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Joe Kelly's Blog - disability arts online
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Joe Kelly blogs some reflections on the Survivor Movement / 15 March 2010

The Unstoppable Movement

''What we did was to start a movement that can’t be stopped. All it can do is grow.' Hans Weigant, 1985 Dutch Patients Council Foundation.

This rather wonderful quote, now part of survivor history, spurs me on to say that I am part of a movement - a movement that I am very proud to be a member of.

Sometimes the movement is extraordinary, as when I visited Uganda in Africa and met the wonderful delegates from over 35 countries discussing the important issues on user-dom.

Sometimes the movement is disappointing – as when I realised a good friend who is himself a user, and is also middle-aged - had never heard of the mental health service user/survivor movement.

I guess impairment will always get in the way. Our movement could be much improved in the UK if we had a national organisation and a national spokesperson. The apex on the pyramid of power has yet to emerge. There is a flourishing grass roots; a well-developed middle tier; but no apex or leading organisation.

I would urge activists in the middle tier to address this imperative. I realise hierarchies are not popular with service users but I don’t see an alternative. We need a main group with a leader who can be a spokesperson, an ambassador, a lobbyist, a networker and a co-ordinator. Lots of opportunities are being lost because of this deficit. We need to be effective nationally, regionally and locally.

On Monday 9 March 2010 I attended the 'Funding Social Care: Getting It Right For The Next Generation' conference at the Institution of Civil Engineers in Westminster. It was hosted by the Sir William Beveridge Foundation in association with the Centre for Citizen Participation and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

The main speaker was Peter Beresford OBE, a service user speaking very eloquently about social care for the elderly, especially the encroaching baby-boomer generation and the need for suitable funding to be available from taxation to meet their needs.

Discussion was led by a panel made up of Prof Alan Lee Williams; Julie Unwin CBE; Stephen Burke Counsel and Care; Julie Charles, Equalities National Council; Martin Green, English Community Care Association; Norman Lamb MP and Alan Wheatley, Green Party.

More than 50 people from associated community organisations were present. There was some good discussion followed by questions from the floor.

Also worth mentioning is the forthcoming event, 'A Pageant of Survivor History: Mental Patients in Poetry, Story and Song’ on Friday 19 March at Kingsley Hall, Powis Road E3 3HU (nearest tube Bromley-By-Bow]. For more details contact f.e.e.l.campaign@googlemail.com

It should be a very good night. There are some very good performer/poets on the bill including Peter Campbell and Frank Bangay. I shall be there.

'What we did was to start a movement that can’t be stopped...' If you want to an interesting compilation of the history of the Survivor Movement go to Andrew Roberts homepage

Keywords: mental health,poetry,survivor movement,