NSUN Bulletin Monday 15 April 2019

nsun logo.png

NSUN Bulletin Monday 15 April 2019

Table of Contents

  • NSUN News

  • Selected blogs and articles

  • Do you want to be employed as a co-researcher on a project that aims to tackle ethnic inequalities in severe mental illness?

  • Book: Illness as a Metaphor

  • Dear GP zine - call for submissions by 21st April!

  • Passionate about PeerFest?

  • Gig Buddies for Good Mental Health - Brighton & Hove

  • SUN Network - Cambridgeshire

  • Lifecraft in Newmarket

  • Positive Mental Health Group - Birmingham

  • The Bridge Collective - Exeter

  • Exploring Mindfulness and Voices

  • User-led Women's Mental Health Network - turn up the volume!

  • Let's Talk exhibition

  • In the news

  • Dates for your calendar

  • GOV.UK news


This week's edition features some of the 'user-led' networks and groups from around the country that are running local activities and events. You can find out what groups are in your area on our website by searching the directory.

April is National Stress Awareness Month. Running since 1992, it aims to increase public awareness about both the causes and cures for our modern stress epidemic. The Stress Management Society says that 'despite this running for 20 years we have got a long way to go. According to the Mental health Foundation 74% of UK adults have felt so stressed at some point over the last year they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope.'

If you don't receive this bulletin directly from us but would like to, you can become a member and sign up for it here

Remember to  email us any news or information that you would like to share.

Previous bulletins can be viewed here.

Donations to NSUN are gratefully received for this free service.

You can donate directly here.

We have a variety of ways you can support NSUN, including a few that will not cost you an extra penny, such as:

Shopping with the Giving Machine

Shopping with Smile Amazon 

The Big Give

NSUN News  

Groups that applied to the National Lottery Community Fund Leaders with Lived Experience pilot programme heard the outcome of their applications 4 April.

Only 15-20 grants of between £20,000 and £50,000 were available but over 660 applications were received. As this is a pilot programme, it's hoped that the demand and the success of those who are awarded a grant leads to a full programme of grants in the future.

Obviously there are a lot of disappointed applicants and we know that quite a few of them are members of NSUN. We're hoping there'll be some mental health user-led groups and initiatives that have been successful but until the list of grants awarded are published we're not sure what the range of groups and work are.

When a funding opportunity arises that seems to speak directly to your cause it feels even more disappointing than usual when you're unsuccessful. We do know that grants like these are needed more now than ever.

Groups and organisations in our membership who aren't providers of services are finding it almost impossible to attract funding and are being told that they're too political, too radical, not professional enough and in some cases too professional. How we describe ourselves is becoming more complicated due to varied expectations and the use and adoption of particular language and terms by other organisations, thus making it harder to communicate the distinction and uniqueness of 'user-led' groups.

Co-producution, peer support and participation is everyone's business and in many respects that's what we've been lobbying for over the years. It's difficult when we can't reconcile the practice we experience with the language though.

NSUN recognises that the language of rights, self-advocacy, leadership and community activism cuts through this but we also need to look at clearly defining user and peer led initiatives.

We need to make sure that we can continue to pressure for change, the right change, the change that benefits our communities, not disadvantage them further. For this to happen we need powerful communities and the infrastructure and initiatives that help us come together. We need to continue to highlight the challenges and inequalities that individuals and groups are facing within our communities, but we also need to celebrate and promote those that continue to do what they do against all the odds. We also need to reclaim and reframe some of the language being used and adopted.

Let's hope there are more and not fewer opportunities such as the Leaders with Lived Experience fund. You can find out how to apply to the National Lottery Community Fund here.

The Value of User Led Groups - 2019 campaign UPDATE

 We are looking for more groups to complete the survey 

 If you're a user-led group we want to hear:

  • What does your group do?

  • What are your successes?

  • What are your challenges?

  • Are you self-funded or do you get support - if so, from where?

  • How hard is it to get funding in the current climate?

  • Do you have any views about government funding for mental health?

We want to gather as much information as possible before we meet with other groups and organisations 21 May. Visit our website for further updates on the campaign. Complete the survey or email info@nsun.org.uk.

Co-production guidance and tips

The Win-Win Alliance (Shaping Our Lives, Disability Rights UK, Change and NSUN) have produced some guidance outlining the simple, practical things you can do to provide inclusive and accessible involvement activities. You can read and download the Co-production guidance and tips papers here.


A short video and the Soap Boxes from our Members' Event in October 2018 is now available. You can also browse our Annual Report 2017-2018 here.

You can view the Principles of Peer Support Charter here.

Selected blogs and articles 

The impact of racism on mental health

Alison Faulkner's briefing paper summarising the evidence on the impact of racism on mental health, produced by the Synergi Collaborative Centre

They have produced four briefings to date – this one  The impact of racism on mental health (PDF)  and three others:

  • Ethnic inequalities in UK mental health systems

  • The importance of participatory methods to research and system change

  • Ethnicity, severe mental illness and categories

Synergi Briefing Papers provide summaries of the evidence and formulate a foundation for their work by reflecting the approach they are taking to their work and underlying values. 

Do you want to be employed as a co-researcher on a project that aims to tackle ethnic inequalities in severe mental illness? 


  • have lived experience of severe mental distress?

  • identify as African, Caribbean, South Asian or mixed heritage?

  • have interest in advancing our understanding of

  • ethnic inequalities and severe mental distress?

  • want the potential to make a difference in mental health services for ethnic minority people?

Do you want to be employed as a co-researcher on a project that aims to tackle ethnic inequalities in severe mental illness?

Synergi Collaborative Centre is recruiting 4 co-researchers on a casual basis to work with academic researchers based at the University of Manchester on a qualitative research project exploring the life stories of ethnic minority people - those with severe mental distress and those who work with them.

What does the post involve?

  • undertaking intensive training in research and qualitative lifestory interviewing & analysis leading to accreditation with the Open College Network

  • conducting in-depth one-to-one life story interviews

  • helping facilitate focus groups with different groups of stakeholders

  • co-analysing and disseminating the findings

  • regular support and supervision throughout the research process

Salary: £19.40/hour [Travel related to the post will be paid]

Closing date: Monday 6 May 2019
For more information please contact: maria.haarmans@manchester.ac.uk
0161 306 6943

Book: Illness as a Metaphor 

'A masterful focus on those who wander the margins'.

Man Thinking.jpg

Diary of a Malayali Madman is a collection of novellas written by one of India’s premiere writers, N Prabhakaran, and translated from the Malayalam language by Jayasree Kalathil.

The book explores the inner worlds of ordinary people in small town northern Kerala, and is reviewed here by the feminist historian, J Devika.

Read the full review and order the book here.

Dear GP zine - call for submissions by 21st April!  

Dear GP zine will be a collection of satirical clinic letters written 
evaluating sessions and assessing mental health professionals.

  • How accurate are your letters from mental health professionals?

  • Ever been copied into one that made you turn "emotionally labile" with rage?

  • Do you want to call out your professional's behaviour and analyse insignificant details about them too?

Then Dear GP zine wants to hear from you by 21st April

#dear_gp want submissions from users of mental health services and carers in the form of satirical clinic letters, usually sent to GPs,  reviewing your mental health professional.

Perhaps you have noticed that your mental health professional has "overvalued beliefs" they're unwilling to let go of. Perhaps your professional needs a full risk assessment and exploration of protective factors. Now's the time to let your GP know!

Also welcomed - Art made from clinic letters, notes, patient information leaflets, meds packet inserts - and whatever you can find!

Send submissions to DearGPLetters@gmail.com
Or DM on Twitter @dear_gp
Hashtag is #DearGP 

Passionate about PeerFest? 

Passionate about peer support and want to get involved in Peerfest19? 

Pre-Fest and Pitch-Fest.

You’ll have the opportunity to:

  • Shape this national event with your ideas, energy and passion.

  • Get help and support from us to develop your pitch for Peerfest19.

Event 1 - Pre-Fest on 2nd May

To bring together 40+ groups from across the country to generate ideas and shape the vision for Peerfest19.

What will I get from the day?

  • The opportunity to energise and inspire on what a peer support celebration should be about

  • A safe space for you to bounce ideas around the room and collaborate with others

  • Support and guidance from the National Planning team if you choose to prepare a pitch for our Pitch-Fest Event 2 on 15th May

  • Details on how to prepare a pitch application for Pitch-Fest

Apply for a place at Pre-Fest here.

Event 2 - Pitch-Fest on 15th May

A day for you to pitch your ideas for Peerfest19. You can pitch to run the whole event or just a slice. We want the day to feel like a community, not a competition.

What will happen on the day?

  • You will set up your pitch in the event hall

  • You will have the chance to create partnerships throughout the pitch time

  • At the end of the day, a judging panel from the National Planning Team will announce which pitch or pitches will go forward to deliver Peerfest19

  • Applications to to pitch at Pitch-Fest will open on 3rd May, after Pre-Fest

Apply for a pitch at Pitch-Fest here.

Peerfest19 will be celebrated sometime between July and December 2019. The date and how to book a place will be announced here - so keep a look out for updates.

Any questions about Peerfest19? Contact the peer support team at peerfest@mind.org.uk. To get a flavour of our Peerfest celebrations click on the links below, to see what we get up to each year.

Peerfest 2018  Peerfest 2017 | Peerfest 2016 | Previous Peerfests

 Gig Buddies for Good Mental Health - Brighton & Hove 

Gig Buddies for Good Mental Health (or GBMH) covers Brighton & Hove and the immediate surrounding area was launched 10 April. It matches adults experiencing mental health challenges with a volunteer who has similar interests, to go to events together that they both love.

The project is run by Synergy Creative Community CIC, and is in partnership with local charity Stay Up Late, who created the original Gig Buddies model for adults with Learning Disabilities. Stay Up Late's Gig Buddies project has been so successful we would now like to bring Gig Buddies to a wider audience of people who would benefit from the activities on offer.

You can find out more about the Gig Buddies model, and the work of our partner organisation Stay Up Late here.

If you would like to become a gig buddy volunteer or participant, or refer someone you think would benefit, please get in touch using the details below.


GBMH, Synergy Creative Community

c/o Community Base, 113 Queens Road, Brighton, BN1 3XG

Phone: 07877 574212

SUN Network - Cambridgeshire 

The SUN Network exists to make sure that everyone in Cambridgeshire has equitable access to high quality Mental health and/or Drug & Alcohol interventions and services at the time when it is needed.

They want to be the strongest voice around how mental health services should look across Cambridgeshire and that is the COLLECTIVE voice of their members. Join as a member and help improve mental health services and 'get the latest mental health, drug and alcohol news, involvement opportunities, training opportunities and chances to share your story!'

Visit the SUN Network website.

Lifecraft in Newmarket 

Matt Hancock, MP for West Suffolk and Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, and Rachel Hood, Mayor of Newmarket attended the launch of Lifecraft's Newmarket Hub 5 April.


Lifecraft has received funding to open an outreach hub in Newmarket:

  • Wednesdays: 12pm-4pm

  • Thursdays: 11.15am – 3.30pm

The next session will be 17th April, followed by 1st, 15th and 29th May 2019.

Find out about all of Lifecrafts groups and activities here.

Positive Mental Health Group - Birmingham 

Positive Mental Health Group - monthly networking meeting dates for 2018.

The group is open to anyone with an interest in promoting a greater awareness of mental health issues across the communities of Birmingham and Solihull.

Share information, news & views with statutory agencies, voluntary sector organisations, user groups - and individual users/carers/staff. Join one of the biggest mental health networking meetings in the Midlands, every month! Just turn up - no need to book.

Meetings include guest speakers, information table, light refreshments & a chance to chat and catch up.

Upcoming dates:

Tuesday 30th April – from 2.30pm to 4.30pm
Tuesday 28th May – from 2.30pm to 4.30pm
Tuesday 25th June – from 2.30pm to 4.30pm
Tuesday 30th July – from 2.30pm to 4.30pm
Tuesday 27th August – from 2.30pm to 4.30pm
Tuesday 24th September – from 2.30pm to 4.30pm
Tuesday 29th October – from 2.30pm to 4.30pm
Tuesday 26th November – from 2.30pm to 4.30pm
Tuesday 17th December – from 2.30pm to 4.30pm

ALL MEETINGS ARE HELD AT - Cafe, 38 - 40 Holloway Circus, Birmingham city centre B1 1EQ

Just a short walk from all city centre rail stations and bus stops. The cafe is located next to Birmingham LGBT Health & Wellbeing Centre, opposite the Chinese pagoda traffic island and the Radisson hotel.

Buses X61 and 63 stop at HF1 outside the cafe. The journey is just two stops from the Rotunda/Bullring centre, board buses outside the Boots store.

PALS (Patient Advice and Liaison Service) at BSMHFT can offer information on this group and other voluntary or user groups within Birmingham and Solihull - Phone 0800 953 0045

More information here.

The Bridge Collective - Exeter 

The Bridge Collective describe themselves as 'building a democratic community of mutual support run by people who have experiences, beliefs, and feelings that have sometimes been labelled as mental illness.'

They celebrated their 12 year anniversary 4 April.

You can find out what’s on here (pdf – poster download)

They have a range of groups and activities that include:

  • Music sessions

  • Art groups

  • Expert by Experience monthly meetings

  • Newsletter working space

  • Walks

Exploring Mindfulness and Voices 

Date: Friday 3rd May

Time: 10am - 4.30pm

Venue: Brockway Room, Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square , WC1R 4RL London

Costs: £12 for unwaged, self-funded £50-£100, private and statutory £125

Trainer: Andy Phee


Using mindfulness practice to support others and ourselves

A day of practice, exploration and reflection, suitable for hearing voices group facilitators, mental health workers and people living with voices or distressing beliefs.

WORKSHOP CONTENT: The workshop includes mindfulness practices throughout the day and interactive exercises in pairs and small groups. We aim to explore:

  • Grounding and promoting safety

  • Mindfulness practices in everyday life

  • The breath and the body in mindfulness practice

  • Mindfulness meditation practices and adaptions

  • Mindful Movement

  • Mindful listening and being with others mindfully

  • Additionally, there will be space to discuss

  • Why mindfulness can be helpful

  • When mindfulness may and may not be helpful

  • Trauma sensitive mindfulness

  • The current evidence base for mindfulness and voice hearing and paranoia

  • Materials to support mindfulness practice such as guided recordings

  • Mindfulness and other approaches and therapies.

  • Starting a mindfulness practice and practising together in groups


Andy Phee. Andy's background was in community mental health nursing. He facilitated a Hearing Voices Group in Camden for many years. More recently since training to teach mindfulness, he has been facilitating mindfulness groups for people experiencing distressing voices and paranoia. He has been practising meditation and mindfulness for 20 years.


  • £12 Unwaged

  • £50 Self-funding part-time earners, and students

  • £100 Self-funding full-time earners, and voluntary sector organisations

  • £125 Private and statutory organisations (including NHS)

Small Print: The full fee will be chargeable if you cancel less than 7 days before the event. 

Book your place here.

For more information on booking, please contact: Akiko Hart

Mind in Camden, Barnes House, 9-15 Camden Rd, London, NW1 9LQ

020 7241 8978 | ahart@mindincamden.org.uk

User-led Women's Mental Health Network - turn up the volume! 

The Women’s Mental Health Network (WMHN) is the latest project from Wish, a women’s user-led mental health charity.

Mental Health Network Logo.png

A partnership of voluntary organisations working across sectors, the WMHN aims to provide a user-led, campaigning platform to give women with mental health needs a voice, and drive forward change.

The network’s focus is to improve women’s experience of using statutory services in a range of settings, such as hospitals, prisons, drugs and alcohol, housing, social services, by influencing them to become more gender-specific.

We are currently consulting with women who have experience of the mental health and/or criminal justice system, to find out what changes in service provision they would like to see.

Please complete the survey to help shape the network.

If you would like this questionnaire to be sent to you in a different format or language please email womensmhnetwork@gmail.com. 

Let's Talk exhibition 

A photo series created by photographer Charlie Clift and artist Kate Forrester aims to make mental health issues visible.

Let’s Talk is a project dedicated to visualising what’s going on inside someone’s mind, featuring people who have struggled with their mental health with their inner thoughts painted across their face.

The pictures will be shown to the public in Guildhall Yard, London, from 12 May to 22 May

Read more here and visit the Let's Talk campaign page here.

In the news 

The Guardian

Can going to therapy become as straightforward as going to the gym? At Self Space, Jodie Cariss offers flexibility, online bookings and the chance to change therapist mid-treatment. But does it work? Stuart Jeffries tries it out.

Feature: My working week -'A woman wants to die. As a social worker, I help her see that life matters'. My job as a mental health social worker involves supporting people in crisis and advocating for others

BBC News

UWE Bristol students 'sought help' before deaths. A report into the death of 14 students who had taken their own lives found eight had already sought help for mental health issues. The University of the West of England (UWE) report stated the deaths were mostly among white male students whose average age was 21. Read the full story here.


Judges given new sentencing guidance for criminals with mental illnesses and learning difficulties. Criminals with mental illnesses and learning difficulties are to be sentenced according to new guidelines aiming to determine their level of responsibility for offences. Campaigners hailed a “big step” towards consistency in courts across England and Wales, but magistrates warned of a “lack of appropriate options” outside of imprisonment. Read more here.

Rights Info

Postcode lottery on children's mental health services: A study by the Children’s Commissioner has found that spending on child mental health services has fallen in more than a third of areas in England.The report revealed that while spending on services, such as school counsellors and drop-in centres, had risen  by 17 per cent overall, the rise only occurred in certain local areas. Read the full story here.

Disability News Service

Autistic authors’ guide maps out route to quality care. A new guide – written solely by autistic people – aims to show care providers, commissioners and inspectors how to provide “quality care” for other autistic people. An Independent Guide to Quality Care for Autistic People has been written by members of the National Autistic Taskforce (NAT) and has a “heavy emphasis” on developing choice and control for service-users.

Read the full article here.

The mother of Jodie Whitling, the disabled woman who took her own life after repeated safeguarding failings by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), has branded DWP’s responsepublished last week, to the parliamentary petition set up in her daughter’s name “a joke”. Read the full article here 

Dates for your calendar 

29 April in London: one day course on the impact of welfare reforms - For more information and to book a place please call 020 7354 6433 or email training@centralcare.co.uk

03 May in York: 'A Disorder for Everyone!' - book your place please click here

12 May internationally: Emerging Proud Day - Click here for more information

 13-19 May Mental Health Awareness Week Download the resources pack and add your own event to the activity map, please click here.

 03 June in London Creative Strategies for Peer support Engagement interactive workshop. Click here for more information.

08 June in Manchester: Extreme experiences - mental illnesses or danger gifts? 

Please email catonneil1009@gmail.com with any questions.

This is an ISPS UK event in association with Asylum Magazine and CCrAMHP

17 June in London: I is for insult, questionning ''borderline personality disorder'' - for more information please click here

01 to 05 July in England: National Co-production Week - For more information please click here

14 to 16 July in Norfolk: Sacred Space Weekend Retreat for mental health professionals with lived experience - Limited spaces; Shared Room: £249, Single Room £299, Fully inclusive of all meals - Email Katie at: mendthegap@hotmail.com - Find out more about the outstanding retreat venue in the beautiful Norfolk Broads here.

3-5 September in Nottingham: Refocus on Recovery recovery research conference. Alison Faulkner and David Crepaz-Keay will be keynote speakers. You can see the full list of speakers hereRegister here.

GOV.UK news 

Implementing the NHS Long Term Plan - events

NHS England and NHS Improvement are running two national events aimed at people who work in and use NHS services. Participants will hear directly from NHS leaders about the proposals and how they aim to improve the planning and delivery of care. There will also be group discussions so that people can explore the plans in more detail.


London: 3 April 2019

Leeds: 16 April 2019.


If you are interested in attending please email england.legislation@nhs.net to find out how to book a place.


The NHS Long Term Plan included suggested legislative changes to help implement the Plan faster and more effectively. These are set out in further details and now NHS staff, partner organisations and interested members of the public have the opportunity to give their views on our proposals.


You can read more information about the proposals on the NHS Long Term Plan website and then complete an online survey to share your views. The deadline for responses is 25th April 2019.


New Youth Charter to support young people across the country

The Youth Charter will reaffirm Government’s commitment to helping young people succeed and the Minister for Sport and Civil Society will work with sector to develop this work. 

'The charter will reaffirm Government’s commitment to give young people a strong voice on the issues they care about such as combating serious violence and knife crime, addressing mental and physical health challenges and concerns about the environment and climate change.'

Read more here.

New projects to strengthen families and keep children out of care

£84m for projects that support families, marking 30th anniversary of the Children Act

 Mental health and wellbeing support for NHS staff: government pledges overhaul

Plans to give staff immediate access to dedicated mental health support will be considered as part of the upcoming workforce implementation plan.


Quick Links

Our Website

Get to know NSUN in 3 minutes

Contact Us

Total Giving: donate to NSUN

The Giving Machine: raise money without any extra cost to you by shopping online