Sunday, 24 June 2018

Safe haven crisis Houses: here's a plan of action if I was in charge ...

Email sent to Fife Health & Social Care Partnership and others on Friday past, 22 June 2018:

Strapline: Safe haven crisis Houses: here's a plan of action

"Good morning Julie (and colleagues, plus elected members)

I was at the Royal Highland Show yesterday, it was a tonic to be back among farming folk, salt of the earth, where we used to go as a family when the boys were young, my husband working on the Milk Marketing Board stall, 1980's, when we lived at Rigside, Lanark.  I visited the sheep stalls, spoke to farmers about the Bluefaced Leicester crosses, many of which were new to me since the 1970's when I worked with a small flock on the Muirhead family farm.  I came back from the show tired but refreshed, remembering how therapeutic it was to work on the land, to rear animals, milk the cows, drive the tractor.  I hope to do some of that again in the future, if possible, especially working with sheep, maybe spinning wool, knitting garments from my own flock.

This morning I was thinking again of Safe haven crisis Houses in Fife for people experiencing extreme emotional distress, psychoses, altered mind states, lack of sleep.  Places of respite and refuge where Fife folk could drop by for a few hours to regain their equilibrium, to have a chat, be listened to, refreshments, maybe stay for a few nights to regulate sleep, do outdoor or indoor creative activities.  Staffed by a team who have a variety of life experience and qualifications but most of all are good listeners, compassionate, patient, friendly, wise and with a sense of humour.  Some volunteers with special skills to complement the work eg craftspeople, gardeners, bakers, musicians, artists etc.

Here's a plan of action, if I was in charge of the budget, development and operations management:
  • firstly fundraise, apply for monies, get the public interested and involved by promoting the plan, set up twitter, website, blog, to gather interest, to be transparent about what's happening, to get others onboard with the vision
  • [plan to] buy 3 properties, one in each Fife area, East, West, Central; semi-rural, on edge of village or town, bus route nearby; with some land to house outbuildings for activities, veg plot, grass to play games on, maybe a field to keep sheep in, near water would be even better, a river or the sea; they need not all be the same size of house, one might have more bedrooms for overnights, another a safe haven for drop-ins out of hours and weekends, another a mixture; this could be a phased plan, getting one house up and running first
  • set up a stakeholder group for reference, people whose knowledge and experience would benefit process, but not to have decision-making abilities; when Drayton Park Women's Crisis House was set up in 1995, Nurse Shirley McNicholas did this within a year, so she told me when I visited in 2016, she's still in charge there, a 12 ensuite-roomed house, Camden & Islington NHS Foundation Trust, some children can stay, they have a cook, aim is to help women avoid psychiatric inpatient treatment
  • recruit mentors to help advise, in different skills areas, people who have set up similar eg Leeds Survivor Led Crisis Centre which is a safe haven, was set up in 1999 by group of service users; there is also the Edinburgh Crisis Centre however it's not on a par with these other two crisis services, in my opinion, having visited them all
The key thing would be to move quickly on this development, not to be held back by organisations or groups who have other agendas.  It makes economic sense to set up alternatives to psychiatric treatment for people who are in crisis.  It costs around £3K/week/patient in Stratheden Hospital and in my experience the treatment is often iatrogenic, leads to revolving door patients with mental illness, never mind the risks of dormitory accommodation in a mixed gender ward when a person doesn't have full capacity. 

I'm now a mental health human rights campaigner because of personal experience but I also have community development worker experience since 1980, having set up many grassroots projects, empowering myself and others to benefit our communities of interest.  They are not exclusive, these parts of my life experience, and I can do both, be creative and a catalyst.

This year I've been doing more in the gardens of my council house at Springfield, see attached photos taken earlier this morning, of my wee greenhouse, growbags of veg, Lavenders, Honeysucks, pot plants on various surfaces which we can see from front and back doors.  I've been creating and maintaining a safe house for my son and I after the negative experiences of 2012.  Inside our home is also therapeutic and creative.  Some house plants, photos of grandchildren, various craftworks which I've created over the years, cross-stitch from 1990's/early 2000's before wearing glasses.  These days I'm into knitting again:

Wouldn't it be good if Fife was a leader in setting up Safe haven crisis Houses in Scotland?  Setting an example for others to follow. 

Thank you for listening. 

[Will attach the rest of the garden photos plus one or two Bluefaced Leicester Coloureds from yesterday in a follow-up Email, due to file size.]

Regards, Chrys"

Royal Highland Show 21Jun18: West Lothian Schools Pipe Band & Clydesdale horses:

Chrys Muirhead 
Safe Houses for Psychosis
writer, researcher, activist; cyclist, photographer, gardener, swimmer

BA Admin Management (best student); Postgrad Dip Community Education; Postgrad Cert TQFE (care subjects, 2008 Stirling University)​


Selection of photos from those sent:

crib of Strawberries & Dahlia
front door view of Lavenders, Honeysuckle, Hypericum etc
back garden view of tatties, other veg, Viburnum, Lavender, pot plants etc
back door view of wee greenhouse, crib, pot plants: Rhododendrums, Fuschias et al
at Royal Highland Show: Bluefaced Leicester Coloureds & Suffolk Mule (black face)

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