[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
(other sections extracted )
- 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 www.speakouthistory.org
- 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?
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). "