Thursday, November 30, 2006

Dr Lynne Jones M.P. UK Shows Mental Health Social Inclusion Concerns Re: Letter To Nette Carder Executive Director.

UserWatch has learned that Dr Lynne Jones (Top Picture) the Birmingham Selly Oak UK. M.P. and Joint Chair of The All Party Mental Health Committee for Mental Health has shown written concern in November over the way Mental Health Services are treating the issue of Service Users interests at the Hawkesley Day Centre in south Birmingham as well as other Centres across the city .

She writes to Nette Carder(Bottom Picture) Executive Director of Operations & Social Care , Birmingham & Solhull Mental Health Trust , Trust Headquarters , Unit 1-B1. 50 Summerhill Road , Birmingham B1 3RD

"You will recall that you wrote to me on 5th June to explain about the process of developing existing day services, including those at Hawkesley Day Centre into a new Social Inclusion and Opportunity Service .

I have recently met with service users at Hawkesley Day Centre and it is obvious that there is not only anxiety about future proposals but concerns about the run down of valued services. As you may also be aware, I have received similar concerns with regard to other day centres including Albert Road Day Service (Perry Barr Constituency) and the Main Street Centre (Sparkbrook and Small Health Constituency)

With respect to Hawkesley, it would appear that the assurances given that services would not close until there were suitable alternatives in place has not been honoured. I was particularly concerned to learn that two members of staff have not been replaced and that the counsellor who helps people to ensure they are claiming their full entitlement to benefits only attends one day a week (compared with 5 days previously). This, and the emphasis on work with individuals has meant that at least one group has been disbanded. I was told that two people who attended a Monday morning group no longer attend the Centre and do not appear to be receiving any service . People complain that because groups were no longer functioning , they are being turned away from the Centre because there is inadequate staffing left on the site ..

Whilst I defended very strongly the concept of social inclusion and the need to break down the stigma associated with mental health problems, it was pointed out that this stigma will not be broken down overnight and there remains a need for what was described as "sanctuary" and a "stepping off point" from which people could be helped to "branch out" into the community . Instead people feel that services are being shut down at Hawkesley and they are being forced out into uncomfortable situations ..

Nearly everyone I spoke to felt a a sense of hopelessness at what was happening and mistrust towards the people that appeared to be making the decisions on their behalf . There is a perception that consultation is not consultation at all, merely a process of giving information. It is felt that the transformation that has been brought about in service users lives through their engagment with the services at Hawkesley Day Centre is undervalued by those in authority whereas, for service users, the Centre is "a godsend" and a place of comradeship and safety ..

[Paragraph Section Deleted Here For User Confidentiality]

In relation to service-user led services , people expressed the view that these would not work on a long term basis unless there was ongoing support. I am sure that it is intended that such support should be provided but , if so , it has not been spelt out to service users .

I would like to make the following suggestions :


The two vacant posts should be filled , accepting that the job descriptions will require some flexibility .


Ways should be found to showcase the new opportunities that could be made available to service users. This could involve groups visits to see facilities in operation or the attendance at Hawkesley by service-users who have benefitted from the "social inclusion agenda" .


An audit is undertaken of the services that Day Centre users were accessing at the start of 2006, and a comparison made with the current pattern of enagement. The results should be published (with appropriate removal of information that could identify individuals) and assurances given that follow up audits will be periodically undertaken to inform development of services. This should also apply at Albert Road and Main street


The keeping of adequate records of consultation outcomes so that appropriate scrutiny can take place following service changes ...


I would welcome the opportunity of meeting with Peter Davidson and other relevant decision makers to discuss the way forward . It would also be helpful if the Centre Manager could attend and possible one or two representatives of service users .

Finally I am enclosing copies of written representations that were handed me during my visit . For your information I did emphasise that the mental health budget was growing and that financial considerations were not the driver of changes in service configuration. Co-incidentally, just after our meeting , I received the enclosed letter from the Primary Care Trust about funding the mental health services and I will be passing a copy of this on to service user representatives .

Seperately , I have been informed that there has been a 33% increase over 2 years in the spending by the local authority on mental health services . No doubt, however, there is still much unmet need and any comments the Trust has in this regard would be gratefully received!

Your Sincerely

Lynne Jones M.P.


Sue Turner
Peter Davidson ..

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

North Birmingham Community Arts Secures Its Pitch

North Birmingham Community Arts is Mental Health User led and run. Nearly all of its membership has experienced MH services and some still do .

It secured its pitch to practice arts and create some kind of future at the 610 Community Centre in Kingstanding Birmingham by forking money out from its own purses. Its AGM is on 30th November 2006 at the 610.

The context of MH services has been changing with a lot of emphasis in parts of Birmingham on discouraging Users to use Day Centres. However it appears Users are taking a stand on their own - so UserWatch hears - and the Hawkesley Day Centre with an unfortunate "Top-Down" policy of change, not really guided by Users themselves has seen a bit of a rebellion at last because Users in the area have contacted MP Dr Lynne Jones and she is drawing a line with services to follow by making several recommendations to them - Userwatch will have more to say on this in the next article on these matters...

NBCA itself is partly borne out of a need to keep some control over what Users feel they can do in their own spaces whilst still feeling they have a legitimate right to link back to services and expect some input of support albeit very small ..It might be said that NBCA would have used space within the services themselves but according to the experience of some Users its not been facilitated very enthusiastically. Although at the Phoenix Centre in Harrison Rd Erdington , it appears the regime is relaxed and more supportive than some other Day Centres .

So NBCA has pushed to create safe autonomising space (something the services should have done) in the absence of a form of postive space enablement within the services themselves , and not without stress to all concerned ...This element of stress Userwatch is aware , has been shared across Birmingham by Users .

In the multi-layered dynamic of changing Day Services , a new ethos of "social inclusion" and a debt ridden Trust ( in 2005 - 6 ) looking for ways to ration staff and not employ a full quota of them, the changing services have been pushing Users out and away from them - There have been some victims of stress and ill health because of this .

The partial backlash is evolving to this services paradoxality of stressing Users which often misses the point that many Users (longer term) need special ways to use services without the services trying to disinvent elements of dependency that are perfectly legitimate by virtue of proper recognition of genuine mind and deep personality difference from the more "normal" "functionality" that can go to work and sustain jobs - its that , that just needs supporting more thoughtfully ... Real psychological difference ...

Anything else is a lack of recognition dressed up inside new "social inclusion ideologies" meant to fit everyone regardless of their REAL differences..


Monday, November 27, 2006

The Tragedies Of Justin Murphy Died Aged 13 & Darren Bardsley

A written commentary given to the UserWatch correspondent "PatientGuard" :

"I live in the working class locality where Justin Murphy aged 13 was killed by a hit and run driver who was apparently on Heroin...My partner goes to the Church where so many have been upset and have showed emotional solidarity with the family of the dead child . I've done a picture of sorts as an artist (left) - I feel so moved .

With a history of stealing cars Darren Bardsley aged 32 , father of two kiddies , in the same locality was caught and was sentenced just recently to 8 years .. He had 13 previous convictions....

I cannot join in the usual condemnation . I just can't . I'll tell you why .. I've monitored in a role at statutory level the mental health outcomes and services in North Birmingham UK I have also seen first hand the incredibly harsh and deprived way some kids are brought up to become absolute misfits ....

I've seen a growth in this country of the middle classes and their chances and wealth and their hand wringing often bullshit rationed policies that miss the localities . Ours is one of them - we have poor services .

A policemen nationally put forward the view that its cheaper to supply methadone every year to people dependent on Heroin and more rehab practices because addicts are costing on average £48000 per annum in the UK in lost property to the community ..Holland and the Swiss are leaders in this thinking with successful practice .

I have a razor eye about this and what is true is we had better get real about treating society's misfits because the costs are too high if they are imprisoned or on the loose . Pragmatism says we help them therapeutically find another way of life or face the tragedies to come and the cycle of our own impotent social angers.

God Bless Justine Murphy Aged 13 , The two young children and partner of Darren Bardsley and Darren himself for being who he is that has to alter .. "

See the story about Justin Murphy : HERE

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Horns Of Dilemma In Coventry (£3 a day Cuts Proposals)

Userwatch asks : What is a council to do in Coventry especially when its run by Tories and there are cuts to make . We continue the COVENTRY CUTS STORY HERE..

So off to the officers you go and ask them to identify where cuts in services can be made and mixed within social inclusion New Labour independence-loving social logics ..

Everyone does their job ..

And gets paid ..

After all they are the managers...

And the paid Councillors who happen to be the opposition party really do want "Social Inclusion" a Labour social-logic equation to take hold in Coventry .. Ofcourse they do ....

Yes , they would not wish it to fail would they in a complex but inverted policy of undermining it by overapplication of it too swiftly hoping it might rub off onto the Govt ? Oh . what are we on about , that's too machiavellian......Although the Govt does appear rather Tory anyway and anti working-class .....Sorry we mean "Workless Class"

Yet the proposals to cut £3 a day , to in the main inarticulate people , gets put forward so lets have a look at the consultation story at CROW recycling in Coventry partly supported by Social Care services where the savings of £3k a year were identified in amongst a broad attempt to cut 2 million in Coventry services costs ..

Userwatch is in receipt of the following time line for consultation at CROW recycling :

It is reported to us that on the 24th October a letter was received from the Senior Learning Disabilities manager (SEE HERE FOR SOME OF THE TEAM) about the council's intentions to "modernise" - (the new word for "cuts" )

Service Users at CROW recycling got the letter on the 26th October ..

A meeting for parents and carers was then arranged on the 27th October

By the 31st the full Council Cabinet put for the proposals for cuts which included £3 a day for Users at CROW recycling

Its is estimated that this was about 5 working days .....

Userwatch thinks this part of the process was rushed and should have involved more talks at the Centre level with Users and Carers ......

Userwatch has received information about requests to understand the consultation processes at Coventry :

From a source writing to Coventry Services :

"1) What consultation took place with service users and their carers prior to the report to Cabinet on 31 October 06?

Response: We are consulting now - no decisions have yet been taken – the outcomes of the consultation will be feedback to Cabinet on 12 December 2006.

2) What exactly is the PCT's role in the provision of Coventry's LD service?

Response: Coventry Teaching PCT is now a commissioner of services. Specialist Learning Disability Mental Health services is now part of the Coventry & Warwickshire Partnership Trust.

Health Community Learning Disability services remains as part of Coventry Teaching PCT pending further service developments. The service is not a single integrated health and social care service. It is only partially integrated – e.g. social workers/nurses in community learning disabilities team. There are, however, Joint commissioning arrangements.

3) Is there a Section 31 agreement between Coventry City Council and Coventry Teaching Primary Care Trust for Learning Disability services?

Response: There is a Section 31 Agreement in relation to Learning Disabilities Development Fund – this is a small budget for development – it is not a commissioning or service budget.

4) To what extent does the close working on Learning Disability between Coventry
City Council and Coventry Teaching Primary Care Trust imply a "section 11" Health and Social Care Act duty to consult demonstrably?

Response: We do not consider that there is a Section 11 requirement to consult demonstrably. That said, we are currently consulting and the outcomes of those consultations will be reported through a transparent democratic process. We also take the view that LAs have better track record in consultating on change and that a Section 11 duty (or similar directive) is not required.

5) Could you explain the nature of the involvement of the PCT with CROW ( an NHS body )

Response: CROW is a charitable organisation with a range of funding streams. The Council contracts with it for work based training as outlined in the Cabinet Report . There is no PCT involvement with CROW.

6) Would you please inform what Social Cares involvement is with the PCT broadly
and on the 'Coventry Partnership Board'

Response: There are extensive partnership arrangements with the primary Care Trust from the Coventry Partnership at a strategic city level to joint working in specific social care areas. There are partnership boards for Older People, Mental Health, Learning Disabilities, Children and Young People and Physical and Sensory Impairment. Further information can be gained from the Coventry City Council Website where there are links to the Coventry Partnership and a number of the other partnerships .. "

The asking of these questions also provoked another rather astonishing response which was added as this in a seperate letter Userwatch has seen :

"Please note that most of the information that you request is owned by the Coventry City Council and subject to copyright protection. Under the Re-Use of Public Sector Information 2005 Regulations you are free to use this information for your own use or for the purposes of news reporting. However, any other type of re-use under the Regulations, for example; publication of the information or circulation to the public, will require permission of the copyright owner and may be subject to terms and conditions. For documents where the copyright does not belong to Coventry City Council you will need to apply separately to the copyright holder.

If you wish to apply to reuse the information you have requested or have any other issues
relating to this request please do not hesitate to contact me.

If you are unhappy with the way the Coventry City Council has handled your request, you may ask for an internal review. Please contact the Information Governance Team, who will arrange an internal review of your case. "

Hmmmmm.....A Review ? Userwatch senses more horns and angle mangles in that process ...Perhaps dungeons and torture still exist in Coventry ? Ahhh bureacracy is so lovely isn't it ?

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The Adult Survivors Sexual Abuse Forum Meeting In Wolverhampton

Userwatch hears the Sexual Abuse conference meeting for adult survivors on Thursday November 9th went well in Wolverhampton and aproximately 55 people attended it .

Jackie Sharrat sexual abuse co-ordinator at the Wolverhampton PCT has produced a thoughtful booklet ( See story HERE ) on how professionals like dentists , doctors, hairdressers and opticians can be helped to be more sensitive to adults who are easily triggered into old trauma feelings . Userwatch will be appraising this booklet when it receives a copy ..

Userwatch can report that it has a copy of a statement from Michele Elliot Director of Kidscape the charity that is involved in prevention of abuse and bullying of Children. Michele edited a book in the past which dealt with issues suffered by adult survivors :

Michele says of Jackie Sharrat's ideas :

"I welcome Jackie's Initiative and only wish there were more like it throughout the country . Adult survivors are a much neglected group and there are so many issues that continue to arise that support is vital . Well done Jackie ! "

Userwatch has heard from several cases in Birmingham of adult survivors of child abuse getting no therapy treatment at all appropriate to helping them with their emotional pain . So its hats off to Wolverhampton for raising the issue meanwhile in Birmingham we await independent Users-reports of useful experiences of therapy for resolving long term emotional pain caused by child abuses of various sorts ..

Monday, November 13, 2006

Councillors To Question "Screwtiny" Cabinet Member

UserWatch keen to learn lessons that can be transfered to Birmingham and Solihull interested Service Users is keeping in touch with the story developing in nearby Coventry where £3 a day cuts by the Council Cabinet have been proposed on Learning Disability Service Users of the CROW recycling facility.

The paltry £3 a day represents what Users can earn as a benefit "disregard" without their benefits being affected.

UserWatch has received an email tonight regarding the Coventry situation from one of the Surrey Campaigners Mr Des Curley , who has been campaigning in a similar situation for a better deal for Service Users who had their £3 a day taken from them in Surrey and Borders Partnership Mental Health Trust only for it to be re-instated by the pressure brought by the campaign.

From that email Councillors of the Labour group in Coventry look set to question the Cabinet member involved in the proposals to cut the £3 a day payment to Service Users at the CROW facility ..

The email to Userwatch reads :

Dear Mr. Curley,

Thank you for your recent e-mail regarding the ceasation of the £15 per week disregard to people with learning difficulties.

I would like to inform you that all members of the Labour Group of Councillors voted against this proposal at the meeting of full Council. In addition to this we have "called in " the item and insisted that the Cabinet Member appear before Scrutiny Co-ordination Committee to answer questions and account for the decision. The meeting will be held at 1-00p.m. on Wednesday 22nd. November and will be held in public, which means that yourself and anyone else that is interested can attend and listen to the debate.

I hope that interested parties do their best to attend.

Yours sincerely,

John Mutton,

Leader of the Labour Group.

See also Coverage of the story at :

Surrey & Borders Campaign

Mandy's Lifeboat News


Thursday, November 09, 2006

Save Our Kwids In Coventry

In a similar theme as the Surrey & Borders Partnerships Mental Health Trust Campaign to reinstate Learning Disability Service Users £3 a day pay , Birmingham & Solihull Mental Health UserWatch notes that in nearby Coventry recently according to Coventry Telegraph reporter Dayle Crutchlow the Council Social Care Services there have cut £3 a day to service users with learning disability who are working at a paper recycling charity enterprise ..

The charity is called CROW and the Director there is Barbara Cowling.

UserWatch has learned from Jeremy Bryce of UkSurvivor's post there that concerned Service Users are already looking deeper into this situation and are asking whether or not Coventry Service Users are being sufficiently consulted before changes and alterations are made to their service delivery levels

UserWatch is aware of a developing theme across the UK and in Birmingham in which services are changing themselves without appropriate and recorded input by Service Users themselves . They appear to be sliding around in an unjoined up arena of little protection for Service Users consultation rights. There appears to be little check and balance on this practice evidenced by a lack of independent Service Users organisations doing some stronger representation on these matters . PPI forums are increasingly weakened too by a limited life and a poor political will to have made them stronger in mental health since "reform" is prized more greatly by Government even though it creates distress amongst some Service Users .

Local passification and compromise of what groups of Service Users get exactly what resources from Trusts appears to be one weakening factor for Independence but the same could be said for any statutory service and Social Care Services too that have the controlling purse strings over Service Users and any of their groups. Its clear Service Users must become more financially independent and less controlled by services to fully have their own voices .

Joan Mulcaster of the Croydon Advertiser first alerted the public to the Surrey situation of Epsom Garden Centre run by the SAPB Trust who took away the £3 a day from those Service Users. It appears we have some patch repetition in Coventry . Will a wider outbreak happen ? Has anyone got any more stories like this ?


Monday, November 06, 2006

Well Done Jackie Sharratt Wolverhampton PCT Mental Health Services

Sexual Abuse Forum Meeting



(UserWatch supports these kind of initiatives below and hopes they expand)

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Making health services more sensitive to the needs of adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse is the theme of a conference in Wolverhampton next month put on by Wolverhampton PCT Trust

The conference – ‘Sensitive practice for adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse’ on Thursday, November 9 –has been organised by the city’s sexual abuse forum following comments from clients that their childhood experiences can sometimes make them feel nervous about attending medical appointments.

Jackie Sharratt, sexual abuse specialist for Wolverhampton City Primary Care Trust and chair of the forum, said: “For adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse appointments with a doctor, dentist, optician, midwife or even a hairdresser may trigger traumatic memories and this, in turn, may lead them to avoid appointments and neglect their health. The conference will look at how services can be more sensitive to the needs of these clients.”

David Bate, from Taylor Biddle Opticians, and consultant midwife Kathryn Gutteridge will give presentations on steps services can take to put clients at ease. David said: “If clients are nervous or apprehensive it is up to us as practitioners to make their appointment as comfortable as possible. Simple things such as leaving the door of the examination room open, or asking a friend to come into the room with the client can make all the difference.”

New booklets - for clients on what to expect at an appointment and for practitioners on how to make appointments less stressful – will be launched at the event.

The conference takes place at Bantock House, Bantock Park, Wolverhampton, 10am-4pm. It is free for service users, survivors of childhood sexual abuse or the unwaged but costs £25 for staff from statutory and voluntary sector organisations. To book a place contact Di Drew on 01902 328978.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Comic Relief Grants For Local Groups - Who Gets The Information First ?

To see this image (left) larger please click on it and your browser should enlarge it

There has been some criticism of the grouping of organisations that met in Birmingham in March 2006 in order to set up a national network of networks of Service User organisations

The meeting was hosted by Together (a charity) and other organisational heads or operatives joined in to try to steer the 129 people claiming to be mainly MH service users into an agreed position to form funding for a national group.

Funding has been pursued from Comic Relief to the tune of 500K over 5 years . There have been complaints to Comic Relief however that this sum represents a lost opportunity of 100 groups each getting the chance to set up from the 5k local offer outlined in Comic Relief's promotional flyer from which the image (left) was taken.

UserWatch has learned that it appears NIMHE were sent this information some time ago but Users in Birmingham were not aware of it through the local Trust and it does not appear to have been bulletined out in flyers created by the Trust financed "User-Voice" . West Mids NIMHE moved to Birmingham earlier in 2006 and actually work in the same building - the Uffculmne Centre. The centre is part of the local Trust..

For further information from Comic Relief phone : 0207 820 5555

Registered Charity : 326568