You cannot see? Open your eyes DWP!
Hello and welcome to the Support in Mind Scotland, Members Event edition of #Daneyblogs.
For those of you who don’t know, Support in Mind Scotland a national charity who seek to support and empower all those affected by mental illness, including family members, carers and supporters, and you can find more information about them here on their brand new, relaunched website: https://www.supportinmindscotland.org.uk/
I’m delighted to say that Support in Mind Scotland is a charity who have been in my life for the past 3 years now (Can’t believe 3 years have flown in so quick!). Yesterday’s Members Event was an uplifting reminder of just how fantastic they are, how connected they are with the people they help and how much they’ve done for me personally.
Support in Mind Scotland gave me my first professional internship back in the beginning of 2013 through the Queen Margaret University, Placement Speed Networking Event- which coincidentally took place again this week!.
I went into Support in Mind Scotland with my big heart and genuine intentions to help people, and they gave me their time, expertise and assistance to brush up my skills so I could thrive as a professional. I’m forever grateful to them for giving me a chance and for still being a key cheerleader of my work today.
So, whilst I could write all day about how fantastic they are overall, I’m excited to tell you about the key highlights from yesterday’s event (in other words, I’ll get to the point!)
Yesterday’s Member’s Event was just heart-warming from start to finish! We were delighted to see the official ‘all members in the room’ premiere of the fantastic film called – You Cannot See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZZSDDrFaO-Y
You Cannot See is an innovative film by the Life Skills Project in Dumfries, focusing on the difficulties people with mental health issues encounter when undergoing employment and benefits assessments.
From the chuckles of hearing “Deirdre up the Day Centre” over and over, to tears in our eyes of seeing just what a negative impact the Employment and Benefits assessments have had on people’s lives, this film is powerful and I highly recommend all of you watch it! It gives a real, no holds barred account of what life is really like for those who suffer with mental illness.
I openly admit I have struggled in the past with mental health issues, and being in that room yesterday with people who have faced bigger struggles than I have had in the past was humbling and a great reminder of just how lucky I am.
Watching the You Cannot See film just cemented my views that mental health still isn’t being taken seriously by DWP professionals and these ‘assessments’ are a disgrace and unfit for purpose.
With the film watched and my eyes dried from the couple tears that escaped from my emotions, next up was Karen Armstrong from The Scottish Government who spoke about Creating a Fairer Scotland. Now, Karen’s address really touched my heart for a couple of reasons, but most notably her genuine enthusiasm for helping people in need and for using all her resources to make a difference. She began telling us about mentoring, and about her mentor- straight away I envisaged this CEO type figure mentoring her through the mechanical aspects of her job, but, no! Her mentor is someone who is long term unemployed and has felt the bitter bite of the DWP’s degrading tactics, such as benefit sanctioning. She told us that she learns so much from her mentor, and I just think it speaks volumes and puts my faith back in the Scottish Government that they’re listening to real people who have real experience of this issue.
From discussing the Creating Fairer Scotland with Karen and then beginning group chats, I was very touched when Frances Simpson, CEO of Support in Mind made reference in her address to the Place of Safety project she and I worked very hard on last year. When I heard her say “We have Dane here who really led on this project…” I was bursting with pride and gratitude one year on.
The report for this project we worked on which focused on gathering the experiences of those who had been mentally unwell and had been placed in police custody is available here > https://www.supportinmindscotland.org.uk/a-safe-place-to-be
To still be a member of Support in Mind Scotland fills me with pride. To have worked on such an important project and have my name on the publication one year on fills me with pride. To now be in discussions with them about becoming a board member fills me with hope, the hope I can make a difference and play a part in helping other families who have suffered or have been affected by mental health issues get the support they need, and to live life to their fullest.