Cash boost for Camden charity to expand Voices Unlocked project supporting people with mental health problems in prisons and secure units

The City of London Corporation’s charitable funder, City Bridge Trust, has awarded a grant of £132,350 to Mind in Camden (MiC), a charity that provides services for people with mental health problems, to expand its services in prisons and secure units for people who are hearing voices.

For the past five years MiC has been developing peer support groups in prisons and secure units to improve the wellbeing of offenders who experience distress through hearing voices. The project, Voices Unlocked, aims to reduce this distress by providing a safe setting where people who hear voices can share experiences and coping strategies, and also to relieve the stigma and isolation they face.

This grant from City Bridge Trust will be used to continue this work and set up support groups in young offenders’ institutions and immigration detention centres, and to pilot groups for ex-offenders released into the community.

The services provided by MiC include a daily programme of activities to promote wellbeing and recovery; a service for people addicted to minor tranquilisers; a social prescribing project run in partnership with GPs; and projects for people who hear voices. These include developing peer support groups in the community and in places of detainment, as well as projects for young people.

Alison Gowman, Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s City Bridge Trust Committee, said:

“This project builds on 10 years of practice and research which shows that peer support helps people who are hearing voices to cope better, regain control and reduce stress. This support is very much needed and the expansion of the project will help hundreds more people over the next few years. We are pleased to be helping such a worthwhile project making a real difference do the lives of many on a daily basis. City Bridge Trust is committed to supporting Londoners to make the city a fairer place to work and live.”

Brian Dawn, the Chief Executive of Mind in Camden, added:

“We are delighted that City Bridge Trust has contributed so generously to our Voices Unlocked project – this will enable us to provide much needed peer support to vulnerable people detained in prisons, secure units and immigration removal centres in London who are distressed by hearing voices and similar mental health experiences.

“The staff and the people detained in these institutions are clearly under a great deal of pressure at this time, so it is especially important that organisations like the City Bridge Trust and ourselves work together to support them.”

City Bridge Trust is London’s biggest independent grant giver, making grants of £20 million a year to tackle disadvantage across the capital. The Trust has awarded around 7,500 grants totalling over £350 million since it first began in 1995.

Over the past 21 years charities in Camden have received 94 grants from the Trust, totalling to £5,698,594.

It helps achieve the Corporation’s aim of changing the lives of hundreds of thousands of Londoners.

Feedback from Voices Unlocked group members:

“The Hearing Voices Network has saved my life.”

“When I come here it’s a break. I leave the voices in my cell. They don’t bother me here.”

“I was really scared to talk about the voices I hear. I thought I was mad. But this group has been brilliant. Thank God we can talk, and have a laugh and a joke about it even. I want to come back.”

 “I love coming here, listening to others who have the same problem as me. It teaches you how others have become stronger.”

“You get an insight into the lives of other group members, who you can empathise with, hear their stories. It gets you in touch with people who have left the unit and you get inspired by them.”

“Attending the group has given me the tools I need to address the voices I hear, and most importantly these tools allow me to control these inner voices. They no longer control me; I say this with pride… I have at long last reached the stage where I’ve fully come to terms with it, and to be honest, coming to the Hearing Voices group is the best thing I’ve ever done.”




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Kristina Drake

Media Officer, City of London Corporation

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