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Scheme launched after disappearance of Sophie Smith reminded woman of her own husband going missing

PUBLISHED: 18:07 04 February 2018 | UPDATED: 21:58 04 February 2018

Emma Oldershaw has launched a scheme to provide badges to help people who are happy to be approached by others suffering with poor mental health. Picture: Ian Burt

Emma Oldershaw has launched a scheme to provide badges to help people who are happy to be approached by others suffering with poor mental health. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant 2018

A woman who was reminded of the disappearance of her own husband when a Gorleston student went missing on Boxing Day has launched a scheme to help those struggling with mental ill health.

Emma Oldershaw has launched a scheme to provide badges to help people who are happy to be approached by others suffering with poor mental health. Picture: Ian Burt Emma Oldershaw has launched a scheme to provide badges to help people who are happy to be approached by others suffering with poor mental health. Picture: Ian Burt

Emma Oldershaw, who lives in Pedham Road, Blofield Heath, was a new mother to daughter Sophia when her husband, Paul, walked out of their home in 2016.

Mrs Oldershaw, a property lawyer, said: “It was when my little girl was just over a month old, my husband walked out of the house and would not come back, he jumped in a taxi and went.”

The 38-year-old said Mr Oldershaw, 39, also a property lawyer, had been struggling with his mental health and she had post-natal depression at the time.

“Luckily, he was found by the police but he was gone all night,” Mrs Oldershaw said. “They phoned me about 7am to say they’d found him in the middle of Norwich just walking and then he’d fallen asleep by the castle. I was fearing this was it and that he wouldn’t come back.

Emma Oldershaw has launched a scheme to provide badges to help people who are happy to be approached by others suffering with poor mental health. Picture: Ian Burt Emma Oldershaw has launched a scheme to provide badges to help people who are happy to be approached by others suffering with poor mental health. Picture: Ian Burt

“And then on Boxing Day we heard about Sophie Smith, the young lady from Gorleston who walked out of her house, I was in tears, it brought it all back to me.”

Miss Smith, 21, left her home in Gorleston wearing just a vest and shorts. She was last seen on CCTV running towards the beach around 3am and had been suffering from severe anxiety and depression.

Now, Mrs Oldershaw has started a drive to provide badges people can wear to let others know they can talk to them if they need help.

“After Christmas I was thinking about it and I came up with the idea of the badges, similar to the Dementia Friends ones,” she said.

“People find it hard to talk - men particularly, but this way they will know someone is approachable.”

The badges, which cost £3, have already been a success and along with extra donations Mrs Oldershaw has raised more than £60 so far for Norwich and Central Norfolk Mind.

“We’re underfunded for mental health services in this area, so I want to keep the funding in East Anglia,” she added.

• To find out more about the scheme, or to order a badge, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/emma-oldershaw1

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