If you have recently joined the hub, do introduce yourself to others. How are you involved in learning and teaching about mental health?  What are you hoping to get out of membership?  What are the challenges you are currently grappling with? What might you have to offer to others in the network?  If you have been here for some time, do provide an update.

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Hello - I'm Julie - the best I can offer is the gift of myself - use my experience if it is of any value to you

I am an Irish-heritage survivor of domestic violence, self harm and homelessness who lives with physical disablement and emotional fragility on a day to day basis - I am proud to be a resilient and joyful older woman who has been a campaigner and activist for 30 years

My personal experience with my 'family of choice' - the three learning disabled friends who came to share my home for 16 years - led to the setting up in 1989 of ADVOCACY IN ACTION - a small unfunded and often underground human rights social enterprise of people who have been on the forefront of service-user collaboration for 23 years and who have an international reputation with awards and commendations here in the UK and abroad.

I have supported over 300 service user groups to set up, to problem solve or to evaluate themselves - across the UK and wider, in Italy, Eire, Slovenia and India - I have worked across the boundaries of age, language, culture and 'cognitive difference' - and I have never met a human being who could not testify to their own life experience and join in with helping others to learn from it - I recently worked alongside a team of older researchers in their 70s to 90s - and I also conducted research with men and women who used noises signs and sounds to communicate their experiences of leaving institutions. I have developed and conducted peer led research for 30 years

My professional colleagues in Advocacy in Action include older street drinkers and street beggars, learning disabled citizens, asylum seekers and Travellers, people labelled as complex and chaotic, survivors of every abuse and cruelty imaginable and those who walk on the outside of life - we are all proud to have 'challenging behaviour' and we take joy in our small personal survivals and achievement

Professionally we have been involved at the University of Nottingham since 1990 in course development, delivery and evaluation - creating new service-user led learning and assessment frameworks in the 90s and more recently in the 00s, the BA and MA Social Work recruitment and selection procedure - we have taught on over 40 university courses in the UK at undergraduate, post graduate and post qualifying level over the last few years

I was very privileged to be awarded a visiting lectureship from the University of Nottingham in 1998 for my contribution to social work education - and I am just about to be totally honoured by another local university but I am not allowed to say how at the moment!!

I worked with the GSCC to develop the role of service-user assessor and validator in the HIE social work degree programme re-approvals and personally enjoyed meeting academic colleagues across the country within this more formal appointment

Outside of Advocacy in Action - which I still direct - I am the founder of FIANN (Friendly Irish Action Nottingham and Notts) - a very grassroots group serving local Irish communities - we recently made a film about 'going home' and the healing of belonging - I am presently supporting Sheffield Irish elders to construct digital spaces for story telling through narrative and song

After some illness last year I thought to retire - but found the experience diminished me - and so have been persuaded not only to keep Advocacy in Action going but to accept a further role as Training and Education coordinator for MAKING WAVES - another peer-led Nottingham group who embrace madness and are on the leading edge with service-user-led (as opposed to professional led) peer recovery in the UK and who have developed nurse teaching at all levels in the University of Nottingham - I am already loving the new work - and for the first time in 33 years am actually getting a salary - YESSSS!!

I have various academic articles, chapters and a book published in collaboration with Advocacy in Action and was a joint editor fir the Journal of Social Work Education 2006 Special Edition on Service User Involvement. I have collaborated in both film and television documentaries around human rights and resilience issues. I additionally had international success with children's books when I was younger. I am a performing musician who once set up a women's band - the Mad Cows - I usually carry my Irish whistles around and play at the drop of a hat!

Enough about me!! - I am here because I am interested in every one of you and am hungry to learn with and from you all - I have lots of energy and love for life and a strong and unswayable passion for social justice and the learning and practices that respect and uphold it - If you want to know more - just ask!!
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Really impressive story, Julie! 

Thank you for your kind interest Bart - it is the thing of greatest value that i own - i have committed myself over the years for ensuring space for the stories of those around me - I believe that reclaiming the narrative and telling it in our own words is the platform on which we build and own our futures

Hi everyone

My name is David Catherall, though that should be obvious from the tag on this post.  Ah well.

I am part of a group of service users and carers at UCLAN in Preston, Lancashire, and have been for almost four years (seems longer).  The group has been together for about 11 years I think, and we have now got to the point where we have written, produce and mark a module on the Social Work degree course at UCLAN.

We also work with student Nurses and Carers and have recently started to work with Physiotherapists and are looking at other areas within the schools of health and social work.

I was a carer for six years of a man with severe and enduring mental health problems and have spent much of my working life on and off working with people like him.

I am now retired and enjoy my involvement with COMENSUS- the name of the service user and carer group, and over the past three years have been able to talk to students from the point of view of a service user myself.  

We do not restrict our input to the field of mental health as we have 'experts' from many differing fields of caring and service use within the group.

Delighted to be part of this network and hope to pick a lot of brains in the future!!

hey David - the three learning disabled people who shared my home and my life became my friends and my family - we all cared for one another! - I miss this very much - the ups the downs the closeness -

carers are a very important group of people and we need to look after ourselves and recognise our own needs! - although I was never particularly good at doing this!!

I am already impressed by your contribution to My Mad Space - and your resume here increases my respect - you do great work!!

Thanks for the kind words Julie.

If you are short of someone to care for, I can point you in the right direction!!

I do know what you mean though, my wife now cares for me and I care for her.  Together we don't make on whole person...


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