Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Comic Relief award of £110,605 for Powys project to develop Mental Health Networks

PAVO's mental health team celebrates news of the award
Back: Glynis Luke, Jane Cooke, Freda Lacey
Front: Jackie Newey
Shaping Our Services - "Together For Powys Mental Health" 
Local Participation Networks

Powys Association of Voluntary Organisations is pleased to announce that it has been awarded £110,605 from Comic Relief for a three year project, to be managed by the mental health team, to develop local mental health participation networks around Powys. The work is being funded under Comic Relief’s Fairer Society theme, which aims to: “empower and give a voice to marginalised groups of people, enabling them to challenge injustice and bring about positive changes for those who face discrimination and stigma”.

Freda Lacey, our team's Participation Officer, who worked on the funding bid to Comic Relief, told me more about the new project.

“Our county mental health participation network has made a positive difference to marginalised people’s lives since 2010. Using principles of collaboration and co-production, we have successfully challenged injustice and ensured that people excluded from decision-making processes have had their voice heard and been involved in shaping services both in Powys and nationally.

This county-wide work has identified the need to develop participation networks in local communities. Here people face local problems sometimes not appropriate for county discussion, they lack confidence to participate at this level, and are unable to access meetings centrally or to participate remotely. Statistics show that we only reach 10% of people in contact with services as the majority live in more rural areas.

Decisions about mental health services are being made nationally, but 90% of people in Powys currently do not know how to ensure their voice is heard at this level. This means that they cannot participate in decisions that affect their lives. In 2013 we recruited local individuals to participate on local/national mental health strategic decision boards. These individual representatives require local networks to be in place to listen and share with other people, from all ages, in contact with services, and those close to them, to ensure that they are reaching as many people as possible in local communities. This not only empowers grassroots community voice but also supports the individual representatives as carriers/channellers of that collective voice.
Freda (far left) at Comic Relief HQ in  London on February 5
meeting people from other award-winning projects
People will use their lived experience to make a positive difference, to their own lives and the lives of others. Their voices, lived experience, and skills will be used to help reduce the disadvantages, discrimination, social inequality and stigma faced by people experiencing mental distress and influence and improve services and opportunities available to “all of us” across Powys.

Participants in the project will increase their negotiating, listening and influencing skills and their understanding of public sector delivery, decision making and strategy. People in Powys, from children to older people, will know how to access local, county and national participation opportunities. They will know how to speak out and get their voice heard, and how to actively engage with those working in mental health services and help shape service delivery."

If you would like to find out more about mental health participation opportunities in Powys, please take a look at the Getting Involved pages on our website here.

You can find out more about the work of Comic Relief here, and Red Nose Day Friday 13 March 2015 here

Make your face funny for money!

Red Nose Day comes along every two years and combines two very British things: having a laugh and helping others. Be it at school, work or home, people across the land put on Red Noses and pull out all the stops to raise as much money as possible. Then, once everyone’s run out of fundraising juice, they tune into BBC One for some top entertainment from their favourite comedians and to donate even more cash! And why do they do it? To help poor and vulnerable people living incredibly tough lives both here in the UK and across Africa.

Update: The Participation Worker post related to this project is now being advertised. Closing date 7 April 2015. More info here.

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