Thursday, January 10, 2008

Mental Health Service User's Voice Project -The Woodview Case 55 Thousand Spent Where Did It Go ?

Woodview Project 2008 10th Jan (x)

[LATE NOTE BY USERWATCH July 2008 : It appears our pressure to perform properly was successful here because the website "Speak Out" was switched back on recently around about the time that the CEO Sue Turner with a cat cream smile was seen on TV after the BBC gave some airtime to the project and Frank Bruno was at the Woodview Community Centre ...Impressions impressions impressions .. ahhhhhh ... The report below however remains relevant to the time it was written]

Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Trust became involved with a project at the Woodview Community Centre in Birmingham which claimed it was recording some Mental Health Service Users history . First called "Free and Quiet Minds" it was later renamed "Speak Out" . NIMHE as the UserWatch team recall at one point claimed they might use it as a basis for knowledge about the effects of mental health services on BME groups in Birmingham.

Concerns have been passed to UserWatch about this project which took 50k of Heritage Lottery funding plus 5k from the BSMH Trust . The website this project created has disappeared for some time and where is the content now ?

The project claimed it was having an exhibition but we have heard of Service Users who were never contacted about any exhibition. Was there a exhibition that was announced ? We are not sure . Was there a quiet one in the background somewhere and it squibbed off rather like the website did ?

Anyone interested ? ..........Well here's where the website was (See OUR 22nd Sept 2008 Note below)

[Late Addition 22nd Sept 2008 : The Website disappeared for a long time - then it reappeared re-jigged this year - probably by the Trust who rescued its messy format . They did this in time to promote it with a managed appearance by Frank Bruno - this was cynical image-management and was known about at the CEO level of Trust . Sue Turner turned up at the Frank Bruno appearance filmed by the BBC and he knew nothing about the real position of dissatisfied and marginalised Users that we heard from - so it goes - that is the truth of the manipulative Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust ]

People might like to ask a Cultural Diversity Director of the Birmingham And Solihull Mental Health Trust, a Ms Lackvhir Rhellon, what exactly happened and why the Trust could not support the website for more than a year. Where did its 5k go ? On what ? The project was supposed to give Black Service Users as well as Asians and others a voice .

All information about the project has disappeared from any Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Trust references apart from Positive Mental Health Group which is allied to and subsidised by BSMHT

In fact we have had part of the text of some minutes below sent to us by a University to show the Speak Out Project existed!

"LSC/NIACE/NIMHE (part of CSIP) Partnership –

Access to education of people with mental health difficulties

West Midlands Network Meeting


University of Birmingham

17th January 2007

10.00 am – 3.00 pm

(other sections extracted )

  1. Any other Business

    • ‘Speak Out’ Birmingham Mental Health history project. Pam Hughes will give a presentation at the next meeting but information can be seen on
    • Service users/learners groups across the network maybe developed and any organisations trying to include the learner can contact Lesley to enable her to collate interested parties."

The UserWatch team are hearing some Users could not easily become involved in this project . We'll come back to this story ...In fact we'll speak out in the spirit of the disappeared project and disappeared voices.....Users know what its like to be disappeared at the Trust's convenient policy whim though. Voices of Users are suppressed inside conveneint mechanisms its what we know. We also hear that some Users wanted to speak out about police and staff violence on them.

We wonder what Soozie Turner the Chief Executive Voice Broker would say ... She would never brush these voices away surely , we just cannot believe it .. Nooooo dont even think it ......Nooooo... Well Soozie WHERE ARE THE VOICES ON THE WEBSITE THAT WERE REPORTEDLY SUPPOSED TO HAVE LASTED FIVE YEARS?

Speak Out

Woodview Project 2008 10th Jan (iii)

"Speak Out! Mental Health History Project originated with Woodview Community Association with the proposals they put to the national lottery fund about January 2006. Support (and some funding) was gathered from the Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Trust, particularly from its diversity directorate (which includes services to black and ethnic minority communities in Birmingham).

Pete Bloomer started work as coordinator in early July 2006. His contract ends in July 2007.

The project includes using service users/survivors as volunteers, as well as employing (paying) users/survivors as assistants. It aims that a high proportion of the volunteers should be afro-caribbean.

A major aim is to produce an exhibition. This exhibition will be at Woodview Community Association (or a nearby library?) for its first three months, from May 2007, and then tour venues for another twenty one months.

The other major aim is to put the project's work on a website. The website will remain available at least for five years with the provision to update it and for it to grow.

Volunteers and assistants are being trained in recording oral history interviews, doing research using library resources and mental health awareness.

The discipline of Oral History provides a method to record the experience of individuals and to build a picture of the the general viewpoint of people on the mental health services.

Speak Out has spoken to several service user groups, at day-centres and User Voice Forums. They have done a number of stalls at mental health events in Birmingham. The most successful stall was at the World Mental Health Day event in Birmingham organised by the Positive Mental Health Group, where they distributed over 1,000 leaflets and got over 60 contacts. Altogether, they have distributed over 5,000 leaflets, have a mailing list of around 250 and, via Birmingham Mental Health Trust, have sent out communications to over 3,000 workers.

The messages of the project should be to begin the process of recording and writing a history of people's experience of mental health in Birmingham - That our history is important - That services should be based on the experiences and wishes of service users - That service providers should take note of our experiences and seek to improve services - That there has been a variety of approaches to service provision which might be learned from in terms of service users/survivors experiences of them. That in particular the experience of the Black community as service users; has been too harsh and punitive, (tarnished as it is by racism) and that its contribution to service provision as a large component of the workforce has been under valued and not considered important enough by those planning service provision.

Boards planned for Birmingham Exhibition

Two boards with a timeline of the twentieth century, legislation and major events affecting mental health charted beside the timeline. Specifically charting changes in mental health services in Birmingham. [See, for example, 8.7.1911 - Fluphenazine - Birmingham Scandal - -

A board on each of the three significant historic sites in Birmingham: - All Saints - Highcroft - The Rubery Hill and Hollymoor site.

A board explaining and illustrating the significance of the change brought about by Care in the Community - [See Fluphenazine - Birmingham Scandal - ]

A "horrible history" of 20th century treatments of mental illness. For example, the use of mercury, lobotomies, drilling holes in the skull, ECT, aversion therapy as treatment for homosexuality seen as a mental illness until 1958.

Brief histories of Mental Health Services established to support the black and minority ethnic communities in Birmingham.

Definition of mental illness - different people's definitions and how the definition and terminology has changed through the twentieth century. (The history of language on mental health is a measure of the cultural history and history of common (mis)understanding on mental health).

Police and admissions. Using information from the website section.

The image of mental health services, material developed around mental health and stigma surrounding mental illness.

Slavery and its ongoing impact on black people and mental health

"Why Black people suffer more from mental health problems" or .... do Black people suffer more from mental health problems?

Drugs and mental health.

Cause and effect - vox pops of peoples views.

A board or display which lists clips from the Oral History interviews we have recorded and selected. Listing the subject of those clips, something about the person who gave the interview, and giving the facility for the visitor to press a button to play that clip. (with headphones). "



mandy lifeboats appeal said...

so another initiative came and the space of a year?

If I am reading it right. I think alot of this sort of thing goes on. Upfront money is given and then when that runs out....iniatives disappear.

There seems to be little long term vision and or commitment.

so where did the money get spent? That is another running theme with MH 'initiatives'. No transparency in what is done and certainly little public accountability for where the money went or the outcomes of things.

Hmmm...I think that goes for national organisations too. Running on government themes and then nothing to show for it at the end..except maybe some crass statements about how well they have done.

to quote a song "All you do to me is talk talk"

Jimmytagger said...

I am black and afro and I wanted to see more come out of this project but its died an almost unmentioned death and I can see the BSMHT is very image conscious and only wants uncontroversial projects and people around it . I would not recommend using its services but we get locked in and are very suspicious of the way it is run I am glad this userwatch is about its street talk and good I will tell more bros about it

Anonymous said...

It is rather sad that when it comes to applying for grants and funding, it is usually service user's plight and misery that is used to justify the reasons for funding. This excuse was used once again with the purpose that the grant was for service users to contribute to research. Despite the claims of care in the community, the service users coming to contribute to the project, were often told not walk into this public community center because other members of the public were afraid of them. Therefore the service user's input for the research was reduced while others were ignored or fed up with such treatment. As for the 55K lottery grant plus the other 5K, only God knows what happened to the money. At the end of the day, the service users have been let down once again as usual, but it is up to the service users to continue to support each other through these forums.

PatientGuard said...

Well said Anon

We applaud Users or anyone for coming out with the truth .

This "Speak Out" project was a waste of money purely because it was so Top-Down organised from the beginning and leaned on both by management at the Woodview Centre and Birmingham And Solihull Mental Health Trust who wanted to use it to promote their own racial diverity and equality take.

Frank Bruno was used latterly to bolster this failing project which for the money used did not result in more serious exposure of abusive mental health experiences on black or other people in Birmingham .. And by god many of the abuses are subtle and create a lot of tension in Users - with staff quietly abusing power and not enfranchising the buckled lives of Users ..

Its almost a mafia like logic that operates inside the NHS and anything related to its desire to make itself look good and keeping power over Users - far too much . They grow toxic co-dependency with this attitude ..

At UserWatch we were aware that the "Speak Out" website disappeared and was rehashed later in time For Frank Bruno's appearance - we saw Sue Turner lapping it all up - but what a false picture it really was - we know of people that gave advice for the Users to be trained up in Blogging - thus giving them chances to form their own voices and use of multi-media techniques and we know of one User that gave information about free software called "audacity" so Users could make their own testimony - this was comandeered though and not shared ....

In other words Users were used by a the Birmingham and Solhull Mental Health Foundation Trust service that does not like serious open criticism it cannot control. Their job is "image" - we always remember that . They employ ex journalists to take care of the spin now ..

We know of Users totally disenchanted by this project because it took away power from the Users quite quickly and placed it back into the hands of those who were playing with it ambitiously ..

We at UserWatch (though we have US connections too ) stand alone in Birmingham - with many skills and encourage Users to get out from under and use the Web - which is the last free place where Users can voice our own voices without them being slave chained by the bullshit Trust

Right on Brother .. Keep your soul ..

Anonymous said...

This forum can continue to voice effects of mental health services on users including BME groups in Birmingham. These discussions can become a place to expose abusive mental health experiences on black or other people in Birmingham and other places. Users can still make their own testimony and stand together in Birmingham - with many skills this forum can encourage users to get out from under and use the Web - which is the last free place for sharing experiences to explore what worked and what did not work. It can become a gathering to overcome isolation and negative stereotyping of service users. This user watch can become a place to support each other. The long term vision and commitment to improvement of the dignity for mental health service users is still possible through ourselves.

Anonymous said...

The Mental health service users are survivors, who can take power back and place it into the hands of those dedicated to seeing more come out of this forum to improve the general treatment and attitude towards service users.

UserVoiceRebel said...

Anon, the web is an important place to attack the hypocrisy of Services that are "arranging" the Voice of Users to suit their performance image-play.

Sue Turner CEO believes in image play as a form "convincing reality"

Propogandising how wonderful the NHS is, is part of the Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust's game . Its transparent to us but often mystifying to some Users and others who do not experience the services at close hand .

The Net gives people a chance to speak out as they are and not have the means of their expression owned by the State .. The Net is public too and "confidentiality" is a major weapon of unaccountability of the NHS mental health services . The reason why the admin clasess in the NHS are worried about this is because they cannot control its processes and experience.

All Users should try to get web savvy and use BLOGGER and other resources but stay the "shuck" away from UK Charities and the NHS resources which are as bad as being inside a gagged ward ..

The Net is the climb
And its expression's steeple

The Net is the real User's Voice
When its direct use and
Power To the people .. !

Anonymous said...

True; like the story of "one flew out of the cuckoo's nest" some with vested interest may try to keep service users caged but there is hope for respect and freedom

Silvisrivers said...

Yes but only when Users realise - they have to form their own media Online - the Services create extra slave chains on Users - Users have to learn how to walk out of them