Tuesday, 26 June 2018

FOI response: Untapped Potential research #VOXScotland; £40K funding

Response today 26Jun18 from VOX Scotland to my FOI request about the Untapped Potential research funding:

"Dear Chrys,
Thank you for your email in relation to the Untapped Potential Report http://voxscotland.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/14183-Mental-Health-DRLL-Report-A4-Rev7.pdf

VOX, in partnership with the University of Strathclyde, the Mental Health Foundation and the Research Collective was awarded £40,000 in total fully from the Disability Research on Independent Living and Learning (DRILL). This was the world’s first major research programme led by disabled people which has disability related outcomes (agreed by the Big Lottery). 
The funding for the lived experience research collective (who created the questionnaire, wrote the report, and facilitated the focus group sessions) came to a total of £17,239.
The information about the focus groups, and statistics relating to the questionnaire are detailed within the report, together with the processes etc. Decisions about which areas we chose for focus groups were decided during a partnership steering group, and took into consideration a range of factors. The aim of the focus groups was to better understand the questionnaires findings.
Our aims and outcomes included for example, ensuring that people with lived experience were involved in the planning, preparation and facilitation of the research, and that the research itself identified barriers and developed recommendations to find solutions to those barriers.
Kind regards
Wendy McAuslan
VOX’s Development Coordinator"

and my reply:

"Dear Wendy

Thanks for responding.

You say that the funding for the research collective came to £17,239, therefore I have to assume that the remainder of the £40K went to VOX, University of Strathclyde and MHF for management, governance etc?

I know that these amounts are peanuts compared to the funding that "scientific" academics receive in Scotland for Mental Health Research eg Prof Andy Gumley's Empower £1.5million project, the monies which Prof Stephen Lawrie and his colleagues at SMHRN/NRSMH  receive which amounts to millions.  In addition to their big salaries and other perks related to their positions.

However some of us are working for free to improve MH services in Scotland, it's even costing us to do so.  There's no money to be made in whistleblowing about psychiatric abuse or in advocating for people who are unable to speak up for themselves and/or may require the support of an independent voice.

Regards, Chrys

cc academics, civil servants"


Here is an FOI request Email sent last night, 13 June 2018, after attending the Untapped Potential Launch at the Insight Institute, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, to Lee Knifton, Head of Scotland at the Mental Health Foundation and joint lead at the Centre for Health Policy:

"Dear Mr Knifton

This is an FOI request.

I attended today's launch of the Untapped Potential Report Launch, Public Life Matters, at the Insight Institute, and have some questions about this.

Firstly can you please send me a digital copy of this report, I didn't pick up the glossy report before leaving to catch my bus back to Fife and cannot find a copy anywhere online.  Thank you.

I would like to know the funding amounts for this research, where it came from, how much was awarded from each funder, the total amount.  I would also like a copy of expenditure, wages paid to researchers, amount spent on resources for undertaking research, an income and expenditure balance sheet.

Can you please send me details of the research processes and outcomes, statistics about questionnaires, focus groups, numbers attended, in which areas of Scotland, how people were chosen.  I live in Fife and there was no focus group here. 

Can you please confirm receipt of this request, thank you.

Regards, Chrys

cc Neil Quinn; Wendy McAuslan"

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)​

Tweets from Untapped Potential Launch:

Last night on twitter I heard from a fellow Mother Carer who had also been at the launch and had read through the research report:

"From such a tiny sample of 249 Qrs & 20 participating in focus group over 6 areas in Scotland (average 3 per location) that authors of #UntappedPotential have determined that their 19 recommendations are correct to publish for the whole of SCOTLAND!!!


"That was actually another thing I noted that for all the transparency & stretching of data to craft it into the glossy publication no mention of how much money was allocated 4 this lightweight research & what financial gain did 7 authors receive!

This spurred me on to make the FOI request to find out more information.  I was disappointed with the event, hadn't realised beforehand that the "research collective" was more of the same folk (usual suspects) with links to VOX Scotland, including their Development Co-ordinator Wendy McAuslan who project managed the research. 

I also had concerns about the way that people shared their personal experiences, disclosing.  I used to describe this as being a "performing monkey", having been in that position many years ago, manipulated by the organ grinder or paid worker.  It felt yesterday that we were going back not forward, in terms of MH user/survivor research.

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)

Friday, 22 June 2018

Monday, 18 June 2018

"I became a victim of a sexual predator on the (Lomond) ward"

Tweets just now:

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Labi Siffre - Something Inside So Strong

#SeeMe Lived Experience Research Collective: promoting their own voices; peddling their books

I didn't enjoy the Lived Experience Research Collective launch of their Untapped Potential report on Wednesday 13 June at the Insight Institute, University of Strathclyde.  It took me a few days to recover, to get my energy back, was drained on Thursday.

What bothered me most was the exploitation of vulnerable people.  I witnessed this on Wednesday.  Spoke out, got silenced.  By Mrs Syrett.

Tweets written this morning:

"Michel Syrett has combined a career as a writer on business and management in the Times, the Sunday Times, Management Today, Director, Asian Business, and the South china Morning Post with academic research for business schools such as Cranfield and Roffey Park. He is author of 20 books and reports, including three published by The Economist, the most recent of which is Managing Uncertainty" from Amazon

[My opinion: Mr Syrett is apparently an experienced academic researcher and writer on business management.  However he's not up to the mark when doing mental health action research.  The Untapped Potential research was poor, only 20 people in 6 focus groups, no one-to-one interviews or indepth recording of people's views.  Rather it was the Research Collective voices which were heard, the loudest of those his.  And peddling his books via the Research Collective .org website is a step too far, shameful self promotion.]  
Scotland deserves much better mental health user/survivor led research so that we can hear a wide range of voices reflected in reports not just the researchers.


14 June 2018: FOI request: Untapped Potential research, report, funding; "The Foundation"

16 June 2018: VOX Scotland "peer research": ever decreasing circles; out of kilter

Saturday, 16 June 2018

VOX Scotland "peer research": ever decreasing circles; out of kilter

out of kilter: out of harmony or balance; Oxford Dictionaries


I attended the Untapped Potential Launch on 13 June 2018 at the Insight Institute, University of Strathclyde, to hear about the work of the Research Collective, only to find out that it was the "usual suspects", VOX Scotland cronies in the Mental Health Foundation fold, with Scottish Recovery Network (SRN) chums and See Me Scotland input.  

It got even worse as the event proceeded with presentations by unpaid "lived experience" folk who were over-disclosing and vulnerable, I say this from many years of experience, viewing what I call "performing monkey" behaviour, "organ grinder" paid workers at fault.  It can be damaging and so I found it very difficult to sit through, the lack of insight by some paid "peer researchers" who I knew well from 10yrs ago when first getting involved in MH recovery and Peer Support via SRN.  Others I know from brief acquaintance over the years and who seem to have done well out of their "lived experience", influencing agendas, ticking boxes and getting paid for doing so.  

Attempts were made to silence me when I asked a question during a presentation, by the partner of the lead Peer Researcher who is also herself a Peer Researcher at the Mental Health and Wellbeing Unit, Gartnavel, University of Glasgow.  Keeping it in the family, all the best to them both.  People have bills to pay. 

I'd heard the university researcher speak in tandem with Prof Andy Gumley at the March 2017 'Psychosis & Complex MH Faculty event' BPS/DCP in Stirling University, in praise of psychiatric treatment and MH Nurses, from the service user perspective. This was when I was still heading for a PhD, Clinical Psychology, University of Edinburgh, supervisor Prof Schwannauer, mentor Gumley.  PhD withdrawn May 2017.  My experience of MH Nurses hasn't been positive, similar to many other folks' and there wasn't that balance during their Mar17 presentation.  

Balansnummer from omphalos on Vimeo.

A quote from SDSS website about the Untapped Potential event:

"VOX, the Mental Health Foundation, and the Centre for Health Policy (University of Strathclyde) have undertaken a co-produced piece of research together with the Research Collective (researchers with lived experience of mental health problems) who led the project and undertook the research. The project looked at barriers to public life, and ways of increasing the civic and public participation of people with mental health problems."

Thursday, 14 June 2018:  FOI request: Untapped Potential research, report, funding; "The Foundation"

I hold highly paid academics and ScotGov civil servants most responsible for the tokenistic involvement of people with lived experience of mental health services and challenges.  Setting us against each other to divert attention from their incompetence and inability to shift abusive systems and improve the lives of those with "mental illness".  Narrow corridors and pet projects within their ivory towers, keeping them in comfort and their cohort of "service users", and their carers, loyal.  

Scottish survivor Mothers and Others deserve better.  In my opinion.


Tweets later today upon seeing a link shared to Unlocked Potential report:

If I had a hammer 🎸🎵

Recorded just now, one take with one wobbly note on the "woo oo oo oo" at the end! Och well, nothing's perfect.

guitar out, first time in a while ... 🎸🎵


Thursday, 14 June 2018

Centrestage Choir at Alliance Scotland Conference Glasgow 4Jun18

on Burntisland to Aberdour path with bike 6Jun18

wee music videos of singer & piper on Buchanan Street, Glasgow, 13Jun18

Two selfie videos taken on Buchanan Street, Glasgow, before attending a Research Collective launch of a research project, Untapped Potential, into Public Life Matters for people experiencing mental health challenges, at the Insight Institute, Strathclyde University. 


Sunday, 10 June 2018

I don’t want this isolation #HoleOusia #omphalos

I don’t want this isolation: Hole Ousia

"I have experienced the corridors of St John’s Hospital, Livingston, from different vantages.
This film is actually an attack on rigid medical determinism. It is an attack on academia and science that has been confined to narrow corridors and closed committee rooms. Such approaches, isolated as they are from philosophy and the real world, have the potential to cause harm to many [the ‘others’].

I don't want this isolation from omphalos on Vimeo.

Music credit: ‘Humility’ by Gorillaz.

Two quotes by the Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer: