Sharing Power: Sustaining the roots of peer support in statutory services

Voice Collective and Voices Unlocked, are teaming up to deliver this free half-day conference

About this Event

Over the last 15 years, Mind in Camden’s Hearing Voices projects have set up Hearing Voices groups and developed critical mental health training/workshops within the ideology of peer support. We’ve included training around how gender identity may impact someones experience in services, launching groups specifically for women and highlighting the importance of inclusivity around trans issues.

We’ve developed groups in a range of settings including: prisons, immigration removal centres, secure units, youth offending services, CAMHS inpatient and outpatient services, and youth centres.

This conference will reflect on the value and challenges of setting up and facilitating Hearing Voices peer support groups in institutional settings.

For more information and to register, visit the event page

Talking about Race – from Montreal to London

Talking about race & racism can be difficult. For those of us working in prisons, immigration removal centres and forensic units we might be aware that rates of incarceration are higher than they should be for racialised people.

Black people make up 12% of the UK prison population but only 3% of black people reside in the UK (Lammy, 2017). Overrepresentation of black people is found in all psychiatric settings but is greatest in forensic units (McKenzie, 2004) where often the diagnosis received is psychosis.

Members of the Hearing Voices team travelled to snowy Montreal this November where we took part in the 11th World Hearing Voices Congress. Voices Unlocked piloted a workshop addressing the legacy of colonialism with global majority voice hearers.

We then went on to run a one-day training in Central London entitled ‘Opening Up Conversations – Let’s talk about Race’  thinking around how to engage with race in a meaningful way for the people we work with. We covered the structural realities that shape our awareness of racism, we unpacked what it means to be white, covert racism vs overt racism, colour-blindness and honoured how black, brown and white bodies all hold racialised trauma, especially in forensic settings.

Feedback for both the workshop and training was good and we hope to run the one-day course again in 2020.

For some of the topics raised, please follow the link to read a blog written by Jessica Pons for Mental Health Today.

A Fresh Approach to Mental Health with Change for Good

Last month we completed the training day ‘A Fresh Approach to Mental Health’ for Change for Good, a mentoring and befriending project for men leaving Wandsworth Prison.

6 users of the service and 7 volunteers attended and we enjoyed lively discussions, with participants remarking they learnt a lot of new information. Men who had been detained in HMP Wandsworth had the chance to share experiences of adversity and have these validated through a framework that accepts non-biomedical understandings of mental health difficulties.

One man fed back that the most helpful part of the day was ‘engaging in one’s truth’. At the end of the training day, people commented that the take-home message is that truly empathetic listening is vital for supporting people in distress.

We take Hearing Voices Facilitation Training to Manchester

In February we ran our 3-day Hearing Voices Facilitation course from Manchester for the first time. We had twenty trainees from HMP Wakefield, HMP Berwyn, HMP New Hall, St George Healthcare Group, HMP Garth, HMP Haverigg, HMP Hindley, HMP Wealstun & Arbury Court Forensic Hospital.

Staff from HMP Berwyn in Wales (which when fully operational will be the largest prison in Europe!) have been in touch to say they are progressing well with laying the foundation for their Hearing Voices Group launch.

Since the training, HMP Garth’s Beacon Unit, part of the National Offender Personality Disorder Strategy, have been in touch to organise further training.

We shall be developing the Voices Unlocked network across the North of England next year, using Manchester as our Northern base.