Archive for February, 2011

Dates for meetings have been set for every other Thursday morning at the URC – 10am -noon

Next meeting is March 17th



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The group discussed doing a photography project to highlight what Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is used for. This fits in with our priorities :

  • cuts
  • money including benefits
  • projects of our own

The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) is reviewing DLA and proposing an alternative called PIP – for Personal Independence Payment. We are concerned that the proposals do not take into account people with fluctuating conditions (as for many mental health conditions). They also proposed to end the mobility payments for people living in residential care, but this is currently on hold.

Many people don’t understand DLA or what it is for. For example, people worry that they will lose this payment if they get a job. This should not happen. It is supposed to help people to cover the additional costs of their disability – so it can be used to cover the additional costs of getting to work for example. There is no guidance on what you should spend your DLA on.

We have agreed to develop a small project, to illustrate what DLA is used for. We have linked in with Hayley, the manager at Making Space’s home in Rainhill, who will encourage her residents to take part. Denise will take the project to Oasis members. We hope to show the photographs in a project being run by Mash Gallery.


Tony and David talked about the Insight group, which used to meet several years ago in the Friends Meeting House. People valued this meeting, where people talked about different ways of thinking around mental health including holistic therapies and dreams. They would like to start the group up again and will design a poster to circulate to other groups. They hope to start meeting at the URC in the forum room in a few weeks. Do get in touch if you would like more information.

Representation at meetings
After a discussion, everyone agreed that, if there are problems concerning our forum representatives at any meeting, the representative and the Forum need an explanation so that we can all learn.  The Forum members elect our representatives. If there are problems, we need to know and understand them so that we can move forwards.

St Helens LIT – mental health partnership board 16th February
This was the first meeting with a new board solely from St Helens. Previous meetings had been joint with Halton. New terms of reference were agreed. We went through the new mental health strategy, ‘no health without mental health’ and had an update on how things are in St Helens.
There needs to be a decision on a Chair for the Partnership Board. Commissioners asked for service user views. Please let us know your views at the Forum meeting.

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We talked about our priorities for the year ahead and decided on:

  1. CUTS – we all recognize that the year ahead is bringing many financial challenges to service providers.We are particularly concerned about the future for self help groups. We insist our Oasis drop in group remains open. This group has had fantastic results for people – many people have passed through the group over the year and have moved on, with some doing part time work now. We want to make sure this group continues.

    We are also worried about the loss of support worker services. People need a prompt and supportive service which can help with a range of needs including accommodation and finances.

    Suggested speakers:

    • Our MPs, Dave Watts and Shaun Woodward
    • Local authority (St Helens Council) representatives – Cllr Joe Pearson and Marie Rimmer
    • Representatives from GP commissioning
  2. MONEY INCLUDING BENEFITS, WORK – We worry about changes to benefits and money problems. We would also like to hear how local employers are being positive about people with mental health problems.Suggested speakers:
    • General talk from the Job Centre
    • Personal money management
  3. ACCESS TO SERVICES – people are finding it difficult to access a range of services including alternative therapies.
    Suggested speakers:

    • Open Mind – access to all mental health services
    • Crisis services – access to crisis services for everyone including people already in services
    • Alternative treatments available locally
  4. PROJECTS – we are keen to run our own projects. We suggested a range including:
    • World mental health day (we are organizing another arts exhibition – this time in Mash)
    • Peer Support Network (see dates below)
    • Stigma and discrimination (linking into national and local campaigns)
    • Projects for sports (football) and arts (exhibitions, workshops)
    • Café, shop

Throughout all the above, we agreed that we need to link in with local media – perhaps reviving the MediaWatch group.

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