Updates

Community Collective Advocacy – April Newsletter

Our newsletter is quite different this month.  We’ve had to make (temporary) changes to how we operate our services at AdvoCard, so in this newsletter we will be letting you know how we are doing things just now in light of the current situation. 
We understand that this will be a difficult time for many of you.  Although we’ve had to make changes, we are still here and we are trying to find ways to provide as much support as we can to those who need it, both with individual advocacy and collective advocacy.
If we make any further changes, then we will update you on our website (www.advocard.org.uk) and in this newsletter.  

AdvoCard Community Collective Advocacy


There will be no April Edinburgh Community Voices meeting.  We are not able to hold collective advocacy meetings at this time.  However, at a time when mental health and wellbeing services have been affected by the present situation, and the situation itself creates extra challenges for people with lived experience of mental health issues, there has never been a more vital role for collective advocacy in supporting you to have your voice heard in shaping the treatment and support that you receive.
We had already started work to better include people who, for a variety of reasons, aren’t able to make it to meetings.  This gives us a good starting place to work from, and we are currently working from home on a plan for how to go from here.  We’ll keep you updated in this newsletter about how you can take part in collective advocacy.  We know that not everybody is online just now, so we are looking into ways to include people who can’t get online.  
If you know of anyone who would like to receive the newsletter but would not be able to receive it by email, including people who might be on our email list but normally access the internet outside of the home, please ask them to ring us on on 0131 554 5307.  (The call will be diverted to one of our workers or we’ll pick up your voicemail message.)

AdvoCard Individual Advocacy 

Our offices at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital and 332 Leith Walk are now closed and all our staff are working from home. Please call 0131 537 6004 if you want advocacy in the Royal Edinburgh Hospital. For all other community issues call 0131 554 5307 (Leith Walk). Your call will either be diverted to one of our workers or we’ll pick up your voicemail message as soon as we can.

We’re doing our best to keep up to date with the rapidly evolving guidance and practice around the Mental Health Act, Guardianship and Adult Protection.

For those of you who need support to complete a benefit form or to draft a reconsideration, Arlene can offer a telephone appointment with you on 07920207569 or can offer support by email at [email protected]

For our Problematic Substance Use service please call Scott on 07918127366 or email: [email protected] to find out more or to make a phone appointment.

Problematic Substance Use Collective Advocacy

Hi, I’m John and I’d like to tell you about a new service in our collective advocacy in problematic substance use.  It’s a collective voice for those who have lived experience in drugs and alcohol recovery.  And we want to create a space for people to come together to:

– have a chance to work with others with lived experience- make a difference for others- have your voice heard on issues important to you
The plan is to meet as a group, but we will have to delay that for the time being.However, we would still like to hear from you.  If you’d like to be part of the conversation just now, please answer the following 2 questions and send them to John at Advocard ([email protected], 07884 741 686).
1. In your recovery from drug and alcohol use, list the main issues you have faced (such as stigma, delays in receiving support, feel isolated, etc.).2. Would you like to help create a group of people with a similar lived experience and steer it forward?

Or, if you want to find out more, you can contact me on the above email and mobile.
Thanks

Coronavirus UPDATE 26 March

Our offices at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital and 332 Leith Walk are now closed and all our staff are working from home. Please call 0131 537 6004 if you want advocacy in the Royal Edinburgh Hospital. For all other community issues call 0131 554 5307 (Leith Walk). Your call will either be diverted to one of our workers or we’ll pick up your voicemail message as soon as we can.

We’re doing our best to keep up to date with the rapidly evolving guidance and practice around the Mental Health Act, Guardianship and Adult Protection.

For those of you who need support to complete a benefit form or to draft a reconsideration, Arlene can offer a telephone appointment with you on 07920207569 or can offer support by email at [email protected]

For our Problematic Substance Use service please call Scott on 07918127366 or email: [email protected] to find out more or to make a phone appointment.

Collective advocacy meetings will not be taking place until further notice.  We’ll keep you updated about online opportunities to take part in collective advocacy in our newsletter which goes out once a month.  If you’re not on the email list for your newsletter and would like to be added to it, please contact [email protected]

Thank you for your patience during these challenging times.

AdvoCard

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE

We understand that this is a difficult time for many of you who use our service. We are trying to find ways to provide as much support as we can to those who need it.

From today, we will not be offering face to face appointments at our Leith Walk office. This will continue until further notice.

However, we will still be around if you need to call us and we will try to work with as many people over the phone as we can.

For those of you who need support to complete a benefit form or to draft a reconsideration, Arlene can offer a telephone appointment with you on 07920207569 or can offer support by email at [email protected]

Collective advocacy meetings will not be taking place until further notice.  We’ll keep you updated about online opportunities to take part in collective advocacy in our newsletter which goes out once a month.  If you’re not on the email list for your newsletter and would like to be added to it, please contact [email protected]

We can also still attend appointments if you have been detained in hospital or if you have an upcoming tribunal.

If you are worried and need our help we can still be contacted on 0131 554 5307

Coronavirus

We’re doing everything we can to minimise the risk of infection to everyone involved with our services.

You can help us by:

– letting us know if you’re unwell with cold or flu-like symptoms (continuous cough and/or high temperature);

– you’ve had an appointment with us recently or;

– you’ve got one coming up


This will help us keep all our visitors, employees, trainees and volunteers as safe and well-informed as we can.


We may offer alternatives to face-to-face appointments in the coming days, such as email, text and telephone appointments.


We appreciate your cooperation.


AdvoCard

Charities call for an independent inquiry into benefit related deaths

Leading charities and mental health organisations, including AdvoCard, Mind, Liberty and the Trussell Trust are backing a campaign by Rethink Mental Illness calling for an independent inquiry into the deaths of vulnerable people who rely on support from the welfare system.

The charity has also written to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions expressing deep concern about the welfare of vulnerable benefits claimants, following the emergence of evidence that people are being pushed to breaking point from their experience in the welfare system.

In many of the cases which have emerged mental health appears to be a significant factor. A recent report by the National Audit Office showed that the Department for Work and Pensions investigated 69 instances where people receiving benefits have taken their own lives since 2014-15, but suggested it is very likely that there are more cases that could have been investigated.

The statement, co-signed by a wide range of charities and mental health organisations, is accompanied by the launch of a public petition which will be launched online on Wednesday 11th March.

The joint statement reads:

“As organisations that work with people who need support from the benefit system, we are deeply concerned that some of the policies and processes of the Department for Work and Pensions appear linked to avoidable deaths. 

“The National Audit Office reports that the Department has internally investigated 69 cases where people claiming benefits have taken their own lives since 2014-15. It was also clear that is ‘highly unlikely’ that these represent the total number of cases that could have investigated in the past six years, and that there is ‘no tracking or monitoring’ of the status of the recommendations that have been made following the investigations that have taken place.

“We are therefore calling on the Government to establish an independent inquiry into those deaths where it appears that the welfare benefits system may have been a significant factor, with a remit to recommend changes to policy as well as internal DWP processes where needed.

“The clock is ticking. In November, the Government plans to begin a ‘managed migration’ of people from the current sickness benefit—Employment and Support Allowance—to Universal Credit.  It is vital that we properly understand the circumstances of these deaths before embarking on this change.” 

Signatories:

AdviceUK

AdvoCard

Centre for Mental Health

Child Poverty Action Group

Disability Rights UK
Hafal

INQUEST

Liberty

Mental Health Foundation

Mind

MS Society

National Axial Spondyloarthritis Society

New Savoy Partnership
Rethink Mental Illness

Royal College of Psychiatrists

Support in Mind Scotland

The Trussell Trust

UCKP

Z2K (Zacchaeus 2000 Trust) 

Problematic Substance Use Collective Advocacy

AdvoCard facilitates a collective advocacy group for those with lived experience of problematic substance use (alcohol and drugs).  Being part of a peer-support, collective advocacy group is about sharing lived experiences, finding common issues and raising a louder voice together.  A collective voice can be stronger for campaigning and letting service providers and policy makers know what positive changes can be made.  And you could help make the journey better for everyone.

Our first meeting is on Tuesday, 31st March, 2020, 2 to 4pm, AdvoCard, 332 Leith Walk, EH6 5BR.

A date for the first meeting will be put in place over the next while.  Please contact John Muirhead, Collective Advocacy Development Worker, if you’d like to know more – [email protected] 07884 741 686

Side Effects Conversations – Let’s Get Side Effects on the Agenda

Wednesday 18th March, 2 – 4pm

Volunteer Edinburgh, 222 Leith Walk, EH6 5EQ

Lots of people have told us about the issue of mental health medication side effects and the impact of side effects on their lives.

We are holding a meeting to hear your views about what needs to be done to address this issue.  

If you’d like to attend, please contact Becky at AdvoCard to book a space – 0131 554 5307, [email protected]

Spaces are limited  so please get in touch as soon as possible if you’d like to be there.

If you are not able to make the meeting, we are hoping to hold more Side Effects Conversations meetings in the future – please get in touch to let us know if you would be interested in coming to another meeting.

 We’re aware that some people find it difficult to get to meetings or may not feel comfortable talking about issues like this in front of other people. We want to include as many people in the conversation as possible.

If you would like to take part but a meeting is not for you, please contact Becky as above and we’ll see what we can do to include you in the conversation in another way, for instance getting your views by email.

(Please note: this meeting is for people in Edinburgh who have lived experience of mental health issues.)

 

Background

Towards the end of 2018, Edinburgh Community Voices carried out some peer research to hear from people about their experiences of side effects of mental health medication and treatment and support for physical health issues.

 We carried out this peer research to hear from people about their experiences, to get these down on paper, to identify any common issues, and to hear from them about what they think needs to be done to address the issues raised.

 We published the reports from the peer research in the summer.

You can read the reports, and find out more, here:

Experiences of Side Effects of  Mental Health Medication:

Experiences of Treatment and Support for Physical Health Issues:

Community Collective Advocacy: February Newsletter

This month:

  • Edinburgh Community Voices – Wednesday 5th February
  • Side Effects Conversations: Save the date – Wednesday 18th March 
  • Opportunity to influence iThrive Edinburgh
  • New Collective Advocacy Group
  • A&E | All & Equal – Emergency Card

Edinburgh Community Voices:  Wednesday 5th February

The next Edinburgh Community Voices meeting is on Wednesday 5th February, 2 – 4pm at AdvoCard, 332 Leith Walk.  Tea, coffee and biscuits are provided.
Edinburgh Community Voices is an open meeting for anyone who has lived experience to come along and discuss mental health and services in Edinburgh.  
We’d love more people to come along, especially new people who haven’t been before.  Everyone’s view is valid, you will be listened to and you could help someone in the future.
At the last meeting we discussed:

  • Side effects of mental health medication and the upcoming Side Effects Conversations meetings  
  • Issue of difficulties getting home at night from the Emergency Department at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh when Night Buses don’t take disabled or 60+ bus passes
  • How we can get more people involved in Edinburgh Community Voices

What we discuss at the February meeting is up to you.  
Tea, coffee and biscuits are provided.  If you’ve not been before and would like to find out more, you can give us a ring on 0131 554 5307 or email [email protected].      

Side Effects Conversations: Save the date – Wednesday 18th March
This is the first Side Effects Conversations meeting, which we had to rearrange from last year.  
The meeting will be on the afternoon of  Wednesday 18th March.  We’re still finalising the details and will announce them online (on our website (www.advocard.org.uk), facebook and twitter), and in the next newsletter which will be going out in mid to late February.  
If you would like to register interest or be kept updated, please contact Becky – [email protected], 0131 554 5307.  

We may be planning future meetings for people who’re not able to make the meeting on 18th March.  If you’re not able to make this meeting but would be interested in coming to a meeting at another time, please get in touch.  
Background

Towards the end of 2018, Edinburgh Community Voices carried out some peer research to hear from people about their experiences of side effects of mental health medication and treatment and support for physical health issues.

We carried out this peer research to hear from people about their experiences, to get these down on paper, to identify any common issues, and to hear from them about what they think needs to be done to address the issues raised.

We published the reports from the peer research in the summer.

You can read the reports, and find out more, here:

Experiences of Side Effects of  Mental Health Medication:

Experiences of Treatment and Support for Physical Health Issues:

iThrive Edinburgh

You might be interested in this opportunity from Health in Mind to shape the new iThrive Edinburgh Website:

*

Health in Mind has been funded by the Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland to create iThrive Edinburgh – an up-to-date, user-friendly, single point of access self-management and wellbeing website.

It will directly support the new Edinburgh Thrive welcome team and network, and the delivery of the Thrive Edinburgh mental health integration strategy/commissioning plan.

The iThrive Edinburgh website will provide information about local mental health and wellbeing services, Thrive information and self-help materials.

Julie Huggan, Health in Mind’s Online Information Development Worker, will be setting up a co-production working group to ensure that community members and experts by experience will have a lead role in shaping all aspects of iThrive Edinburgh design and content.

To learn more, please get in touch by emailing Julie – [email protected] 

As part of the iThrive Edinburgh’s development, we would love to hear your ideas and suggestions. Please fill in our online survey by clicking the link below.

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/ithrive-edinburgh


New Collective Advocacy Group 
** We had some interest in this group earlier in 2019.  We still plan to set it up but haven’t been able to do anything yet due to staff illness. If you’re interested or have ideas please do get in touch and we’ll post updates when we have them.**
Do you take part in a planning group (of any kind), steering group, management committee or board, or have you taken part in a group like this in the past? Would you be interested in joining a collective advocacy group to talk about your experiences and discuss how groups like these can better involve people with lived experience of mental health issues?

We haven’t yet decided on a meeting day, time or location.

We know it may be difficult for some people to come to a new group, so we would look to find ways to involve anyone who is not able to make it to meetings, for instance getting your views by email or over the phone.
If you are interested, or to find out more, please contact Becky –  0131 554 5307, [email protected]


A&E | All & Equal – Emergency Card

Would you like to have an Emergency Card?

An Emergency Card can help you get across your needs and wishes to the nurses, doctors and other staff if you ever need to go to the Emergency Department (A&E).

On the card there is space for you to write three things that you would want staff to know and three things that matter to you about your care. You can fill in the card by yourself or with help from somebody else. It can be folded to credit card size so that it can fit in your wallet and be there if you need to use it.

The Emergency Card was created for people with lived experience of mental health issues. However, it doesn’t say anything about mental health on it, you don’t have to write anything about your mental health on it and anyone can use it.

We have put together some guidance to help you decide if you would like to have an Emergency Card and to give you some ideas for things to include. If you would like an Emergency Card and a copy of the guidance, or have any questions, please contact Becky –   0131 554 5307, [email protected]

Background to the Emergency Card

In 2015 – 2016 we ran a peer research project called A&E | All & Equal where we heard from people with lived experience of mental health issues about experiences they had had at the Emergency Departments at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh (RIE) and St John’s Hospital, Livingston. One of the issues that came up was that when you’re in distress or are feeling anxious, it can be difficult to communicate with the staff in the Emergency Department, for instance if you have any wishes, needs or other information that you want staff to listen to and take into account. We developed the Emergency Card together with people with lived experience of mental health issues, the Emergency Department (A&E) at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh and the Navigator Project. 

Board Director Opportunity

HELP CREATE OUR 2020 VISION!

About us
AdvoCard is a well-established independent advocacy charity primarily serving people with experience of mental ill health in Edinburgh. We provide opportunities for people at risk of marginalization and exclusion to participate more effectively in decisions that affect all aspects of their lives, through individual and collective advocacy.

Our activities focus on people who use mental health services in the community and in hospital, people who are in prison, and people with problematic substance misuse. Last year through our staff and volunteers we provided advocacy for 976 individuals, and as the need and demand grows so our services are developing. We have recently extended our service to work in the prison and have developed a specific service to respond to welfare reform.

About the role
Board members provide strategic support and guidance for our ongoing development, ensuring AdvoCard is solvent, well run and meeting its charitable objectives. We look for up to 50% of our Board members to include people with lived experience of the circumstances of the people we serve and who may have used our services.

About you
We are looking for new Board Directors who share our passion about the importance of advocacy in enabling people to have choice and control of decisions in or about their lives. You will bring knowledge, experience and skills to support our strategic development, growth and diversification. Knowledge and experience in charity and voluntary sector finance; HR; Business management; strategic and partnership development; commissioning and contracting; advocacy, social care and health services would be especially useful.

Commitment

  • Attendance and active participation at monthly Board meetings, currently held during the day
  • Attendance at our annual AGM

The total commitment is around 4 hours a month. In return we offer a highly rewarding role and all travel expenses.

Get in touch and make an application

We’d love to hear from you. For more information please download our application pack:

For an informal discussion contact Chris Mackie, Managing Director, [email protected] or on 0131 554 5307.