February 2016

How many years later?

Ok nearly new year, nearly new start.

And in the meantime, wordpress has kind of updated, so I’m all rusty and will have to catch up with it again. Does all look vaguely familiar though, so hopefully it won’t be too painful.


IMHA – Independent Mental Health Advocacy

I so admire people who keep blogging every day, or even every week. I must do better.

One of the events I’ve been to recently was the launch of ‘The Right to be Heard‘, a review of the quality of Independent Mental Health Advocacy across England. I was one of the service user researchers on the project at University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).

The event was chaired by Charles Walker MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on mental health. He described how he had gained a lot from ‘coming out’ about his OCD at the mental health debate on June 14th (read the full debate on Hansard). He talked about how he had meant to speak for much longer about access to IMHA services, but time had run out after he spoke so passionately about his own experiences. 

One of the recommendations from the report is that IMHA services should be opt out rather than opt in as they are currently. Access to services is patchy with only around half of eligible people actually using their services. Access is particularly poor for people from specific groups such as BME communities, younger people (under 18), older people (especially those who need non-instructed advocacy) and people from D/deaf communities.

There are changes to commissioning of IMHA services, with it moving from PCT to Local Authorities for April 2013. I hope all local authority commissioners are made aware of the report so that they can implement the recommendations in their new tender documents. People who use services and their supporters can help in making their commissioners, as well as their peers, aware of the report.

The full report, as well as a summary and leaflet, are available on the project website at 


An inspiring weekend – a fresh start.

My weekend was filled with people saying ‘wow’ and flashing their cameras as I walked towards them. Children with their jaws dropped and dogs barking at the approaching threat. People hanging over their walls and standing on lamp posts. Workers finding vantage points along the route, high up in their cherrypickers.

I didn’t take any photos — too busy asking people to move back to let him come through — and I was too close to him to appreciate the scale of him. There weren’t so many photos online of him either – I don’t know whether people were more taken with the Little Girl Giant or they just couldn’t fit him in a frame? But I love this photo (from @LaurenWoosey).