Talking Sense, THRU (Talk, Help, Relate, Understand), The Thanet Working Group
WINNER: Talking Sense
Talking Sense provides peer-led support for individuals over the age of 18 who have experienced voices and visions. They provide a confidential and safe space, reduce stigma and isolation, encourage the sharing of experiences and provide education and awareness of voices and visions to those who do not have lived experience. The group meets twice a month in a café where they learn from each other’s experiences and develop new ways of understanding and coping with unusual sensory perceptions. Talking Sense also runs workshops and speaks at conferences where they provide education to people without lived experience. These events help reduce stigma, increase understanding of unusual sensory perceptions, ensure lived experience perspectives and build the confidence of members by helping them recognise and develop their skills. The group is entirely peer-led and non-hierarchical, meaning that all facilitators are group members with lived experience, rather than professionals or volunteers, and they collectively make decisions on how to run the group based on their individual needs.
RUNNER-UP: THRU (Talk, Help, Relate, Understand)
THRU is a group for 16-25 year olds experiencing mental health difficulties as they navigate the transition into adulthood. There is no diagnosis required to join the group, they instead encourage the desire to start working towards better mental health. There are two established groups, offering up to 12 months of topic-focused, skills-based activities as well as a safe place to share in a support group style. The groups are encouraged to explore topics that build a person’s capacity to cope with life’s difficulties, including resilience, anxiety, self-esteem, confidence, communication, low mood and coping with setbacks. THRU encourages members decide what they would like to work on, which helps build their confidence that their experiences are valid and worth sharing. All facilitators have lived experience of mental health difficulties and many of the volunteers have been THRU group members in the past. This is a dynamic and evolving service that consistently asks for input and honest feedback from its users.
RUNNER-UP: The Thanet Working Group (TWG)
The Thanet Working Group was set up in June 2017 by mental health service users living with a diagnosed long-term mental health illness. Members work together to ascertain the gaps in mental health service provision within Thanet, an area recognised nationally as having some of the highest levels of mental health inequality. TWG comes up with ideas to address these gaps and creates initiatives that are for the people by the people. The group has set up and run a number of projects including a gardening project, befriending services, a drop in café and fundraising calendars. TWG is completely unfunded and self-organised and supported by SpeakUpCIC, a mental health support organisation where many of the members of TWG met. They have so far benefitted over 70 people, and also aim to inspire others in the community to seek the support they need to combat their mental health illness.