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Press Release: Cuts to Liverpool Mental Health Sector Fly in the Face of Sanity!

Loss of health service funding for the voluntary sector will increase emergency costs & cost lives.

 

Liverpool Mental Health Consortium is a service user led organisation which has spent the past 20 years supporting people who experience mental distress, by developing self-advocacy skills, peer support & the service user voice. It aims to reduce social isolation, raise awareness, challenge stigma, improve service commissioning & work in partnership to provide creative ways in which to talk about mental health. It also co-ordinates the popular Liverpool Mental Health Festival in October & Liverpool Mad Pride in April.

Having lost all its funding from Liverpool City Council in 2012, in an early round of so-called austerity measures, the Consortium has now heard that its funding from NHS Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has been slashed by 75%, leaving its future uncertain.

One service user, Pete Ryan, said:

“This is awful news. I feel that somehow we have had the Consortium snatched from us. At a time when people need even more support & representation in mental health this decision is obscene.”

Recent work by Liverpool Mental Health Consortium has focused on issues such as local mental health crisis care services, and the importance of peer support in maintaining good mental health – many people who shared their stories said it could be at least as effective as talking therapies or medication in keeping people well & reducing the need for crisis care. The Consortium’s most recent report focuses on the double threat to the city’s mental health posed by cuts to voluntary sector funding & changes to the benefits system.

Claire Stevens, Development Manager at Liverpool Mental Health Consortium said:-

 “Make no mistake, the mental wellbeing of Liverpool residents is under attack. The community based organisations which support local people on a daily basis are struggling to maintain basic services &, in some cases, are unable to continue. Central Government spending reviews & cuts have bitten hard over the past 5 years &, despite making every effort to minimise the impact of these cuts at a local level, Liverpool City Council (LCC) & NHS Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) have now reached a point where they are having to make some very tough decisions.

We have to question the process by which the latest round of cuts have been decided. Cuts now will cost us all dearly later. We all know that prevention is better than cure & community-based support is certainly cheaper than hospital-based treatment. But still the cuts to community services, self-help & peer support keep coming. It really is utter madness! A&E services & the Police are already struggling to cope with the numbers of people they are seeing in mental health crisis but these numbers are bound to increase as people have fewer & fewer options about where to go for support. And the cost to the taxpayer will spiral. Cuts to organisations such as ours are a classic example of false economy.

This is all happening at a time when stringent changes to welfare benefits have left local people not only poorer but also feeling frightened, anxious, depressed &, in some cases, suicidal. The impact on Liverpool’s mental health is already a cause for concern – & it’s about to get worse! The latest round of voluntary sector funding cuts from the CCG guarantee it. Poverty is increasing. Voluntary & community services which were picking up the pieces, plugging the gaps & providing information, advice, support & advocacy to those most in need are being scrapped. And the impact on the mental health of individuals, families & communities continues to mount.”

The loss of Liverpool Mental Health Consortium would mean that mental health service users, & others who experience mental distress, would no longer have an independent body through which to represent their voices & views to decision makers & service providers. The Consortium’s focus on equality would also be lost as it currently co-ordinates cross-sector work on mental health strategy as it impacts on women, members of Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic and Refugee (BAMER) communities, & on lesbian, gay, bisexual & trans people.

The Consortium’s Involvement Worker, Sarah Butler-Boycott, added:-

“We are not aware of the CCG conducting an Equality Impact Assessment or considering how the most vulnerable will feel the biggest impact, when deciding on these cuts. The lack of transparency & poor communication from the CCG has been extremely disappointing. What kind of message do these cuts send out to people who feel they have nowhere left to turn? I recognise that times are hard but, clearly, we’re not all in it together.”

 Underlining the severity of the situation, an anonymous service user said that cuts to services & changes to benefit entitlement had:

“Massively increased stress, anxiety, depression and serious thoughts of suicide. (The situation is) making me sicker & delaying recovery & wellbeing.”

 On a more positive note, Claire Stevens said:-

“Liverpool Mental Health Festival 2017 will still go ahead this October (1st – 14th) so do come along & support it. It may be your last opportunity!”

 

The ‘Austerity, Adversity & Welfare Reform’ report is available at www.liverpoolmentalhealth.org on the downloads page or by contacting hello@liverpoolmentalhealth.org or 0151 237 2688.

 

 

Supporting Africa Oyé

Liverpool Mental Health Consortium is pleased and proud to support Africa Oyé in its 25th year!

Not only do we love the festival and all it stands for but we see it as a positive force for community wellbeing, giving us all an opportunity to connect with each other in a welcoming and supportive atmosphere, and to have fun!

All of which is as important in 2017 as it has ever been. Austerity, welfare reform and a vocal section of society and the media which seeks to ‘blame’ anyone they see as ‘different’ for everything they see as wrong with the world, can take a heavy toll on all of us. Stress, anxiety and depression can affect any of us at any time, and we at Liverpool Mental Health Consortium take the mental health and wellbeing of our Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic and Refugee (BAMER) communities very seriously indeed.

We know, for example, that Black people in the UK are more likely than their White British counterparts to be diagnosed with mental health problems; more likely to be admitted to hospital for mental health problems; more likely to experience a poor outcome from treatment; more likely to disengage from mainstream mental health services, leading to social exclusion and a deterioration in their mental health.

We also know the importance of peer-to-peer support for communities which have been routinely marginalised, stigmatised or seen as ‘other’. Individuals within such communities often place an additional value on sharing their experiences and providing mutual support to others who have had similar experiences or with whom they share similar cultural reference points.

BAMER community members may be less likely to access ‘mainstream’ services aimed at providing mental health support, because they don’t typically see themselves and their needs reflected in such groups. However, there ARE some useful sources of support out there and you can find out further details in our ‘Mental Health & Wellbeing Support for BAMER (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic & Refugee) Communities’ booklet www.liverpoolmentalhealth.org/download/ or by checking out the Wellbeing Liverpool Directory online at  www.wellbeingliverpool.org.uk/service_index.php or by ‘phone on 0300 77 77 007. Calls cost the same as to a local landline number. Staff can call you back to keep your bill down and interpreters can be arranged if required.

Now, let’s dance!

Marc Discusses Loneliness On Tony Snell Radio Programme

As part of Radio Merseyside’s recent coverage of mental health issues, Marc, a member of our service user group, appeared on Tony Snell’s morning programme to discuss the subject of loneliness. The late Jo Cox MP along with fellow MP, Seema Kennedy, campaigned to get the issue of loneliness on the government and public agenda.

“Together, the new MPs devised a plan to launch a commission into loneliness – due to begin in late 2016 – that would not simply involve politicians sitting around and talking about the issue but instead represent a call to action.”

Finding Some Way Through: A City Of The Mind

finding-some-way-through

Monday 16th January 6pm, The Rotunda (Café), 109 Great Mersey St, Liverpool L5 2PL.

A Listening Party on Blue Monday, 16th January, to celebrate the launch of the soundscape: Finding Some Way Through (A City of the Mind), created by participants during a project with Liverpool Mental Health Consortium & Writing on the Wall led by composer and musical director Patrick Dineen

The group met for twelve weeks, and recorded in locations across the city to create a unified piece of work to mark Blue Monday, regarded traditionally as the most depressing day of the year. The project aims to highlight issues of mental health, work to remove the stigma attached to it, and offer support and a signpost to people suffering mental health issues through the Liverpool mental Health Consortium.

Participants worked with Patrick to create an imaginary world with sound, using modern digital technology techniques. The project explored sampling, field recording and studio production. All participants created a ‘district’ of their own in a imaginary city of sound. The project also considered the definition of self and psychological wellbeing in relation to the psychologically repressive and ‘unhealthy’ world in which we live. ‘Being heard’ is a key theme.

MAD PRIDE 2016

Liverpool Mental Health Consortium teamed up with Threshold Festival Six to bring Mad Pride celebrations to Liverpool for the first time. Instrumental to the success of previous World Mental Health Day celebrations, Threshold fully embraced the creative bonkersness that is Mad Pride. Here’s a video from Liverpool Live TV. We’ll be programming Mad Pride again at the next Threshold Festival Sunday 2nd April 2017

Claire Stevens on Upfront

Development Manager, Claire Stevens appeared on the popular Sunday night Radio Merseyside programme, Upfront. Claire was interviewed by Ngunan Adamu and they chatted about the Mental Health & Me writing competition and also the forthcoming Liverpool Mental Health Festival 2016, which runs from 1st October through to 16 October. The interview lasts about 8.30 minutes and covers everything that’s happening in this year’s festival and also discusses several mental health issues affecting communities in the city.

NCS Young People Raise Money For LMHC

We are honoured that a group of 16 young people participating in National Citizenship Service (NCS) chose to raise money for Liverpool Mental Health Consortium. They took part in a number of different activities across Liverpool, including a sponsored walk, piano playing, & bucket collecting. They all put in a lot of hard work, & we think it’s amazing that they managed to raise £1, 020 for us!

Our sincere thanks go to: Jack, Hannah, Adam, Natasha, Danny, Ellen, Ahmed, Eleanor, Ian, Erin, Sam, Saskia, Haseeb, Emma, Jorge & Nathan

 

Liverpool IDAHOT Event – 15th May 2016

 

The Consortium’s LGBT Mental Health Strategy Group has been hard at work planning for this year’s Liverpool IDAHOT (International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia) event. So if  you’re free on Sunday 15th May, why not come along?

There will be music, comedy, fabulous food, discussions, workshops & lots of fun! (See details below)

If you’d like to book a stall at the event please let us know by emailing hello@liverpoolmentalhealth.org – it’s free but space is limited!


Mad Pride at Threshold Six: Celebrating Liverpool’s Creative Bonkersness!


 

 

Liverpool Mental Health Consortium has teamed up with Threshold Festival Six to bring Mad Pride celebrations to Liverpool for the first time. Instrumental to the success of previous World Mental Health Day celebrations, Threshold fully embraces the creative bonkersness that is Mad Pride.

Taking place at 24 Kitchen Street on Sunday 3rd April, Mad Pride  promises a line-up of music, spoken word & performances alongside  a range of creative activities for party-goers to get stuck into. Expect an Andy Warhol’s Factory-style vibe as local artists offer screen-printing, wall-papering & lantern-making workshops, with a pop-up exhibition of finished artwork decorating the walls of the venue.

Mad Pride kicks off at 3 pm with Colonel Mustard & the Dijon 5, who will get the party started in the style of the “The Yellow Movement”, as the band likes to be known.  From 4-5 pm, local motivator & all-round talent Faris Khalifa will lead the “confidential rants”: a soap-box for people to go on stage & “rant” for up to 5 minutes about something that matters to them. Alternating slots of professional poets & audience members promises an exciting opportunity to take part & rant to fellow Mad Pride goers!

DJs Rebel Soul & The Walrus Said, will be spinning an eclectic mix of tunes from all over the world & their early evening set will be dotted with  weird & wonderful pop-up performances by the Cabaret from the Shadows & the Suitcase Ensemble, to name a just a few.

There will also be face-painting on offer, as well as a dressing-up box, inviting Mad Pride revellers to get into character in time for the Mad Pride Parade!

At 7.20 pm, local performance collective Bring the Fire Project will draw party-goers outside with a fire performance, making way for the Mad Pride parade. While 24 Kitchen Street closes for the duration, the parade starts at 7.40 pm & will take in the footprint of Threshold Six, led by torches & with pop-up surprises along the way!

Returning to the venue at 8.30 pm, DJ Kid Blast will welcome parade goers back with his scratch-masterly skills. 7-piece band The Lotharios will be on stage from 9.30-10.30 pm, whipping up the party one last time & closing the event with a bang!

Claire Stevens from Liverpool Mental Health Consortium said: “We are excited to be part of Threshold & to be able to promote good mental health in the context of art & creativity. It’s all about bringing people together, having fun & using the arts platform to help break down stigma towards mental distress in a playful & creative way. ”