Emma Picton Jones, 28, is a Primary teacher and charity founder from Haverfordwest
To mark three decades of the IWA’s role in making Wales better, we decided to look forward to ‘the next thirty years’ by introducing some of the people who will be shaping ‘the Welsh agenda’ as the future unfolds. We have teamed up with PricewaterhouseCoopers and their #GreatWales campaign, which celebrates the ideas and people who contribute to the Wales of the future.
Emma Picton Jones, 28, is a Primary teacher and charity founder
My name is Emma Picton-Jones. I am 28 years old and was born in Haverfordwest and brought up in Clarbeston Road on a dairy farm. I am a primary school teacher in Haverfordwest and have two children. Mali is four and Trystan is two. I went to Trinity College, Carmarthen and spent time travelling following university before settling into full time employment. In 2011 I met my husband, Daniel.
My story really began on July 5th 2016 when Daniel took his own life. Although I knew he struggled with his mental health, what happened came as a huge shock to us all. It was difficult trying to understand how someone who seemingly had it all felt completely worthless and the person who adored his wife and children felt in his heart that they would be better off without him.
What followed in the coming days really felt like the most natural path to go down for me. In a lengthy note that Daniel had left he had written ‘you couldn’t help me but you could try helping someone else’. I took this statement in and decided that something positive had to come out of this awful situation. It was important that the children and I had something positive to focus on and what form this would take at this moment I wasn’t sure. I only knew that I needed to help others who were in the same place as Daniel and stop them taking the decision he did.
From this the DPJ Foundation was born. The foundation has grown from strength to strength. Raising £8,000 within the first two months and now with a total of £16,000 raised to date. The money has been raised through funeral donations and lots of fundraising events including teas, bungee jumps, iron man, mud run and many more! Most of which I try to take an active role in! We also have many more planned. We aim to support people in the rural communities of Wales especially those in agriculture as this sector carries the highest rate of suicide.
We have trained 38 people in mental health awareness who work within the agricultural sector, including vets and representatives from the NFU and FUW, who can use those tools to support those they work with in the community. The agricultural sector is highly isolated and it’s vital that the support reaches them.
We have a committee and are on the road to becoming a registered charity. We have a growing following on social media where we spread the word about mental health, educate and signpost people to the correct support. We aim to set up a counselling service this year to specifically support those in the agricultural community as well as looking at easing isolation in rural communities by working with Men’s Shed Cymru to create an innovative shed especially for the rural community.
I aim to talk about mental health as much as I can and reduce the stigma that surrounds it; I hope to encourage others to speak in a way that Daniel couldn’t. I have taken part in various radio programmes including The Jason Mohammad Show on BBC Wales, Farming Today on Radio 4 and Manglu on BBC Radio Cymru. I have also been part of the Wales Report with Huw Edwards and the Wales Today programme. Each time I talk about my story, I hope to encourage others to talk about what they are going through.
Most recently I have been awarded a Local Hero Inspiration Award by Radio Pembrokeshire. As part of my work with the Foundation, I go out and speak to community groups about mental health and my story. This includes Young Farmers Clubs, agricultural businesses, the WI, Rotary Clubs and many more.
The Foundation has turned a horrific experience into something positive which I hope will carry Daniels name forward in a positive and inspiring way. I want his legacy to be one that has helped and supported many people who felt the way he did. I also want my children to have an understanding of mental health and the importance of self-care and also an understanding of what their daddy went through. Although I don’t think any of us will ever fully understand, the Foundation and the hope that it has brought has certainly helped us move forward.
Tail: Each day, throughout the month of June, we are celebrating the exceptional people on the Next 30 list by publishing a short pen portrait here on Click on Wales, as well as raising their profile on Twitter using #IWAnext30 and #GreatWales to highlight the exciting contributions these people are making to Wales’ future.