WELCOME TO ALL FELLOW CAMPAIGNERS for DISABILITY RIGHTS - a pan disability blog connecting my work with, EQUAL LIVES, the National Survivor User Network (NSUN) and the Survivor History Group.

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Wednesday, 13 June 2012

More Survivor History

Andrew has posted Peter Campbell's account of the meetings at Minstead Lodge in
1986 and 1987 that established Survivors Speak Out and preceded Edale.


In the first two years of Survivors Speak Out existence four meetings were held at Minstead Lodge, a retreat community in the New Forest. Approximately 20 people attended each meeting. Unfortunately no list of those who attended is currently available although some names are mentioned in the minutes upon which the account below is based.

24th to 26th January 1986 - The organisation of a conference was discussed. The object of a conference according to the minutes was “To promote awareness of our situation - the medicalisation of emotional of emotional distress, the need to replace the suppression of symptoms with support and care for emotional pain. We are not looking for sympathy but stressing the positive power gained from experience. In addition to show that people can survive without what has been called “essential hospitalisation”

By the end of the weekend it seems to have been agreed that organising a conference and producing a newsletter should be the priorities for the group.

There was “long and animated” discussion about a name for the group. 14 proposals were made and these were whittled down to 2 – Survivors Alliance and Survivors Speak Out. The latter was chosen for “punchiness” and its emphasis on positive action.
1st to 3rd August 1986 – The issue of SSO involvement with Mind came up. There had been a meeting between Lorraine Bell and Peter Campbell with Chris Heginbotham of Mind where it had been suggested that representatives from SSO meet with Mind before their annual conference. From the minutes there was clearly a range of different views on how involved with Mind SSO should be. The minutes state that the issue should be discussed later in the weekend but do not record that discussion (if, indeed, it did take place).

There was a feedback session from local groups. The following groups reported back:
Bristol Groups (Womankind, Survivors Group, Women’s Crisis Service); Southampton; Camden Mental Health Consortium; British Network for Alternatives to Psychiatry; Contact (Chesterfield); Link (Glasgow); Nottingham Patients Council Support Group; Nottingham Mind; Hackney Mental Health Action Group.


After discussion about the organisation of the conference it seemed clear “people did feel positive about the idea of a conference and our ability to organise it. The ideas should be simple and based on clear human issues. The conference should be a forum and not a platform for dogma”.

23rd to 25th January 1987 – There was a group feedback and the following groups reported back:

Link (Glasgow); Contact (Chesterfield); Nottingham Advocacy Group; Southampton Cafe Club; Manchester Mind; British Network for Alternatives to Psychiatry; Hackney Mental Health Action Group; Brighton; Ealing; Barnet: Camden Mental Health Consortium; Campaign Against Psychiatric Oppression (CAPO); Winchester Mind

A new aim and objective for SSO was proposed and accepted. There were now 5.

1. To meet with other people to share views and experiences

2. To share information about what’s being done to create changes

3. To look at what provisions and choices we would like to see available

4. To organise a national Survivors Speak Out conference, planned for 1987
And 5. To actively support the formation of new groups

Structure for SSO
Central core – Treasurer Ivy Buckland and John (Boyd??); Secretary Peter Campbell; Conference Co-ordinator Lorraine Bell.
Regional Contacts – Scotland Tam Graham; North Ingrid Barker; Manchester Meryl Fawkes; Midlands Carl Walster; London Jackie Biggs and Cathy Pelikan; South Cafe Club; South West Pam Trevithick;

Current membership stood at 104.

It was reported that Edward Peck and Ingrid Barker had asked SSO to provide a chapter for a new book on user involvement in services with chapters on various groups and projects (This eventually produced the Good Practices in Mental Health publication “Power in Strange Places” in which there is a chapter by Lorraine Bell on “Survivors Speak Out. A National Self-Advocacy Network”)

31st July to 2nd August 1987 – there were 3 meetings over the weekend. One of which was devoted to discussing matters to do with the forthcoming Edale Conference. The minutes of this meeting were kept separately and are not available as far as is known.

Once again, there was a feedback from groups. The following groups were included:
Ealing Mental Health Action Group; Nottingham Patients Council Support Group; Southampton; Brighton; Contact (Chesterfield); Bristol Survivors Network; Winchester Mental Health Action Group; Westminster Mental Health Action Group; Camden Consortium; Barnet Action for Mental Health: Islington Forum; Hackney Mental Health Action Group.

Condolences were passed to the Bristol group following the sad death of Jane Hartley.

In any other business it was proposed that there should be an editorial board for the News Sheet. Peter Campbell, Felicity Couch, Rick Hennelly and Richard Sutton were board members (NB IT IS NOT CERTAIN THAT THIS BOARD EVER MET).

At the end of these minutes it is mentioned that there may be difficulties in meeting at Minstead in future. From other notes it is clear that a meeting in February 1988 was proposed. This never happened.

The Minstead Lodge meetings appear to be important in the history of Survivors Speak Out for at least two reasons. They were a forum for discussing, planning and organising a conference. They were also an important networking opportunity. Although at the moment it is not clear just how many people went to the meetings and from what parts of the country, the feedback from groups suggests quite a good coverage was achieved. Certainly the meetings were an excellent opportunity for those who attended to get to know each other and to share ideas thoughts etc.

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