Our Mission

Very recently, IWhat's missing? 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!

The Space

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.”



33 thoughts on “Our Mission

  1. Hi Yes Congratulations If you can make this work with funding as a number of these type of projects within the last 10 years have started and finished in my area due to the lack of funding and not the need or the williness for this to suckseed. I wish you lots of luck and I hope it works. Many thanks Tony

    1. We’ve some possible funding developments coming up in the very near future. But every community has resources to hand, and it takes a few people within that community to look into it, to get it going. It’s how I did it, and I’ll be blogging more very soon, and will happily share any resources, help, contacts, etc.

  2. This is such a brilliant idea, I would love to see this in every community, I believe that this ground level support would strengthen community’s in turn building a happier environment. Really positive! 🙂

    1. Thanks, Lacey, all encouragement gratefully accepted! Well, all input/collaboration/ideas are welcome! If you want to know more, please contact me! 😀

  3. Hi than you for your inspirational message. I think it’s brilliant and it’s just what is needed in today’s society. I would love to be part if it I am currently struggling to get clients and think this might be the answer.

  4. Hi Mark – great idea – sorry its take me so long to get to peek at your link – one of my clients (SLATE) does something sort of similar, with a bit more of a hit around personal progression towards formal employment alongside our version of tea and sympathy, over the border in Leeds so if you want to come over for a chat? do get in touch if you want to. Louise

    1. Hi Lousie, that sounds great, love to chat, sounds like we have real commonality with what we both do.
      I’ll email you my details, and we’ll get something sorted! 🙂

  5. Great work Mark! I have been “institutionalised” and “labeled” by the system – not easy to shake off. My local mental health care are teaching Mindfulness now. I haven’t been on a course yet. They’re website has a link for people to practice relaxation. They have sent me a c.d. on Mindfulness – I can’t find it because it’s been “tidied up” lol.
    I have joined a church in my local community who are extremely good with understanding of depression etc so this is a big help.
    My g.p. is on another level because of his own interest in mental health wellness and so forth.
    My life is improving each day but it takes hard work on my part. Still, am taking each day – one day at a time.
    I guess what is important is learning to trust myself and letting others become close following a series of life catastrophe’s which led me to believe that no-one can be trusted.
    Hope is the most important thing that has been lost in me at times.
    A life without Hope is a dark and lonely place.

    I wish you the best with your endeavours and may they be fruitful. 🙂

    1. Hi Lynne, it’s good to hear that you’re making progress, even without the relaxation CD, lol!
      A lot of the time, it’s not people with a preexisting condition, but people who are suffering the effects of our unempathic society, and the effects of austerity, and I found that it’s more about being human, a reaction to huge social and financial pressures, no jobs for life anymore, a low wage level, where you can’t get a job that pays adequately, housing issues, benefits issues, etc.
      I think you’re right when you say it’s a case of self trust, and that can be a slow, painful process, too much for some, and “Hope” is there to help rebuild that self trust, and to help people to engage again, and to get the comunity at large to understand that mental illness can happen to anyone if the circumstances are bad enough.
      Many thanks for your kind words, and I hope that your recovery continues at a pace.

      1. I read somewhere recently (or listened on a youtube video) – that a person may have “the gene” for say Bipolar in my case – and that an extremely stressful event or trauma can “ignite” that and cause a person to have “an episode”. So, say I was 15 when I had what I call my “first breakdown”.
        Ok. -Mark – just want to tell you something I learned a few years ago. There is something called the “Stress Vulnerability Model” which a psychiatric nurse told me about. In simple terms – stress causes some people to have a psychotic episode. People with Bipolar can have a psychotic episode after a stressful event and also people with Schizophrenia. So called “normal” people can have a psychotic episode even if they have not got a mental illness – an example given might be a prisoner who is locked up in a darkened room by themselves without any company etc. (something like that).
        Now – unfortunately OR fortunately – Society OR perhaps the Medical Profession is obsessed with LABELS. We categorise ourselves, we are categorised by the Medical profession etc, etc.

        Although a diagnosis can sometime be the beginning of the possibility of helping a person and getting the right help, for myself – I found the diagnosis “limiting”. It reinforced my ideas about myself that I was not “good enough” – that my place in society or the community was doomed, on another level i rejected myself even before other people got the opportunity to reject me.
        I was diagnosed with Bipolar at aged 30 – but – stressful events – some traumatic – had since aged 15 – given me several “episodes” over those years.
        Family and friends found my BEHAVIOUR – confusing , annoying, upsetting and from time to time my behaviour scared them – I was O.T.T. at times.
        Having said that – My Mum said she didn’t recognise a problem in me because I have always been a bit like that. What I think she meant is that at times I could appear quiet and industrious, at other times I could have “fall-outs” with her, perhaps we didn’t agree on something -even as a child, and I exhibited flashes of temper and frustration with things at times as a child. Perhaps things I couldn’t verbalise or explain in my life were happening – perhaps my brother and I had been arguing over something, maybe I was annoyed because no-one could take me to acting lessons or ballet lessons- maybe there wasn’t enough money etc, etc, etc. Lots of things in childhood can cause confusion and annoyance.

        One thing I do know about myself as a person is the following: My brother who was two years older could annoy me and provoke me on and on and on. I learned not to react to him. But eventually he could get a raaction. So I could bury my anger – but it would eventually surface if I was provoked sufficiently. We forgave each other – well, I forgave him and we loved each other – we had a bond that sister/brother have when born only two years apart.

        Now – during childhood – our parents, guardians – the people with whom we live – teach us many things – lots of love if they care about you and you are blessed with loving parents – love is the most important aspect of childhood in my opinion.

        Parents are human-beings and they make mistakes.

        If you have parents that have learned negative ways of coping with stress – then in childhood that is a powerful message. Negative ways of coping with stress are common though – and also we can
        even as adults – be taught and re-learn positive ways of coping with stress.

        My Dad smoked a pipe. Not continuously puffing so to speak – but nevertheless – that is what he did. Not a crime – but still – now we know smoking tobacco is not the best thing for stress and for our well-being.

        Mum went to the G.P. with stress. (remember this was the sixties). She was prescribed an anti-depressant which had a sedative. She took it for a long time. In those days (have things changed that much?) a pill was prescribed to send a patient on their way and to give the G.P. time to treat his other patients, for example.

        My mum also used emotional blackmail to “get what she wanted” from time to time and complained about physical pain alot without approaching a G.P. She found it close to impossible to “confront” people. She complained about them rather than saying it to their face and so she had problems with assertiveness.

        My dad also was not very assertive either. He had virtually no time to make friends but he formed friendships at work. He made people laugh. I think on some level he was shy and on some level Mum was shy.

        Anyway – as I was saying – when we spend so much time with our parents – we also learn some of their negative traits – and if one or other of them has negative ways of managing stress – then this is a powerful message to the child who is growing up. This is the norm.

        Neither of my parents drank alcohol. You might describe them as tea-total. Dad certainly did not like whiskey I believe. He had tried cider when he was younger. Both set of grandparents came from a mixture of Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian back-grounds. All grandparents frowned upon alcohol consumption to a greater degree. There was no alcohol drunk at Christmas or New Year for example.

        So – alcohol in my family was not used as a way of dealing with stress.

        Before my first breakdown – I “knew” I was going to fail my maths O’level. (aged 15) .

        1) I was scared of a nuclear war happening.

        2) Teachers kept saying there were no text books – or not enough – because of the Government at the time.

        3) People (other students) were saying that it was harder to get into college.

        4) Harder to get a good University – if Uni was your goal.

        5) My brother dropped Acid when I was 15 and I had to keep it to myself.

        6) Two of my parents had had a parent die very close to where I lived. One was a friend’s mother who died unexpectedly, the other was a friend’s father who had a longer illness.

        7) My mum became ill and I feared she would die.

        8) My Dad was looking after her but he also was ill for a few weeks and I feared they both would die.

        9) I was becoming aware of my sexuality and that boys/men were looking at me and i wasn’t sure how to cope with it.

        10) I thought some of my peers were better than me because they were thinner, more attractive, more intelligent, had more interesting parents.

        11) My concentration was leaving me and I couldn’t study.

        12) I didn’t know how to balance the amount of work I did at home (chores such as cooking, cleaning, ironing) etc, with the amount of study I knew I had to do.

        13)Going on a diet aged 14/15 even though I was only 8 and a half stone.

        So – just SOME of the stressors in my life at that time which led to a total nervous breakdown. (plus fancying boys from afar and unrequited crushes)

        My conclusion about myself – is that along with very poor self- confidence, low self-esteem, giving up a musical instrument which gave me confidence on some level, and not being able to process all the stressful things about life that I was learning, etc, etc, this combination of things – plus going to bed later than I had when I was younger – created a weakness in my mental health and triggered a bipolar episode.

        My G.P. prescribed valium. I took one. I was off school for about 2 weeks.

        I came to recognise OR be afraid of EXAMS of any kind. I only passed Religious Education – C grade, English Language- C grade and a Childcare nursing certificate – B grade.

        I had severe anxiety everytime I took an exam.

        Later on in my life – lots of different events – contributed to a further decline in my self-esteem and my mental health.

        I hope this comment helps people to understand that many things lead to a breakdown – usually not just one – though one event could be a catalyst. Also – there are more positive ways of dealing with stress than what we sometimes learn from famiily, friends, the media etc.

        The good news is that there are people like yourself who want to guide others towards a state of wellness and self-manageability and not to be defined by their diagnosis if they have one.

  6. What a wonderful idea. You guys are undertaking a mission that must seem huge sometimes, but I have no doubt will be hugely helpful to everyone you touch personally. Your cause is my cause — Let me know if I can help you!

    1. Hi, Lisa, and thank you for your kind words and support, it’s very much appreciated!
      Yes, I’m looking for people/orgs to collaborate with, as I strongly believe that we all need to be facing the same way, so to speak, to see we’re not isolated, and together, we’ll stand stronger still. So your offer would be gratefully accepted, and we could doo great things between us.

  7. Hi Mark, Your idea is just what is needed in times when funding is short and preventative services are what funders are looking for. With so many people losing out on support and the services they currently access we all need to think differently and creatively. I wish you all the very best in your venture

    1. Thanks Karen, nice to see you on here as well as Twitter!
      Thanks a lot for your encouraging and kind words.
      We wish to fight social isolation, to get people to engage, torealise that mental illness can be as much about human reaction to very adverse situations and circumstance as it can be about preexisting conditions.
      If you feel you have something to contribute, ideas/opinions, please feel free to contact me further.

  8. This is an inspirational idea that would benefit many people and section within the community, how about looking at applying for funding from the lottery.

      1. Mark, you’re welcome. I have such a heart for these dear ones with mental illness. My mother was incarcerated for crimes committed against our family. And my step mom had serious depression, agoraphobia, anxiety. Thankfully, not everyone has in their families someone with severe issues like my mother and step mom had. But many of us will be impacted, at some time or another, by someone in needs of TLC during a mental health crisis. Again, your concept is amazing. I hope that those who can help it become a reality will join in your efforts.

      2. Wow, thanks, praise indeed!
        Because mental health units are full of victims of austerity, people with preexisting conditions aren’t getting the help they truly need from the NHS, so the idea is to have preventative medicine, to get people the advice that will keep them out of crisis, and to stop the management via meds approach that’s endemic within our mental health care system, as it doesn’t get to the heart of things, and only encourages readmission in the long run.

      3. Thanks Pamela, am in the weird transition period between idea and actual funding – but there are some bright lights on the not so distant horizon. Will keep you posted.

  9. Hi Mark, I would be happy to meet up to discuss further. I am based within Bradford Town centre and have an accessible venue where the Hub could take place.

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