any help.” Welcoming John to the group, BNI Diamond Chapter President Graham Campbell of Moose Media added: “Mental health is a massively important issue, so we are very pleased to be able to welcome Advocacy Focus to the group. “As well as making Advocacy Focus our nominated charity, to whom all funds generated through our charity work will now be donated, the greatest benefit is access to our business network. “The reason BNI stands out from other types of networking groups is that we have a proven structure that ensures we take a proactive approach to introducing members to the people they want to speak to. “Success also comes from ensuring we have the right kind of people in the group – those who are prepared to actively go the extra mile to develop opportunities and make valuable introductions for other members. We’re lucky to already have a great group of businesses, but are always looking for more, so visitors are always welcome to come along and see if it’s for them.” BNI Diamond is one of four chapters in the Preston and Chorley area, and a total of eleven in Lancashire. To enquire about available spaces in any of the chapters in Lancashire, go to