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Joe Kelly visits Birmingham to attend an important seminar / 26 July 2010

a group of survivors

Photo of the group, including Dina Ibrahim, Nelsy and Daniel Johnson,Fabian, Sam Shakes, Philip Morgan, Joe Kelly (centre) Ian Ray Todd.

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Recently I travelled from my home in Greenford to Whitechapel and was picked up at the Brady Centre by a minibus that took a group of us to Birmingham. The group was a keen bunch of user survivors from three main groups. These were the Survivor History Group, THACMHO [Tower Hamlet Afro Caribbean mental health organisation] and lastly f.e.e.l. Friends of East End Loonies.

We travelled to the University of Birmingham, Centre for Excellence In Interdisciplinary Mental Health, Edgbaston - a large red brick Victorian building. CEIMH has developed dynamic and collaborative partnerships across the University with Education, Health sciences, Medicine, Psychology, and Social Sciences, and with key local, national and international mental health agencies and service user and carer organisations www.ceimh.bham.ac.uk

The reason for our trip was a collaborative seminar. The first speaker was Philip Morgan of THACMHO. He spoke about the plight of Afro-Caribbeans in Britain from slavery to the present day, reminding us that some of the practices of the dark days of slavery are still in evidence today. His talk was stimulating, thought provoking and challenging.

He was followed by Andrew Roberts, Leader of Survivor History Group, who spoke authoratively about the history of user/ survivors in the 1950’s and 1960’s when the term ‘Mental patient ‘was a challenging statement. He drew our attention to important groups that have been pioneers in our movement: Survivors Speak Out and Mad Pride.

One perceptive person commented that the internet and easy flow of information was making a big difference to user survivors and the progress of our movement. Our last speaker was Dr Mark Cresswell (University of Durham), who spoke about self-harm, referring to "Self-Harm: Perspectives From Personal Experience" edited by Louise Roxanne Pembroke, 1994

There were some discussion between self-harm advocates and important people In the Ministry of Health. The gulf of understanding was too great and the people at the top abandoned it. One person said we needed more research in this area. The whole day s a good example of collaboration between the academic world and user survivors and only good can come of this.

The audience was a mixture of academics and user survivors. The university and staff were hospitable and friendly and we enjoyed a delicious buffet lunch Before leaving we were told there was a conference on self-harm and borderline personality disorder at the ORT Conference Centre, London on 4 October 2010. On our way home we were joined by Nat Fonescu (an independent alternative therapist) and Andrew Roberts (of Survivors History Group).

Please find details of an important event organised by f.e.e.l which I hope to cover?

Humane Therapy not Drug Tyranny
Speaker: Joanna Moncrieff - author of 'The myth of the Chemical Cure' is an academic and practising psychiatrist. She is a long-standing critic of psychiatric drug treatment and has published numerous articles in medical journals. She was a founding member and is the co-chair of the Critical Psychiatry Network. There will be an interval with music and refreshments.
Date: Friday July 30th 2010
Time: 6-30 doors open for 7pm start 
Venue: Kingsley Hall, corner Powis and Bruce roads E3 3JH [Nearest tube station Bromley-By-Bow] 

No entrance fee but there will be a collection to cover costs. FEEL- Friends of East End Loonies is a campaign group for more humane and less oppressive psychiatric regimes. It meets the 3rd Monday of the month at 6,30pm at the LARC Centre 62 Fieldgate St W1 1ES 
For more information call David: 020 7790 0269 or Myra: 020 7159 3805
Email: f.e.e.l.campaign@googlemail.com

Keywords: psychiatry,survivor movement,