Please contact us if you have events to add to the calendar…


Sharing Power: Sustaining the Roots of Peer Support in Statutory Services @ Kingsley Hall Community Centre
Feb 24 @ 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Over the last 15 years, Mind in Camden’s Hearing Voices projects have set up Hearing Voices groups and developed mental health training/workshops within an ideological framework determined by a grass roots peer support ethos. These trainings and groups have included training around how gender identity may impact someone’s experience in services, launching groups specifically for women, and highlighting the importance of inclusivity around trans issues.

We’ve also taken this ethos with us into our work developing groups in a range of settings including: prisons, immigration removal centres, secure units, youth offending services, CAMHS inpatient and outpatient services, and youth centres.

This afternoon we’ll be reflecting on the value and challenges of setting up and facilitating Hearing Voices peer support groups in institutional settings:

• Can a ‘real’ Hearing Voices group take place in statutory services? Or is their radical nature too diluted?

• What are the particular challenges of facilitating a peer support group for paid staff, volunteers or service users?

• Are there specific considerations for Hearing Voices groups in youth services? How do we safeguard yet allow for positive risk taking in these types of groups?

• What can we do if we feel we’re the only one in our community, organisation or workplace with an interest in Hearing Voices groups or other ‘alternative’ approaches?

Join us for an afternoon opened by speaker Mirabai Swingler – Mirabai worked for 10 years in acute mental health services, set up and ran peer support groups for staff, on wards and for community service users. She is a mental health activist, peer support trainer and Only Us Campaign founder, all held together by a passion for human rights and a recent discovery of the practicality of the politics of anarchism for the redistribution of power.

You’ll have the chance to join one of two workshops and we’ll end the day with a panel discussion and Q&A featuring:

Nikki Mattocks – “I hear voices and It’s a continuous battle to use it as a strength, but I’m getting there. I live with bpd and schizophrenia and when I was 17 I set up a peer support group called evolve to help other young people struggling. I’m on a journey to find happiness and peace and I use that in my professional life as a support worker and activist”

Jason Poole – “I am a trainee clinical psychologist, researcher and lecturer with lived experience of psychosis. My work is concerned with spaces in which people are detained against their will, and how these experiences shape people’s distress. I worked with the Voices Unlocked project to establish the first Hearing Voices group in a migrant detention centre.”

Nina-Marie Schaff – “I’m Nina, I work as a prison officer in HMYOI Cookham Wood which is a young offenders’ institution in Kent. I work with boys aged 15-18 serving custodial sentences. I am aiming to set up a peer support group within Cookham Wood, so that young people in custody have a safe space to talk about voice hearing without it being ‘taboo’. I am also trying to raise awareness of the Hearing Voices Movement to tackle staff misconceptions.”

Andy Phee – “I’m a Mindfulness teacher with a background in community mental health nursing. I am interested in diverse ways of understanding voices and unusual beliefs and co-facilitated a hearing voices group for several years. More recently I have been teaching mindfulness to prisoners and prison staff and facilitating mindfulness groups for people who hear distressing voices, in partnership with several London Mind projects”

Tamar Jeynes – “I have worked as a Lived Experience Practitioner since 2010, when I first trained and worked with Emergence CIC delivering consultancy and training in Personality Disorder with the National KUF (Knowledge & Understanding Framework) team. This work was delivered across the UK to a variety of NHS, forensic, public, private and voluntary sector organisations. I have also worked with the NHS since 2012 in the delivery and design of services for people diagnosed with Personality Disorder.”

Who is the conference for?

The conference is for anyone who may have experienced or observed the challenge of retaining peer support values in institutional settings. Voice hearers and those with lived experience of distress or unusual sensory experiences are especially welcome.

You may be someone whose work and passion for peer support and/or Hearing Voices Groups embeds you within an institution, or you may work directly for the institution itself — for example, supporting children and young people, women, young offenders, people impacted by the justice system, or refugees and asylum seekers of all ages.

Examples of relevant organisations where peer support initiatives are often hosted can be CAMHS, youth services, prison/secure settings, immigration removal centres, organisations working with refugees & asylum seekers, schools, universities, hospitals and mental health services. Equally this half-day may also be of interest, if you are involved in an independent peer-led group in the community.

Shy Radicals, Awkwoods & Neurodivergent Revolution @ Goldsmiths Students Union
Feb 25 @ 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm

Join us for an artist’s talk with Hamja Ahsan. Hamja talks about his award-winning book Shy Radicals, imagining a utopic homeland called ‘Aspergistan’, in the context of debates around intersectionality, radical mental health and neurodiversity.

How can citizenshipnationalism and the state be reimagined to be more homely to neurodivergent people? Can shy, awkward and neurodiverse people be reimagined as dissenters, subversives and revolutionary leaders? How can art and performance reimagine identity and society to make life less alienating?

Drawing from the worlds of teen movies, constitutions and human rights law, the rhetorics of 1960s Liberation movements and anticolonial struggles, grunge, DIY Zines and indie music and anti-psychiatry, Hamja explores these questions. Recent developments, such as the birth of the neurodivergent Labour movement, and attempts to recontextualise the project as the Aspergistan Referendum in Post-Tito Slovenia, will be further elaborated on.

A film of the book is currently in production with Tom Dream of Black Dog Films of Ridley Scotts Associates to be released later in 2020.

The book is a syllabus text for several University degrees around the world including Goldsmiths in Media and Communication, Fine Art, Disability Studies, Drama, Graphic Design and English Literature.

The talk will be followed by a book-signing

Daniel Oliver will also talk about his new book Awkwoods: Daniel Oliver’s Dyspraxic Adventures in Participatory Performance. Hamja Ahsan and Shy Radicals features in a chapter in his new book Awkwoords on Neurodiversity, world-building and Revolution. He is a lecturer at Queen Mary University in Drama.


Hamja Ahsan is an artist, writer, activist and curator based in London. He is the author of the book Shy Radicals: Antisystemic Politics of the Militant Introvert, and recently award the Grand Prize at Ljubljana Biennial 2019 for the work Aspergistan Referendum based on it.  He is founder and co-curator of the DIY Cultures festival of creative activism, zines and independent publishing since 2013. He was shortlisted for the Liberty human rights award for Free Talha Ahsan campaign on extradition and detention without trial under the War on Terror. His recent writing was anthologised in No Colour Bar: Black Art in Action 1960-1990. He has presented art projects at PS1 MOMA New York, Tate Modern, Gwangju Biennale, Guild Gallery New York, Shaanakht festival Pakistan and Shilpa Academy, Bangladesh; forthcoming exhibitions in Glasgow Internaton 2020 and CCA Warsaw Poland. His practice encompasses all media: conceptual writing, building archives, performance, video, sound and making zines. He is currently working on a project on the role of zines in the Hillsborough Justice campaign, Britain’s largest police cover up. He is currently a resident artist at Jan Van Eyck Academy 2020-2021 in Netherlands. He was a visiting artist / guest tutor in Goldsmiths in BA Fine Art for 2020-2021. He instagram / tweets : @shyradicals and @hamjaahsan

Daniel Oliver is dyspraxic and creates awkward participatory performance worlds. He has done so since 2003. This book documents some of those worlds, as well as bringing together critical and creative responses by Aby Watson, Jo Hauge, Luke Ferris, O. Husch, Chloe Spicer, Hamja Ahsan and Nwando Ebizie. These writings focus on discussing, embracing, and celebrating dyspraxic approaches to performance making, socialising, world building, thinking and writing. It is especially for everyone accept of course for those who choose to identify as ‘everyone’ rather that someone else – but it will be great for anyone who, for example, is invested in dyspraxia, neurodiversity, Live Art, Audience Participation, World-Building, and sentences like this one.

People Not Pathology: Humanising Counselling and Psychotherapy @ BVSC, The Centre for Voluntary Action
May 2 @ 9:30 am – May 3 @ 3:00 pm
Time to take a collective stand against the colonisation of therapy by ideologies and practices that put markets before people.

About this Event

A two day conference in Birmingham for therapists and psy activists

Psychotherapy and counselling in the UK is alive and well. The demand for therapy and the supply of therapists have both been growing steadily for decades. But how well are we doing as a vocation of the heart and soul?

For the last two decades at least, the humanity of our profession has been under attack from the state, the ideologies of the market and our own professional bodies. So, for example:

‣ the dominance of the medical model of mental health, psychiatric diagnosis and treatment plans

‣ the short-term utilitarianism of “evidence-based” CBT and CBT-like state therapy – eg IAPT

‣ the emphasis on individual responsibility over social responsibility

‣ our professional bodies have become state regulators of therapy and gatekeepers of training and employability – eg SCoPEd

‣ the growing homogenisation of therapeutic practice and the human spirit

‣ Dept of Work and Pension’s use of therapy as psycho-compulsion of benefit claimants

‣ the ubiquity of unpaid work by counsellors, psychotherapists, art therapists & group therapists.

‣ the growth of an underpaid, overworked, deskilled gig economy for psy workers in the public and voluntary sector

‣ open-ended client-led relational therapy increasingly the domain of the well off.

It’s time to take a stand and start to turn the tide. How do we stand together to humanise our profession and play our part in transforming neoliberal narratives about mental health into a vision of society organised around people’s needs?

Most of us are versed in the arguments and the experience of how relational client-led and client-paced therapy has been undermined over the last couple of decades, to the detriment of clients and therapists alike.

We want this to be a conference focusing on action over analysis. What are we doing, what can we be doing to take a stand and turn the tide?

The conference will be as participatory and “bottom up” as possible, putting the emphasis on small group discussion in workshops alongside relatively brief contributions from inspirational speakers. We hope the priorities for action will emerge from the workshops on Saturday morning and will be developed as decisions for action and networking throughout the weekend.

Here are a few themes that come to mind:

How do we campaign for the social model of MH; through what kinds of collective political action can we challenge the undermining of relational therapy and community-based therapy; climate emergency psychotherapy; how do we build alliances with service users and support user-led initiatives; campaigning against unpaid work; boycotting DWP psy work; organising our own bottom-up democratic professional organisations and trainings; working as therapists in communities; respecting, restoring and facilitating the psycommons; open-ended relational therapy for everyone, not just the well off.

We will be showing Denis Postle’s new movie “The Climate Tsunami” on Sunday morning.


Outline of the conference PROGRAMME here. It is still evolving so check for updates.

Saturday is a process day with emphasis on themes for action workshops decided from and developed by the conference floor. On Sunday groups that want to carry on talking and planning will have space to meet. At the same time we are organising parallel workshops on aspects of progressive therapy projects and political campaigning.

Conference practicalities

Details about workshop facilitation, finding the venue location, where to eat, where to stay will be posted shortly – here on Eventbrite, and by email to ticket holders.

Organised by:

Free Psychotherapy Network

Psychotherapists and Counsellors for Social Responsibility

Supported by:

Alliance for Counselling and Psychotherapy

College of Psychoanalysts