Archive | April, 2011

Recovery begins with hope- whether from mental ill health, prison or drugs

15 Apr

We held a second event on the ‘ RecoveryApproach ‘ on April 14th  – based on the report ‘Recovery Begins with Hope’  published the autumn last year. The same day that Catherine Zeta Jones reported being ‘bipolar’  – and the ‘Happiness Report’ by the Young Foundation was released.

The recovery approach means supporting people regain control over their lives and helping them have hope in the future and confidence in their own abilities. There is an energy around the recovery movement which you can feel, professionals are breaking from their cover and service users are much more confident  – you couldn’t tell in the room who were users and who were professionals – this is unusual.

I opened the event with a brief synopsis of the research findings that recovery is about a change in atttitudes among staff as much as those living through episodes of despair and this cultural shift is more likely to speed up when employeres start employing peer-support workers from the wider user community.

Shirley Dean, began by giving a moving account of her own breakdown and reemergence a stronger person running a social enterprise and committed advocate of the recovery approach -after much discussion by a packed room of commissioners, practitioners and peer support workers.

Julie Repper spoke about how ‘recovery’ is now accepted as good policy and the issue is putting into place. Julie is a member of the ImRoc Task Force which is amount to work with NHS mental health trusts now ready to implement recovery in their localities. This project has survived the change of government – it will galvanise 30 NHS Trusts through four demontration sites, (Manchester, Nottingham, Merseycare and St Georges) and on site consultancy. Julie has been a champion for recovery for many years has just set up a learning academy in Nottingham for recovery and peer-support workers. 

The afternoon focused on the mental health of offenders and the dearth of services for this group. Clare Hyde gave a powerful account of how the Calderdale Women’s Centre works, with staff from many backgrounds  providing holistic care with appreciative care for as long as a woman needs support. She graphicallyshowed that putting most women in prison for non-violent crimes merely damaged children.  They have reduced reoffending in Calderdale by 90%.

Lord Keith Bradley then talked about how the recommendations from the Bradley Report  on  Mental Health and Learning Disabilities were aimed at making the  ‘offender’ chain of contacts for those with mental health problems ( whas high as 85%) humane, integrated and sensible.  Projects around the country have been operating schemes not unlike recovery with offenders, and they work. A group came to the meeting and who had been working on their own recovery, they all had long experience of both abuse and the criminal justic system, and were now ready to become peer-support workers  – supported by a public health director and DH official they wanted to  find a small sum to make this happen, not in six months, but now.  The event ended with the room thinking about how to make this happen  …… ….this indicated a good day.  Any ideas leave a comment pleased.

The day was supported by the closing NW SHA and AQUA.


Of course WellBeing matters – but lets be honest about what makes a difference

13 Apr

Its dishonest to completely rubbish the ‘Happiness/Wellbeing ‘ agenda ( although the happiness word does sound a bit happy clappy). And there is a need to be serious about what creates a culture that nurtures well-being. The Young Foundation Report on Measuring ‘Happiness’ is helpful in talking about a number of factors that influence Wellbeing including income, family and friends and wider social connections -but it lacks edge by being silent about the levels of stress people suffer when anxious about their jobs, safety and future prosperity.

It would be heartening if  politicians would heed the voice of smaller countries such as Iceland where valuing people is at the heart of their policies – and where the popular vote against paying back the banks has won out twice and counts. I think we have a lot to learn from smaller countries and some city regions where governance bodies are looking to incorporate in people’s wellbeing into their economic thinking and reflect on the costs to local people of paying too much attention to the financial markets and too little to building the local resilience .

It seems me to be that we need to talk more about innovative governance and systems that will support locality innovation as well as service innovations. It is now generally accepted across business and government that innovation policy must attract innovators and innovations rather than decree where they should be – but innovations cannnot sustain themselves without connections to local commissioners and contractors and a governance frame and ecosystems that  welcomes when innovations they add public value rather than undermine people and the very relationships that sustain places. 

I am getting more and more interested in places where a new eco-system is emerging – whether in a country, in a rural region or in the city regions – we need more examples of systemic and place-based innovation -where are the emerging new forms of local governance; not just in the UK please send a comment.