Angus Voice Open Space Session

1 June 2016



About the Day


This was the first Open Space session at Angus Voice.


People came from all over Angus. They included people who are part of the 3 Forums that meet regularly in Arbroath, Forfar and Montrose. There were also people who have not yet been part of Angus Voice activities but hear about them through Facebook and from friends.



Graham Morgan, Mental Welfare Commission


The Mental Welfare Commission is the body with responsibility for seeing that the mental health legislation in Scotland is implemented properly and that the rights of people affected by the Mental Health Act are protected.


You can find out more about what they do at


Graham is the person in the Engagement and Participation Team who has lived experience of using mental health services.


Graham talked about his own experiences of living with serious mental health problems, how he got involved in groups like Angus Voice in other places, and about his role at the Mental Welfare Commission.


Graham also talked about Advance Statements: this is part of the Mental Health Act and lets someone say when they are well how they want to be treated if they become unwell and especially if they need to be in hospital. They can also make a Personal Statement, which explains about them as a person and a bit about their life. The statements are witnessed, to show that the person was able to make these decisions. These are part of their records and available to staff who care for them. If the staff do not follow what the person has said, they have to take this to the Mental Welfare Commission.


This is a link to a booklet about Advance Statements:



Points in discussion


We took time to ask Graham questions and talk about people’s experiences when they had been unwell. We also talked about how writing an Advance Statement is a good idea and gives people more choice and control at a very important time.


This is what the response should be when someone is unwell:

  • Having someone to listen to you is very important
  • People need consistency from services and for the help they get. It helps a lot when it is a community or hospital team who know you
  • Assessments carried locally out so people don’t have to travel so far at difficult times
  • People have had very bad experiences with the Police being involved – both when they were very unwell and at other times
  • Better training for workers and especially the Police
  • People discharged from hospital with support plans and follow up support in place – family and friends, support services and community supports


When in crisis it can help to

  • Talk to someone who will listen
  • Have supports/ family members there with you
  • Help with breathing and other ways to calm down
  • Flexible responsive help
  • Treated with respect, care and humanity
  • Peer support can help. People with lived experience who have understanding and first knowledge of what it feels like


“Listening is good but sometimes you need something else like walking about”


“There are staff in the hospitals who are great and really care, while others just see it as a job. The support you get is totally different when it is from the right people.”



There should be some place in the community in each area, such as a crisis house. This could be staffed by a voluntary organisation such as Penumbra and used when needed.


We would like local supports and places to meet people, such as drop in centres. People also want more community activities where they can have something positive to do and meet people.


“Mental health needs the same respect and rights as physical health – we have a long way to go.”



Dawn Ranson and Louise Willson – Permission to Dream


Dawn is from Grampian Opportunities and Louise is from Outside the Box. They have both been working from time to time over the past 3 years or so on finding ways for people with mental health problems to think about what they want to do in ther lives – what their dreams are.


This began as a way to help people prepare for a meeting with a social worker to assess what community support they needed and how Self-directed support could enable them to achieve that. But people are also using this in other situations, such as thinking about their recovery.


You can see the report from the recent sessions at:


People thought that this approach could be part of thinking about a personal statement to go with an Advance Statement. People also talked about their own dreams when we were chatting together over lunch.


“It’s made me feel more positive.”


“It’s god to be reminded that we are entitled to have dreams, same way as other people do.”


“You are all amazing. Each one of you has something to give.”



Open Space discussions


Open Space just means that we talk about the topics that the people who are there on the day want to talk about. People can move between the discussions if they want to.


We looked at 3 main topics:


  • Jenny and David [check – don’t think this is the man’s name] gave an update on what is happening on people in Angus feeding in to the plans on in-patient units and related developments for community services.
  • Community supports and activities to keep people well and be part of their recovery.
  • Advance statements – finding out more about them, thinking about how they can help and ways to tell more people about them.


“I enjoyed the conversations. We came up with a lot of good ideas.”


These are points we made on these topics


Advance Statements


  • It’s like home contents insurance or wellness insurance. It’s good to have it and we may never need to use it. It’s about protecting yourself.
  • It’s not just about going into hospitals and acute wards.
  • Advance statements are mentioned in service agreements with Penumbra
  • We should do something on promoting raising awareness of statements
  • We may also need to make links to Power of Attorney and how they can work together
  • There are 3 groups we want to reach – people, workers and service providers
  • We can get more leaflets and booklets and get these out to people
  • Training sessions for staff and service providers – people with lived experience sharing stories and examples
  • Have examples and stories of how and where it would be useful
  • Make it easy for people to develop their own statements using templates and ideas for things that will be and are important to them
  • Have video and audio clips – use digital media


Mulberry Unit and inpatient care


  • People still feel anxious about the future
  • People going at night to hospital in Dundee recently have had bad experiences getting there
  • Response when people do get to Carseview has not been good for some people – left to wait, staff who don’t seem to listen
  • The quality of the support that units give is important and we are going to keep raising this.
  • The people from Angus Voice who are part of the NHS consultation process want to know the views of other people in Angus.


Community activities


  • There are existing activities that we tap into, but some are not certain to continue
  • It is good to have some things we do together – easy to be with other people with mental health problems when you are not feeling so great
  • Our Mental Health Awareness Week Walk was great and we really enjoyed this
  • There are places we could ask to do something with them
  • Places where we can share interests and hobbies: once we started listing our interests we came up with a long list
  • First step is the hardest sometimes and it would help to have a buddy who is interested in the same things you are
  • Once things got started there could be opportunities for people to be volunteers
  • People are interested in finding out about supported volunteering as a way to get started



Next Steps


People came up with ideas on ways to take forward these issues as part of the work of Angus Voice. These plans take on ideas from all the small discussions, and each one will help make progress with the others.


1: Community Support

  • Activities and supports currently available in the community
  • Activity and supports we would like to set up as Angus Voice
  • Activities and supports that we would like some help to attend as individuals
  • Follow on supports like peer support that might help us


Volunteers – David and Lynn;

Dawn from GO might be able to come to share what they did and help with writing up notes from sessions

Callum to keep working on this (and everything else) and Anne from Outside the Box to keep on looking for additional funding for spin-off activities



2: Communication Group

  • Communication within Angus Voice members – sharing the things we know, and the things that might help us like ALISS and Advance Statements
  • Communication to raise awareness of Angus Voice in community
  • Use of Facebook to promote AV but also help for members to find and use Facebook
  • Explore other ways to publicise our message


Volunteers – Jenny and Lynn; Alice from Outside the Box (whose job includes helping with Communications) can come and help with communication options and promotion



3: Angus recovery network

  • We would like more people who use mental health services to be part of this and know about it.
  • We will put information about it onto Angus Voice Facebook to encourage more people to get involved



4: Mulberry Unit/in-patient care

  • Have a survey of views and experiences of people in Angus
  • Share what we know
  • Use Facebook to keep people up to date on what is happening



5: Raising knowledge and understanding about Advance Statements/Personal statements

  • Plan getting information out to people who use mental health services
  • Do something with Health and Social Care Partnership to raise awareness with staff
  • Link with care providers and with family carers

Volunteers – David, Jenny, Janet to start off work and then get other people to share doing the next steps