In 2014 we remembered the 1245 who didn't return home to Stockton.
In 2015 we remembered those who did return but were scarred for life. Those who suffered terrible mental illnesses. They turned to drink. They lived a living hell. And society didn’t know what to do. They weren’t talked about – they became a hidden, stigmatized community fighting ongoing battles with an enemy no one knew how to fight.
And 100 years on, people are still fighting their individual battles against addiction and mental illness, often alienated and alone, rarely embraced.
One Red Sunflower shone a light on the one in four of us will suffer from a mental illness in our lifetime. As children, as adults, as we grow old, one in four of us. To put that in perspective, in Stockton that amounts to 49,000 people.
So over one week in June a series of walks brought people together - people in recovery; people who help and people who want to show their support. Every day musicians and songwriters joined the walks which ended with communal singing and eating.
Each walk focused on the five ways to wellbeing – Connect, Learn, Be Active, Be Aware and Give. And ultimately, they celebrated the potential to be a community where ALL can understand what recovery is – different for each individual journey – regardless of what our destinations may be.