Two Way Street fighting for survival
The only black led community based service in the south west of England is struggling for survival at a time when data shows that detention rates for people from this community are at their highest.
Why Mental Health matters
This column is my take on the latest developments in a sector that I have come to realise touches the lives of every black family living in the UK.
Of all aspects of black British history, the story of those from our communities who have used and died within mental health services over the past three decades is one that has not been told.
This hidden history has silently shaped our experience on these shores and needs to be given a voice for many reasons. Not only to ensure that we never forget those who have passed away in such circumstances but also so that we learn from the lessons of the past, lest we forget and another generation are forced to endure what we could have put right in our time.
The importance of remembering black history especially in an area like black mental health, which has for so many years been neglected, cannot be underestimated. The Lives of David Oluwale, Orville Blackwood, David Bennett and Mikey Powell are as important to the movement for change that has come about because of the tragic cases of Smiley Culture and Kingsley Burrell-Brown those who are still fresh in our minds.
By Steve Pope Editor of The Voice Newspaper and co-founder of book publishers The X Press
of this groups,’ Rachel Barclay founder and director of Two Way Street told The Solution Magazine.
The Two Way Street has been fighting to continue to be able to provide their services in the face of swinging cutbacks, despite the growing need for a community base service in this part of the country.
‘The mental health services are likely to be busier than ever with the changes in the NHS and the economic situation in the general community. The Two Way Street wants to be there for people to ensure support with this potentially difficult time ahead,’ Barclay said.
With a six year track record in supporting mental health service users and their families, cuts to funding has left this community based agency struggling to continue to provide services many in the community have come to rely on.
The brainchild of mental health campaigner, Rachel Barclay, Two Way Street was launched back in 2005, after she realised the advocacy needs of black patients on hospital wards and the continuing support of this client groups when in the community were not being met.
Coming from the community and having personal experience both as a service users and carer has given Barclay an insight and empathy into the needs of this group, which are often sidelined by mainstream services . The intrinsic understanding of this needs of this group have endeared this service among many in the community who are fearful of what will happen if Two Way Street is forced to closed.
ristol has an over representation of black people in hospital and yet there is no other service in the whole of the south west of England that caters for the needs
Their Friday afternoon drop in for service users, offering tradition home cooked Carribbean dishes provided the only refuge from the isolation many from the community who have been detained for long periods on mental health wards face.
Other services that have had to face the axe include ward visits, training in cultural competence and the need for a more holistic approach to treatment for health professionals and support for mental health service users in accessing courses that would enabled them to reintegrate back into the community.
‘Some of the service users that come to us did not have very good literacy skills and so we would sign them up with Learn Direct and go through their courses with them and help them. But these kinds of support services have had to go now,’ Barclay told The Solution. There are concerns that slashing Two Way Street’s funding will turn out to be a false economy as the safety nets that were in place to prevent people from relapsing will no longer be there. With data showing that community based services cost a fraction of the price of inpatient care, Barclay and her team believe investment in accessible community care will not only save money, but also prevent many people from going through the trauma that is associated with being detained under the Mental Health Act for this group.
‘The Two Way Street is committed and passionate about the work that is still needed in the mental health community to improve services for all. We are aware of the cuts in service provision and our fear is that this will only serve to increase the dissatisfaction of the people who use mental health services,’ Barclay said.
To find out more go to www.thetwowaystreet.org.uk
or email email@example.com
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