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SALFORD MENTAL HEALTH CUTS CAMPAIGNERS VICTIMISATION CLAIM
 

Star date: 8th November 2012

Mental Health Hell In Salford: Part Two

THEY CAN'T BE VICTIMISING PEOPLE WITH MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEMS – CAN THEY?

Drop-in groups closed. Psychology support groups on hold. More suicide attempts. While the bottom line bureaucrats and politicians look for cuts, in the real world of people suffering with mental health issues it's getting critical.

Now campaigners against those cuts believe they are being victimised – "punishing vulnerable people and making them afraid to speak out."

UPDATE: Friday 9th November: Another campaigner barred from drop-ins

Full details here…


Mental Health Hell In Salford: Part Two

For Mental Health Hell In Salford: Part One click here


It must be hard enough coming out in public and admitting you've got mental health issues. It must be even harder to go out into the community campaigning to save mental health services, and having your photo splashed all over the media. These are people whose voices are rarely heard, who rarely even come out of their house.

Yet they feel so passionately about defending their drop-in groups, where they can meet and socialise with like minded sufferers, they are willing to endure whatever needs to be endured.

The campaign against cuts to those drop-in groups first reared its public head, taking the protest to City Mayor Ian Stewart in September (see here). And the small group of service users and carers who could handle the pressure told the Salford Star… "It's very scary, it's not something we find easy and we're all absolutely trembling. We're just a gang of ordinary people, quite nervous, trying to make this man understand that there's a lot at stake…"

Even within this group, some who turned up on the day couldn't cope and had to leave. In the following weeks, service users elected the United Service Users Committee, or USUC, to speak and campaign on their behalf.

Since confronting the Mayor, USUC has jointly held a well attended public meeting (see here), faced up Ed Miliband (see here), and joined marches and rallies in Manchester and London (see here). Now USUC members claim they are being targeted and victimised by Greater Manchester West Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust for speaking out against potential cuts to services.

In Part One of Mental Health Hell In Salford we reported how Rob, a man with severe mental health problems and suicidal tendencies, was rejected by the Trust and arrested by the police when desperately seeking help. His partner and carer, and Chair of USUC, Vee Ball, believes his treatment was linked to his campaigning activities.

"I have an issue with the care of Rob through the Trust; however they had been giving him care up to this point" she explains "Since we formed USUC he has been getting more and more cold shouldered. His CPN [Community Psychiatric Nurse] who he trusted, has been taken off him, and there was a catalogue of events that ended with his distress and arrest.

"We do believe that it is a direct result of his involvement with USUC – they've even made reference to it" she adds "Even though he has a rare disorder which isn't going away, they've noted that he's been in this campaign and out and about and, `therefore you're okay', which is appalling."

Following the incident when the police were called, Rob was banned from attending drop-ins for a month. And the Trust is also citing the incident as one of the reasons (along with another incident at Ramsgate House) why all drop-ins have been temporarily closed down for a `security review', with no date, as yet, when they will re-open.

However, there was no apparent breech of security at Cromwell House, as Rob never got through the buzzer entry door when he turned up asking for help. Furthermore, the incident didn't happen during any drop-in session. Yet it's only the drop-in sessions that have been closed. The building remains open for staff working there and service users attending meetings. Something doesn't appear right. And the affects have already begun to be felt.

"We're shocked and concerned by this action, which seems merely to target the drop-in centre" says Vee "The situation is creating havoc with service users, leaving them alone and isolated in their houses. One of our campaigners became stressed that she couldn't access the drop-in and had been left alone and isolated. She tried to kill herself and was taken to Meadowbrook on suicide watch."

As we reported in Part One, Rob has also tried to take his life again since the incident on 24th October… "I've been left 24 hours around the clock to care for Rob with no support for me or him, nor any promise of support" says Vee "The lack of care is evident. What do they want? For him to successfully kill himself and then he's off their books? And one less gobby person to fight to save the  drop-ins."

Meanwhile Rob and Steve Cullen, Vice Chair of USUC, have also had their psychology support group `deferred', and Steve, who has a CPA (Care Programme Approach) interview coming up, is dreading the results.

"I think they will try and get me discharged from the service so I can't access the drop-in, even though I know I need it" he says "A lot of things are going on in my personal life and I rely on the support I get from other service users. If they take that support away I'm going to be left basically on my own."

Drop-in centres closed for a `security review': psychology support groups on hold: little support for certain severe sufferers. What is going on?

"It seems to USUC that the Trust is targeting committee members who have the strongest voices, to pick on their weaknesses" says Steve.

And his belief is underlined by Vee…

"It's like Mafia sanctions on certain people to eradicate them and divide and conquer" she argues "Other service users who don't have a voice are not going to be happy about relying on our leadership because they feel they've been punished.

"We feel they are trying to break down the united front we've got with other service users" she concludes "We think this is their way of breaking down the committee and its strength of purpose to save these drop-ins by punishing vulnerable people and making them afraid to speak out."

Comments from those who haven't been out campaigning include…

• "I have been coming to Cromwell House for a few years, if you close the drop-ins it could make a lot of people poorly, especially those who live on their own. I hope you read all this and don't put it on one side."

• "The drop-in has changed my life. If it was to close I don't know what I'd do, please I hope it stays open."

• "The support you get off the other service users kept me alive at times when I felt that I couldn't cope with my illness."


The fight to save the drop-ins from Salford City Council cuts continues…

* The Salford Star asked the Greater Manchester West Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust to comment on all these allegations. Gill Green, Director of Nursing and Operations responded…

"GMW took the decision to temporarily close the drop-ins at Cromwell and Ramsgate House whilst we conduct a full security review of both Cromwell and Ramsgate House and we will action recommendations from that review. As soon as all additional security work has been concluded the drop-in facilities will be reopened.

"The safety and security of staff, service users and carers remain our top priority. We are looking carefully at what has happened to see if there are any lessons to be learned. Whilst serious, these incidents are uncommon, however, we will continue to work with our staff, service users and carers to keep them safe when providing and accessing mental health services."

UPDATE: FRIDAY 9TH NOVEMBER

Another campaigner barred from drop-ins!!!

Steve Cullen, Vice Chair of U.S.U.C, has, we understand, been barred from attending drop-in groups – for trying to help Rob when he arrived at Cromwell House looking for help, only to be met by the police…

"I've been barred for going to raise the alarm on a suicidal man" Steve told the Salford Star "What are we supposed to do? Nothing? And live with that for the rest of my life?

"I went to Cromwell house as a fellow service user, friend and more importantly family member" he added "The Carers Charter promises to treat carers with respect, which includes family members, and to be willing to listen to their views over service users' care and needs. Which in this case they have not. It seems like our U.S.U.C. members are being punished, victimised and discriminated against for having a strong voice."

Yes wrote
at 19:39:37 on 10 November 2012
Vee Ball---answer-- One in salford. Yes it is really srap but htat is the sort of place we are living in.
 
VERY CONCERNED wrote
at 18:50:52 on 10 November 2012
This is only the tip of the iceberg there is much more which people dont want to listen to maybe campaigns are all that is needed
 
Vee Ball wrote
at 07:37:26 on 10 November 2012
What Kind of a Mental Health Service shuts the doors of a support service to a suicidal man and punishes him for being so. Also punishes one of his relatives for asking to speak to the guys phychiatrist to get help for him. This is appalling and this service is a trust with accolaides and I think those who award them should know they are a bunch of charlotens who dont care about the people they treat. That guy is my partner and no one professional has come to help him even since that night.This is a clear case of medical negligence and they are going to be taken to task for this. We will continue to fight our campaign harder than ever now but will now include exposing these professionals and their behaviour to vulnerable ill people. Well GMWMHT we have a zero tolerance for bullying tactics that make ill people afraid and use them as porns to threaten other vulnerable users of your service. My partners illness stems from abusers actions and the people he turned to and trusted to help him heal further abused him.
 
Not Happy wrote
at 07:36:31 on 10 November 2012
THEY CAN'T BE VICTIMISING PEOPLE WITH MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEMS – CAN THEY? yes, they can, yes, this is what they are doing, it now seems that if you complain about what happens in the drop in or even what happens out side the drop in you get barred from going in the drop in. Why is this you may ask, it's because the people involved in this voiced there opinion. But because they where trying to get there point over they were called wild and abusive by a certain CPN (who in my opinion hasn’t got a clue about people with mental heath problems in the public sector). It seems that if you raise your voice and knock hard on doors trying to get help for some body that is in crises you are being abusive. These people (CPN) are supposed to be professionals in mental heath and under stand the difference between some one being abusive and trying to get help for some one who is in crises but because it had gone past five o’clock he didn’t want to know. People with Mental heath problems haven’t got a time table when a crisis happens it happens. So the people involved, one in crisis, and the one trying to help got penalized by being barred for a month. According to Gill Green the CPN used compassion, respect, dignity and professionalism. On this occasion I don’t think so I think both of them are being victimized for one, trying to get help, for two voicing there opinion, or is there an other reason, is it because they are both on a committee called USUC United Service Users Committee and being a thorn in the side of Cromwell House.
 
Julie Mason wrote
at 06:03:07 on 09 November 2012
These drop in centres provide valuable places for support to people and their partners with illnesses. People need these much needed services and support in order to try and maintain some form of normality in their lives and try and help them gain confidence to look forward.
 
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