Tom Cahill to attend Viewpoint Forum - 24 August

If you have a mental health problem and see a GP or use mental health services and live in South East Herts, you are invited to a meeting on 24th August.

Our guest speaker is Tom Cahill, Chief Executive, Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (HPFT). This is an opportunity for service users to ask questions about local mental health services provided by HPFT, give feedback and to hear about plans for the delivery of services in the future.

The meeting will be run by Jacqui Deakin of Viewpoint, a mental health and drug and alcohol charity which empowers people to have a say about their services and monitor their development.

Reasonable travel expenses will be paid and tea and coffee will be available.

For more information, contact Jacqui Deakin at Viewpoint, 56 Bridge Rd East, Welwyn Garden City, AL7 1JU.

01707 328014

0795 2049398

Viewpoint Focus Group Reports - "Control and Restraint" and "Supported Housing"

Viewpoint recently held two workshops in partnership with NSUN, to enable its members to influence guidance on control and restraint and on supported housing. The information gathered at each of the workshops was collected into these reports by NSUN.

You can download the report on Control and Restraint here.

You can download the report on Housing here.


Hertfordshire Recovery Conference - Help choose the theme

We are the group planning and organising this year’s Recovery Conference – we are HPFT staff, third sector partners, service users and carer reps.


We would really value your feedback on possible themes and focus for this year’s conference.  All these topics would be developed with service users, carers and staff in mind.


Please select your first three preferences below in order of preference (i.e. 1 in the box for your first preference, 2 for your second preference, etc.)  Please feel welcome to add in any suggested topics or themes that you wish.  



Ranking 1-3

Proposed themes



Theme 1- Recovery oriented care planning (focus on how we work together to ensure a plan of care which both the staff member and the person who uses the services develop and agree together, as well as ensure we develop the principles of ‘Think Local, Act Personal’ focus on improving personalisation within services).



Theme 2 – Recovery Oriented Practice for People who are under the Mental Health Act (how we work to ensure that our practice is recovery oriented for those who are detained).



Theme 3 – Prevention within Mental Health Services (how we ensure that we work to build in prevention and wellbeing in all aspects of the work we do within our services, including implementing the principles of ‘Think Local, Act Personal and ensure we make this real for people).



Theme 4 – Therapeutic approaches within Recovery (e.g. using solution focused questions, using motivational interviewing, using problem solving, arts and creative therapies)



Theme 5 – Transitions and journeys across services – how we best work with people on their Recovery journey as they move from our services onwards or across different services in Hertfordshire – connections and links, transitions).



Theme 6 – Communications with people who use our services and carers – how we make our communication at all levels (e.g. written, conversations) recovery oriented and collaborative.



Theme 7 – Recovery College – What a Recovery College brings, how this might work, examples of great practice elsewhere, how we might want this to work for us (a Recovery College uses an educational and teaching model rather than a therapeutic model, and provides courses and workshops that people can choose to attend (please see attached IMROC briefing paper for more information)

Other Suggestions





Please send your responses to by Friday 29th May.  We will then use this feedback to agree the primary themes for the conference.

Volunteer experienced minute takers needed

Viewpoint are looking for volunteers to type up minutes from meetings.

We require people who have experience of minute taking and can produce minutes with minimal supervision.

We need either or both of the following:

·       Volunteers who can travel around the county to take minutes at forums and events. Travel expenses will be paid.

·       Volunteers who can work from home and transcribe minutes from recorded meetings. These will be sent on to you. Headphones can be provided.

In return, we offer an opportunity for you to build your skills and CV. Plus the chance for you to give back to a charity and we offer a free DBS check. We require you to do an induction with us at the office in Welwyn Garden City. We hope you are able to join us.

Please contact Tracy on 01707 328014 or e-mail for an application pack.

We need you as a Trustee!

Help Us! - bEcome a trustee today

Help Us! - bEcome a trustee today

Viewpoint is a charity whose purpose is to use the views and expertise of people who use mental health and drug and alcohol services in Hertfordshire to bring about change for the better. We also deliver user led training and mental health promotion.

By becoming a Trustee, you will be helping to make a difference to people’s lives and their experiences of the services that are set up to support them. You will be a pioneer in promoting user led services for the future.

Charity Trustees are unpaid volunteers. However, out of pocket expenses are paid for travel. Trustees have and must accept ultimate responsibility for directing the affairs of a charity, and ensuring that it is solvent, well-run, and delivering the charitable outcomes for the benefit of the public for which it has been set up.

The committee meets every 6 weeks and our Trustees also try to volunteer their time to help with projects whenever they can.

In particular we would like to recruit Trustees who have the following expertise:

  • Fundraising capabilities
  • Financial experience
  • Personnel / HR experience
  • Marketing experience
  • Legal knowledge
  • Strategic planning capacity
  • Governance
  • Knowledge of mental health and / or drug and alcohol services

You can be co-opted onto the board if you miss the AGM, and if there are still vacancies for Trustees with certain expertise.

Please speak to Leslie Billy (CEO) on 01707 383641 or e-mail for further information.

We hope you will join us!

Viewpoint is looking for a Chair and more Trustees!

Viewpoint is an organisation which provide service user involvement in mental health and drug & alcohol across Hertfordshire. Established for over 10 years, we are a user led organisation which empowers people to use their experiences to improve services. We also provide training from the perspective of people with a personal experience.

The role of the Chair is to provide leadership and direction to the board of Trustees. The Chair’s aim is to enable the board to fulfill their responsibilities for the overall governance and strategic direction of the organisation.

 The main responsibilities of the chair are to:

Chair and organise board meetings and set agendas.

Provide leadership for the Board of Trustees in their role of setting the strategy and policy of the organisation.

Represent the organisation at appropriate events, meetings or functions.

Act as a spokesperson for the organisation where appropriate.

Attend and be a member of working groups when appropriate.

Liaise with Chief Executive to keep an overview of the organisation’s affairs and to provide support as appropriate.


The committee meets every 6 weeks.

 Please note this position is unpaid but out of pocket expenses will be reimbursed.

  Download the Chair Role Description here.

Please speak to Leslie Billy (CEO) on 01707 383641 or e-mail


We hope you will join us!

Service User Reviews of Mental Health Charities

Viewpoint has been asked by the Community Wellbeing Commissioning Team to help gather the views of service users about the voluntary sector mental health organisations they commission. They will use this feedback during contract reviews and to help them find areas of need in what they provide.


What are Viewpoint doing?

We will be holding a series of specific forums as well as Peer led workshops to find out your experiences of the voluntary sector organisations. We will also be collecting views via an online survey which can be accessed here.

Who should attend?

We would like people who have used any of the following services to attend.

 High Town Praetorian

Mind in Mid Herts

Turning Point

Herts Mind Network

Guideposts Trust

Herts Young Homeless

New Hope (previously Watford New Hope Trust)


Who is running it?

The meeting will be run by either a project worker for Viewpoint or by a supported Peer Reviewer who has personal experience of mental health problems. They will be there to listen to your views about the charities and pass this information back to the Commissioners.

 What feedback will I get?

The report, written by Viewpoint, will be available in early April by contacting us or looking on our website

 Who do I contact?

To find out more or to say that you would like to attend an event, contact Viewpoint using the details below. Alternatively, look in the events section to see what is on. (This section will be regularly updated)




I can’t attend but want to input

No problem, contact Viewpoint and we can have a chat with you so that your views can be included. There will also be a survey which can be filled in online or sent to you by post.


Contact us on:

Viewpoint, 56 Bridge Road East

Welwyn Garden City Al7 1JU

Tel: 01707 328014 


Reasonable travel expenses will be paid to attend this meeting 

Join Our Campaign for Service User Led Out of Hours Telephone Services

The members of the forum in East Hertsmere say there is a strong need for an out of hours telephone service for mental health service users in a crisis which is run by service users who will understand them. There is such a service in Lambeth. For further details click here


The more people who sign this petition and add their views, the stronger the case to present to commissioners and providers of mental health services.

 Please sign below to support our campaign.


Name *
Current Date
Current Date
Please tell us why an out of hours help line run by service users would help me or someone I care about. If you need more space, please write on the back of this page.



We need Peer Reviewers. Can you help?

Viewpoint has been asked to support the Community Wellbeing Team in reviewing the existing portfolio of voluntary sector mental health contracts in Hertfordshire that they commission and we need service users to help lead peer review workshops.

To ensure that service users are able to feedback their experiences for commissioners to use within their contract reviews, we will be using a variety of methods to hear what people say.

We believe that it is essential that this done by engaging service users as Peer Reviewers and we want you to contact us if you are interested. We are running a Peer Reviews planning workshop on the afternoon of Friday 16th January 2015 from 1pm – 2:30pm please can you confirm your availability to attend the workshop at your earliest opportunity.

The workshop will look at beginning to put in place the structure of the Peer Reviews that we would like to run in late Jan, Feb, and early March 2015; the Community Wellbeing Team need to have a report ready by the last week in March.


If you are interested in being a Peer Reviewer the contact Leslie on 01707 328014 or via 


Viewpoint AGM & proposed resolution

As you will hopefully know, Viewpoint is holding its Annual General Meeting (AGM) from 1pm to 4pm on 28th November 2014 at the Focolare Centre in Welwyn Garden City. This year we have 7 trustees standing for nomination as well as an important resolution to enable us to complete the next stage of changing our status to a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO)


As you may remember during our AGM on 25th October 2013, we asked for members’ approval to change our status from an unincorporated Charity to a Charitable Incorporated Organisation. This would enable us to provide a more stable platform for delivering the objects of Viewpoint while also providing security to the organisation and trustee board. The move will be looked on favourably by funders who expect good governance and takes advantage of the new structure as it was intended.


The process is well underway, with the CIO currently waiting to be accepted by the Charity Commission. The constitution is available for all members to read and it is important to note that the Object of the charity has not changed, nor are there restrictions on nominations to the trustee board. This process will not affect the day to day running of the organisation and has no impact on our aims and objectives. The name of Viewpoint will also not change.


In order to complete the next stage of the process, we need to ask members permission to dissolve Viewpoint and agree the transfer of assets and liabilities (such as our commissioned contracts and staff) to the new CIO. This is a technical procedure governed by the Charity Commission and must fall in line with our current constitution.


Our current constitution states that there needs to be a 2/3 (two thirds) majority agreement by members ‘present and voting’ to enable this to happen. We have set out in the resolution below that the dissolution will only occur once the new CIO has been accepted. Current trustees from Viewpoint will form the new board and nominations will continue as normal at the AGM next year.


The trustees have decided that postal voting will not be available for this resolution as they feel it is important for people to be able to ask questions at the AGM prior to the vote.


What if an agreement is not reached?

 The trustees of Viewpoint feel strongly that this is an important move for the organisation. As previously mentioned, it has been agreed in principle at the AGM in 2013 and this is the next stage in the process. Dissolving Viewpoint is simply a step in this process and will not result in a change of the services Viewpoint provides.


If the agreement is not reached then the trustees feel this will put the organisation at risk. The contracts managed by Herts County Council for the voluntary sector are due to be reviewed and we need to ensure we are in the best position to provide for our members.


The resolution which will be proposed at the AGM is as follows


As part of the change of status to a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) as agreed by members at the AGM on 25th October 2013, the trustees of Viewpoint propose that, subject to the successful registration of Viewpoint (the CIO) with the Charity Commission they will:

1.     Dissolve the Charity in accordance with Clause U of the constitution

2.     Transfer all assets and liabilities to Viewpoint CIO

If you have any questions about the resolution then please feel free to contact Leslie Billy on 01707 328014 or 

The September Ballyhoo Xtra is now available

After a bit of a delay, the first Ballyhoo Xtra is now available to download from our website.


This quarterly publication is where our members take charge. There is a guest editor who will write the main article and choose from other service user submissions on a particular subject. Anne Lee has bravely taken on the first edition and interviews two of her peers about the subject of benefits.

Our December issue will look at 'Service User led training' and we are open for submissions on this subject until 14th November. Please send your articles (up to 150 words), poems or pictures to . If they cannot be included in the next edition then we will endeavour to put them on the website.


All Viewpoint members who are on our mailing list will receive a copy of the Xtra in the post over the next few days.


We are also looking for more members to be on the Ballyhoo steering group. You will discuss and shape each edition of the Xtra and the staff at Viewpoint will format the newsletter for your approval. You will also help with the monthly Ballyhoo Bulletin which contains information from Viewpoint and other organisations rather than service user content and is aimed at keeping people up to date which what is going on. We welcome your comments and input on the website so please get involved! We aim to get back on track with releasing a new edition at the beginning of each month so please bear with us!

To download the latest edition and see our newsletter archive, visit the Newsletter page now.



Ballyhoo Feature Article - The Challenges of Benefits

The Coalition Government has made some radical changes to the system of social security over the past few years. This has left a lot of people uncertain about a rapidly changing system of social security.

  •  Is there still hope for the sick and vulnerable in society?

  •  How much does a person really know about the kind of financial support available to them when faced with an illness or disability?

  • Is there enough information readily available about the kind of support they will need?

  • Is the current system of benefits supporting the people who really need it?


Viewpoint Ballyhoo spoke to two people in similar situations about their experiences of ill health and how much support they receive from the Government. What kind of expectations did they have before and after their claims were submitted? Did the stress of such claims put further pressure on their illness making symptoms worse or was everything simple and manageable.


Case Study One

I was born with my illness and it has affected me my whole life both physically and mentally. Because of my “High Functioning” I came across to people as very intelligent especially to my parents who invested a lot of money into my education and skills training. I was under a lot of pressure to do well in life but my special needs were not addressed. My mother passed away when I was 19 and in my 20s I took on a life of drink, drugs and dangerous living in order to escape the pain. During this time I was crying out for help but no one was to be able to understand me. I could not get a diagnosis for my illness. In 2002 I totally went off the rails and went abroad to have a better life. Eventually I found help from an alternative therapist who gave me the tools I needed to survive. Still undiagnosed I had a 10 year battle for survival which lead me to end up in Hertford mind in September 2012.

Case Study Two

I just did what I thought was right. We were all brought up to work hard, conform, buy a house, save and make a good living. Before my illness I did everything right? I held down a job paid my mortgage saved what I could. The system was supposed to be there for me and I feel let down.

Case Study One

I have always been in and out of the system and have learned to work it well for survival I do my research and find the loopholes to get what I need its hard work but I am on my own in this world I need to survive. 

Case Study Two

The first time I applied for benefits I used my local CAB and they helped with everything, I managed to get Incapacity Benefit and stayed out of work for a while, but I got bored and restless and wanted to earn a living. I returned to work as I am a proud person and I enjoy supporting myself. I saw the adverts on TV and cancelled my claim for benefits straight away, not realising the consequences of this action. I had to stop working again I became ill. I went down my local CAB again and this time they informed me that the benefits had changed and I had to make a new claim for DLA. I did as I was asked and heard nothing back, I had to fill in 3 forms and make plenty of visits to the CAB to chase up the paperwork it was a very distressing time. I was so fortunate to have the support of Hertford mind without it I don’t know what I would have done. Not only was I sick but the financial burden on top of this was hard to bear my savings were running out and I was at my wits end.

Case Study One

My mind and body slowly begun to breakdown and while in Hertford Mind the other service users were bringing my awareness into the fact that I was maybe having a breakdown and should change my benefit claim from Jobseekers onto ESA. The thought scared me and I resisted until I was so ill I knew I needed to slow down. Still undiagnosed I went to the doctor for some tablets to calm me down. It wasn’t until I reached crisis point in Jan 2013 that I pushed for a diagnosis. Then came the dreaded ATOS test. I attended Hertford Mind for emotional support and picked up around me that there was a general feeling of negativity towards the changes in the benefits system.  There were people around me who had had their lifetime awards taken away and there was a lot of confusion and anxiety towards the changes. I was told by most people that there was no chance on passing the test, this put me under a lot of stress as I knew I could no longer cope supporting myself, I had built up a lot of debt and was still sleeping on a mattress on the floor things were tough.

 Case Study Two

I went for my ATOS test and to my surprise I did not gain any points. I was seen by this person who to me did not look like she had any medical qualifications; she coldly went over the test questions with me. I had plenty of evidence from my doctor and psychiatrist this was all ignored, I was angry and frustrated my health both physical and mental were not in a very good state and I felt lost and hopeless. I had worked hard all my life and I thought the system would be there for me, I paid my taxes like I was told to do and I return I was promised financial aid. It feels like the money only goes to people that manage to blag the system and does not help the people that really need it.

Case Study One

I passed my ATOS test and was given 18 months I was so relived, for the first time since I lost my mother I felt supported, the money was not a lot but is was enough and it meant I could have a break and concentrate on my recovery. I was grateful. I did feel rather guilty at my support group though, there were people failing around me it was a stressful time.

Case Study Two

Both my ESA and DLA went to tribunal. I managed to get my ESA overruled and was given 18 months. The DLA tribunal was awful. There was myself my representative and 3 people on the panel. I gave them all the supporting evidence I had and I was still made to feel like I should be grateful for the minimum of help. I have a degenerate condition and I worry about the future and how I am going to manage.  I feel I could be more supported.

Both participants are now receiving ESA and both work 10 hours a week earning up to the 101.00 threshold.

Have you had a similar experience? Can you offer any advice to others who are having these problems. Add you comments below.

World Mental Health Day funding available in Broxbourne and East Herts

A small amount of funding has been made available to support bids for locality based events or activities that will promote positive mental health on World Mental Health Day in the Broxbourne and East Herts area.


NHS Hertfordshire stated:

Life Without Substance is a short animation produced by John Church to raise awareness and reduce discrimination surrounding the subject of mental health

'We are able to support bids for small amounts of funding for locality based events or activities that will promote positive mental health on World Mental Health Day. We want these events and activities to promote Mental Health awareness and education and help reduce stigma associated with mental ill health. New innovative and interesting ideas and ways of doing this are always welcome.


We would especially welcome bids for funds from organisations in the Broxbourne, Cheshunt and Waltham Cross areas.


If you think you have an idea or project that would fit with what we are trying to achieve please send a brief description of the initiative to Leslie Billy ( Viewpoint or Freepost RSHZ-UKGK-RUJJ, Viewpoint, 56 Bridge Road East, Welwyn Garden City, AL7 1JU.


Viewpoint and Carers in Herts will consider this and advise you of the outcome, they will try and do this within a day of receiving your application so you will know the outcome with minimum of delay.'

Download the Factsheet here and download the application form here.


The Theme this year is 'Living with Schizophrenia' and people and organisations across Hertfordshire will be celebrating the day with events and activities.


We want these events and activities to promote Mental Health awareness and education and help reduce stigma associated with mental ill health. New innovative and interesting ideas and ways of doing this are always welcome.

Subscribe to the Viewpoint Ballyhoo

Viewpoint has introduced a new monthly publication to improve the way we communicate with our members.

The Ballyhoo is designed to keep you up to date with Viewpoint events and information from relevant organisations is an easy way. Supported by our website, we hope to make our members feel more connected to what is going on.

Every 3 months, the Ballyhoo is replaced by the Xtra, a longer edition where our members take over. They will write the main article and choose from submissions so that you can hear more from the user perspective on certain issues.

If you want to see the published editions, go to our newsletter page to download them. It is still a work in progress so please feedback any comments or ideas via our contact page.

If you want to recieve the newsletter automaticllay then don't forget to subscribe to the mailing list.

Hertfordshire Transgender Health Needs Assessment

A new piece of research by Viewpoint on the health needs of the transgender community has been launched in Hertfordshire

Members of the Steering Group

Viewpoint has produced a unique piece of research into the health needs of the transgender community in Hertfordshire which has uncovered a large amount of unmet need and suffering. We commissioned Sonny van Eden, a trans man, to lead the research in order to give transgender people a voice to say what sort of help they need and provide information about support and resources.

We have been funded by Herts County Council, the local NHS and Hertfordshire Health Watch and supported by Public Health. Until recently, no services existed for the transgender community in Hertfordshire and this is the first piece of research in the country looking specifically at their health needs.

As a result of the report, Hertfordshire’s Drug & Alcohol Thriving Families Service has recruited six support workers who are Transgender Champions. One of them is based at HM The Mount Prison.

The Transgender Health Needs Assessment Report lists 22 recommendations which have been endorsed by the Diversity Board. The Report has been presented to the Public Health Board.

The Report was launched on 15th October in Watford and over 50 people attended. A Steering Group is developing an action plan to implement the recommendations. If you are interested in getting involved and finding out more, please email or call 01707 328014. To download the report, click on this link.