Normalising Experiences

Notification of this event only just received, hopefully there are still places available

Normalising the Experiences of Voices, Visions & Paranoia

Two-day skills based workshop delivered jointly by Paranoia Network UK, Hearing Voices
Network, Sheffield, and the Institute of Mental Health.

Monday 4 and Tuesday 5 March 2013

Bevan House, Leeds

Facilitators: Pete Bullimore and Chris Tandy

Workshop Content

Day 1

Understanding paranoia through the history of psychiatry
The problem with diagnosis
Making sense of paranoia
The three stages of paranoia
Making sense of ‘delusion’
Trauma and paranoia

Day 2

History of understanding voices and visions using a psychiatric perspective
The difficulty with diagnosis
Limitations of traditional therapy
The three stages of voices
Trauma and unusual experiences
Understanding voices and visions
Helpful approaches

Workshop Outcomes

Day 1

Gain a contemporary understanding of paranoia and other alternative
Gain a critical understanding of current bio-medical constructs of
Construct collaborative understanding of paranoia with service users in a respectful, ethical and therapeutic manner.
Understand the potential connection between trauma and paranoia.

Day 2

Take a critical and thoughtful perspective on traditional ways of understanding voice
hearing and visions.  Understand the potential pitfalls of the claims made from other therapies.
Take a respectful and ethical approach to the experience of voice hearing and visions.
Understand the potential connection between trauma and voice hearing and
Develop new ways of talking to and working with people who experience voices and visions.

This workshop is targeted at all mental health workers, criminal justice personnel, third sector agencies and people who experience voices, visions and paranoia.

Apply now: please email Karen Sugars with the completed application


Wise words

Photo: If you want to be happy, you have to decide to be happy.If you need help with that give it a chance

‘Liked’ by LWBW from Simon Buckden’s (Post Traumatic Stress Campaigner ) Facebook page

Simon also has an interesting quote on his Facebook page from someone who suffered serious mental distress


cut and pasted from Simon Buckdens FB page

Dancing….for a short while*

Have you ever been tempted to dance on the the supermarket? I have been and have done it in my zanier moments! perhaps some doubted my sanity but it felt liberating!

Audre Lorde in her approach to inspiring  people to speak their truth, counter balances that ‘revolution’ by light heartedly stating the need for frivolity, I have found that important in my well being.

Social media can give us a space to speak our truth and to share things we consider news worthy and inspiring. I remain cautious though about some of its uses, overwhelmed by its apparent complexity, in truth  it’s nothing more than pressing the correct buttons,

Should I tweet, hashtag, have a Facebook account, a twitwheel, Pintrest, Youtube channel or blog?…who might my intended audience be? will they trample on my truths and experience? Do I choose  to sign petitions by tick box. press a ‘like’ button or type in a  word, often ‘jump’ ..’see what happens’ …in my experience nothing… except  bumping up the numbers of that particular site, with what purpose? are there any assurance that you are linking to reputable sites? some that appear so, often have commercial or political backers who’s principles and aims differ significantly.

However, I found the following quotes which friends recently liked and linked ….the first by Audre Lourde…

“Once you start to speak, people will yell at you.

They will interrupt you, put you down and suggest it’s personal.


And the speaking will get easier and easier.

And you will find you have fallen in love with your own vision, which you may never have realized you had.

And you will lose some friends and lovers, and realize you don’t miss them.

And new ones will find you and cherish you.

And you will still flirt and paint your nails, dress up and party,

because, as I think Emma Goldman said,

“If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.”

And at last you’ll know with surpassing certainty that only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth. And that is not speaking.”

…and here is a ‘LIKE’ , which I really did like but as suggested, copied and pasted instead

From Amy Smith

“Did you know the people that are the strongest are usually the the most sensitive? Did you know the people who exhibit the most kindness are the first to get mistreated? Did you know the ones who takes care of others all the time are usually the ones who need it the most? Did you know the 3 hardest things to say are I love you, I’m sorry and Help me. Sometimes just because a person looks happy, you might have to look past their smile and see how much pain they may be in. To all of my friends who are going through some issues right now– Lets start an intention avalanche. We all need positive intentions right now. If I don’t see your name I’ll understand. May I ask my friends wherever you might be, to kindly copy & paste this status to give a moment of support to all those who may have family problems, health struggles, job issues, worries of any kind and just need to know that someone cares. Do it for all of us for nobody is immune. I hope to see this on the walls of all my friends just for moral support. I know some will!!! I did it for a friend and you can too. ….COPY AND PASTE THIS ONE, NO SHARE BUTTON, BECAUSE KINDNESS IS AN EFFORT, GIVES FROM THE HEART;NOT A PRESS OF A BUTTON”


* ‘Oh Very Young’ Cat Stevens

Local Democracy and Health

Public Health in Tough TimesWhat should public health look like in tough times – what are the strategies and actions that will do the most to tackle health inequalities and support the most vulnerable?

If you want to get a really good feeling for the scale of the challenge look at the latest publication from the Centre for Welfare Reform “A Fair Society? How the cuts target disabled people” this highlights that:

  • Of the £75.2 billion to be cut by government by 2015 50% falls on two areas – benefits and local government – these two areas only make up 26.8% of government expenditure.
  • Local Governments primary function (over 60%) is to provide social care to children and adults
  • By 2015 local government and housing will be cut by £16.2 billion – a real terms cut of 41.9%
  • Benefits for disabled people and the poorest will also have been cut by £18 billion a…

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The Emotional Impact of Trauma

Don’t miss the free event at the Royal Armouries on Friday January 25th from 6.30 p.m. to 8.30 p.m. called ‘The Emotional Impact of Trauma’, which ‘offers the opportunity to learn more about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and how it can affect those who suffer from it.’ There’ll be talks from James Allen, whose photographs are currently showing as part of the ‘A War Within’ exhibition (see more below); Peter Carruthers, who describes the vision for his film ‘Fallout’, and Simon Buckden, a PTSD sufferer. You’ll also have the chance to see the ‘A War Within’, and ‘Fallout’.

The ‘War Within’ exhibition was launched in October, as part of the Love Arts Leeds Festival, and finishes on 8 February 2013. It’s billed as suitable for:everyone, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. I attended the launch, so here are some images to whet your appetite.

A War Within is really worth a look. Photojournalist James Arthur Allen interviewed a whole range of people, many soldiers, but also people who have suffered childhood trauma, or domestic violence. It sounds as if it might be overwhelmingly heavy, and it is hard to read about what people have been through, and see the effect it’s had. But it’s also very moving, and in the end uplifting to see and read about how people have struggled to heal, and to continue to live – to see images of, for instance Martin, haunted by memories of his time in Iraq, with the medals he’d unsuccessfully tried to sell on e-bay, or hear about Simon’s experiences on active duty in Bosnia.

The exhibition is human size – there are only about 40 images, with a little text with each one to give context. There are recordings of several people talking you can listen to on headphones, which adds another dimension. There’s also a brilliant cartoon from Fettle Animation depicting the effect of returning from war, needing and finding help for Post Traumatic Stress.

The ‘official’ release about this exhibition says ‘A War Within raises awareness of mental health difficulties, such as depression, anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), experienced by veterans and the wider Armed Forces’ community.

With recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, the mental health of veterans has not been far from the political agenda, attracting widespread media interest and scrutiny. As serving personnel leave the Armed Forces, the responsibility for healthcare is transferred to the NHS.

A War Within is a photographic exhibition exploring the effects of war from the perspective of its subjects – giving them a voice and educating the viewer.

James Arthur Allen is a UK-based freelance photojournalist, who graduated from University College Falmouth in 2012 with a First Class Honours degree in Press and Editorial Photography. He has also undertaken hostile-environment training in preparation for his career as a photojournalist.

The exhibition is a unique partnership with the Love Arts Leeds Festival, and Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust’s Vulnerable Veterans and Adult Dependants’ Service.

Visitor Feedback
“Using art to look at these issues opens a lot of minds…”

“Very well organised, superb exhibition, well done”

“Great partnership work makes Royal Armouries relevant to current issues”

“Didn’t realise how wide reaching PTSD was before seeing this exhibition”

“Really good exhibition, very good way of getting people to talk about a relevant topic”

“I really enjoyed the speeches and found the photo’s really powerful, thank you”

“Fantastic idea and concept, would love to see more”

“Really innovative, great collaborations, genuinely inspiring”

“Brilliant photography from James, welcoming atmosphere – warm reception. Inspiring and intimate talks from everyone involved. Great exhibition.

Reminder To Self


I never stop… and I never start. I live in a strange limbo.

Here’s a quick reminder: Please remember to allow yourself to slow down, focus on your breath… Breathe in the smell of a warm drink, feel your lips on the rim and listen as you place the cup down, watch the ripples. Allow yourself to slow down, to breathe, to be.


DIY Fitness – Free, Outdoors and great for well-being! How about it?

Social Media is a fantastic way at keeping in touch with people and can aid well-being.   But sometimes ‘well-being’ involves putting the Smartphone down and switching the computer off.  Ouch!

There isn’t anyway of getting around it, we need to do it – exercise!  Regular exercise can add years to our life and it can lift our mood.  I recently joined a gym on a short-term basis however I am afraid to say I didn’t go often.  I found it a little lonely!  The environment didn’t feel right for me and it was too expensive. However for some people using a gym maybe an excellent way of keeping fit and there are usually free trials available.

images (1)fitness

I think I prefer to be outdoors, get some fresh air and be with others. So how about a Power-walk in Hyde Park? Anyone up for it; or have any other ideas? Or do you know of any outdoor free or other cheap ways to keep fit that you would like to share?  Please leave a comment or send us a tweet with any ideas!

The NHS Choice Website claims that Research by the University of Essex has shown that exercising outdoors boosts people’s physical and mental health more than going to indoor gyms, even in winter. The National Trust has written about the outdoor gym and they claim  that Just five minutes in the outdoor gym every day can lead to improvements in mood and self-esteem, as well as physical fitness.

They report these benefits on their website

Benefits of exercising outdoors

  • Burn up to 20 percent more calories
  • Work harder and improve balance on uneven surfaces and in natural elements
  • Perfect full body workout
  • Vitamin D boost good for bones
  • A really healthy glow

So it’s January and I can’t think of a better month to start. Please send any comments or ideas – Thank You

VIcky 🙂

Food for well for general well being

Friends of Leeds Kirkgate Market

This is what £24 got a Friend of Leeds Kirkgate Market on Saturday 12th of January 2013:

1 big bag of small English Delicious apples,

3 small punnets of blueberries,

1 big head of celery,

1 celery root as big as a baby’s head,

1 butternut squash,

10 sweet satsumas,

5 umbrella mushrooms,

3 mangoes,

5 fairtrade bananas,

3 fennel bulbs,

4 big oranges,

6 unwaxed lemons,

7 carrots,

5 medium white onions,

3 regular zucchini,

3 round Spanish zucchini,

2 medium broccoli heads,

1 small cauliflower,

2 spinach bunches,

1 bunch of parsley,

2 big pieces of fresh ginger root,

2 radicchio heads,

4 heads of Spanish garlic

VARIETY, QUALITY AND LOW PRICE, it’s what is all about at Leeds kirkgate Market. But will this survive Leeds Council’s plans for it?

Council officers are working on a series on proposals that will be discussed by councillors in either February…

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The Present, a short film about a woman’s emotional journey to work.

Last year I took part in a film making project with the community group ‘Arts and Minds of Leeds.  A few of us, who were new to film-making were involved in this creative project which culminated in our short films being shown as part of last years Love Arts festival and The Leeds Film Festival – Film to Change event.

My film had a theme of emotional well-being and is about a woman who is struggling to manage stress and unhelpful patterns of thinking – which is causing her to be unhappy. However she manages to find some respite from this,   watch and you shall find out….


The Present she unwraps is actually a gift which allows her to become more aware of  The Present moment.  We can worry about the future, ruminate about the past and dwell upon problems to the extent that it interferes with our quality of life and decreases our sense of well-being. This kind of thinking can be all-consuming and leave little space for anything else,  which may leave us feeling depleted and stressed. Research has shown that purposefully paying attention to the present moment is a technique which can help to manage this. Once the woman in the film has opened the present – she is then able to appreciate the beautiful roses on her desk that she previously hadn’t noticed.

It’s not always easy to change the way we think or to manage difficult emotions but there are techniques which can help. I had recently attended a Mindfulness Meditation Course which was the inspiration behind the film.

Sophie MacWhannell is the actress who played the woman in the film.  She is Leeds-based, very talented, passionate and extremely supportive.  I am going to plug Sophie because she was so fantastic !  Not only has she acted in various plays and short films but she also performs as part of a comedy improvisation group called Monkeyheads AND is part of *Urban Sprawl.  She recently performed with Urban Sprawl in the play;  ‘Wrecked’ which was also part of the Love Arts Leeds festival. So if you need a talented and dedicated actress – look Sophie up!

Thanks also to Carl Allport, who was the course tutor and teaches at Leeds Metropolitan University, to Arts and Minds and also to Inkwell.   Also thanks to everyone else who took part whose names are in the credits, it was very collaborative and nice to work in a great team.

Hope you enjoyed it, would love any feedback, thanks Vicky 🙂

Also If you are interested in taking part in the making of a film contact Arts and Minds.

*Urban Sprawl is Yorkshire’s only homeless theatre company. Formed in August 2004, we are committed towards using theatre as an arts engagement tool to help people affected by homelessness and related issues.Urban Sprawl meet every Monday at Multiple Choice 5-8 pm.If your interested in finding out more email us at