Very recently, I was taken to visit and experience Bradford Mind, which is user run and user led. From the first moment that I stepped in, I found the positive impact that this site has had on its community to be eminently palpable. The energy and spirit of cooperation and mutual support at this centre is an absolute inspiration.
I was taken there because of a model I’m putting together – the idea of a safe space based in every community, in every town and city across the UK, based on the ethos of “Preventative Medicine”, based on the evidence that we have in spades, as people who work in the Mental Health Sector, in whatever form or size that may be.
Figures suggest that 1 in 4 of us will suffer with some form of mental health issue during our lives. We know that these figures are based on people who have visited a healthcare professional of some sort, and certainly don’t take into account the huge number who either don’t know, or would rather not admit to themselves that they have a mental health issue (and I include myself in that category).
These illnesses are sadly so often caused by issues that, if tackled at an appropriately early stage, can be resolved, thus removing an enormous pressure from a troubled individual and their loved ones.
General societal well-being and an empathy with those who do suffer are regrettably in short supply in this day and age.
So, after a lot of thought about this, I think I have an idea that I’d very much like to propose to all of you involved with an organization or project – based on and inspired by my visit to Bradford, and no matter what size your project or organization is, I think you may like this!
In every community we’d have a safe space for all – a local hub offering tea and empathy, along with practical support and inspiration. A place for sharing with others who may have true insight into how you might be feeling – being survivors/service-users ourselves. The space would always fit the community’s needs, as we’ll be the ones identifying and providing for our own them.
Our spaces may include the following:-
Services:- Debt-advice, money-management, benefits advice, advocacy, community info, classes/workshops from across the community, mentoring, café, free-shops…
Aims:- Increased self-esteem, self-directed learning, reduced stress, reduced isolation, self-empowerment, self-advocacy, group decision-making, peer to peer support, building bridges across our communities, well-facilitated consultation processes…
Resources:- Existing buildings/schemes adjusted, pool resources, network with providers (organizations, entrepreneurs, local businesses, sharing sites), directory (local, self-built), outreach and sharing with other hubs…
If together we can tackle the causes of the myriad stressors facing so many of us these days, we can all begin thriving again as individuals – making positive contributions to our new, thriving, outward-looking communities. We might also be unlocking previously untapped ideas and resources by our inclusivity. This would save social, educational and healthcare providers so many man hours – enabling funds to be used elsewhere and taking some pressure off these services.
This is a fluid framework at present, and isn’t set in stone by any means. I’d very much welcome any feedback and suggestions from you. If we can all learn to pull together, there is no reason why we can’t all thrive – as groups and organizations, as well as fellow human beings – with a sustainable, happy community as a base for all.
I sincerely hope that we’ll talk further in the very near future.
“We’re our best experts.”