The driving force behind Lifting The Blues (LTB), is Dave Jones, and the inspiration for LTB derives from Dave’s longstanding support for local charities, through operating his Blues Club called Vonnies.
Vonnies was formed in 2003, in memory of Dave’s late wife Yvonne (Vonnie). It was originally intended as a one-off blues gig designed to raise money for the ‘Seven Springs Adventure Playground’ in Gloucestershire, which provides high quality adventure play and respite care to children with disabilities and special needs.
That first event was planned with 4 core values:
- The aim to support Gloucestershire charities
- The music had to be Blues based
- The venue needed to echo a 60’s blues club
- The performers had to enjoy it as much as the audience.
Using these values, Vonnies has developed over the last 12 years to the point where it now organises regular, very popular, blues gigs at an established venue – during which time it has raised and donated over £100,000 to local charities in Gloucestershire.
Throughout the time since his wife’s untimely death, Dave has suffered regular bouts of mental illness and, because of these experiences, and his research into mental illness, Dave wanted to also provide support, specifically to the field of mental health.
So, in 2009, after his retirement as a Local Authority Head of Planning, as well as continuing to develop Vonnies, Dave began doing voluntary work at Headway – which is a local charity providing essential services across Gloucestershire for people with acquired brain injuries, their partners, families, friends and carers.
..and also as a volunteer helper at GEAR – which is a night shelter for homeless people in Gloucestershire.
.. and also working as a trustee of the Independence Trust – which is a charity providing support for people with severe and enduring mental health issues living in Gloucestershire.
Over the years, in all these roles, Dave was able to speak at length with many people suffering from mental illness, and with their loved ones and carers, as well as with many health professionals working in this field – and it became clear to him that the field of mental health needed as much support as possible.
So, on 2nd July 2015, Dave got together a small group of Vonnies, friends and supporters – a consultant psychiatrist, two loved ones of people suffering from mental illness, a dementia carer, and a professional carer.
This group decided to form a charity whose aim would be to support the loved ones and carers of people suffering from mental illness in Gloucestershire, and also to help de-stigmatise mental illness in the County.
So, a great deal of research was done, many friends have since volunteered their time, as well as their professional management, financial, clinical, and legal expertise, and by December 2015/January 2016, Lifting The Blues is now registered as a company limited by guarantee, and Charitable Status is being sought.
Our mission statement is:
“Through music, (a) to provide support and information to the loved ones and carers of people with mental illness within Gloucestershire, and (b) to carry out work within local communities in Gloucestershire to de-stigmatise mental illness.”