Friday, 7 January 2011

Collective advocacy might be the term we have come up with but the concept of "a group of people who are all facing a common problem who get together to support each other" is not just found in mental health or other health and social care.

Here is a good example of collective action in housing in Edinburgh in the early 70s from the From There… To Here: The social history of Wester Hailes blog.

Wester Hailes is a huge housing scheme south west of Edinburgh which was built in the late 60s. 4,800 houses and flats but only 1 shops and nothing else. Of course people weren't happy - so the Wester Hailes Association of Tenants (WHAT) was founded.
If you were to go along to the Planning Department of the Corporation to say you thought there should be better facilities in Wester Hailes you wouldn’t get any further than a clerk at the front desk

On their own they are insignificant and ineffectual. But there is another option. The power to demand to be heard can be generated by banding together and speaking with a single, united voice. It all boils down to a simple and stark equation:

Bodies like the Corporation pay more attention to other bodies than they do to individuals. The bigger the body, the better the attention
Many people who got involved in the early days made the connection between activism in other areas and their motivation in getting involved in mental health activism.
So in the late 70’s and early 80’s I was involved with politics , campaigning politics, left wing politics, anything-you name it I’d support it. Then I began to get fed up… sort of ‘what’s happened with the people like me?’ so I went to see there was nothing. It was like... there was this hidden thing. We were all supporting gay rights, we were all supporting Northern Irish prisoners, we were all supporting... John MacDonald
It really felt as if it was something major happening. It was a movement along with lots of other movements that were very vocal at the time like The Women’s Movement, the Black Movement. It felt like at last, folk were standing up, forming a strong alliance and making strong statements that were going to make societal changes. Be Morris
And today, history in the making, the anti-cuts movement seems to be making connections between trade unionists, students and disabled people to fight against the cuts which will have a huge impact on people with mental health problems throughout the UK.

No comments: