VoiceAbility supported CBUG volunteers Romano, Davide and Mark and Peer Mentors Maria and Jahanara to run two stalls at the St. Mungo’s Mental Health festival on Thursday 5th July.
Above: Mark (CBUG), Ani (VoiceAbility Peer Mentor Coordinator) and Jahanara (VoiceAbility admin volunteer).
The festival was great fun for everyone involved with activities like spray painting & graffiti workshop, drum playing, dancing and hand henna design. There was also a delicious grill, salads and drinks. Our volunteers made the most of this opportunity to promote the Peer Mentoring Project and CBUG with flyers, banners and forms.
All in all it was a great sunny day! 4 people showed an interest in becoming peer mentors, 5 people enquired about CBUG and a couple of people were also interested in Camden Frontline and the Sunday Project (substance misuse groups).
Above: drumming at the festival.
We had interesting conversations with many attendees who showed interest in VoiceAbility projects. We also did some networking with the stalls of other organisations who promote mental health awareness.
There was Yoga, music performance by the charity Key Changes, stand-up comedy, massage and flower arranging!
Camden commissioners hired an independent organisation called Tonic to do an evaluation of service user involvement in Camden. Tonic heard from 123 users of both mental health and drug & alcohol services and they have produced a report which you can read here.
Tonic: Camden Service User Engagement report
The report proposes the following options for the continuation of Camden involvement. Watch this space because commissioners will decide soon!
Option 1: Refine and review the current specification. Commission an independent organisation to co-ordinate service user involvement across the Borough for mental health and substance misuse. This service would operate as the ‘go to’, impartial, service for service users to share views, or for the council to seek input for consultations.
Option 1a: Commission two separate independent organisations to co-ordinate service user involvement; one for substance misuse and one for mental health.
Option 2: Offer independent funding directly for service user groups (e.g. directly from the council to service user groups e.g. CBUG)
Option 2a: Stipulate in new contract with independent provider that some of the budget should be retained for service users to apply for grant funding for new initiatives.
Option 3: Contract with a current commissioned provider to provide and coordinate independent service user involvement activity across the cohort (either substance misuse or mental health). Key to this option is that service users feel confident that their views will not affect their care from said provider and this function is seen as an adjunct to the other activities offered.
Option 4: Do not commission an independent service user involvement service outside of the current service providers, as they already promote service user engagement as part of their individual contracts. This would, however, not benefit from a resource to pool together all of the separate service user engagement and feedback into one place for providers and commissioners and service users may be concerned they cannot give honest feedback to the service providers about their care/treatment.