Wednesday, 15 June 2016

The new Animal Farm and the House of Lords

Ideas for therapy centre at animal farm launched at the Lords
The Cholmondeley Room is a rather graciously decorated, Victorian-feeling, reception area which opens out into the red-striped marquee and terrace on the Thames – where we were entertained by the battle of the Brexit boats, shouting at each other, flying provocative flags, and playing extremely loud rock and hip-hop music.

But inside, it seemed that everybody agreed what a good idea it was for people to be helped by animals as they themselves were helping the animals. And everybody included a lot of people with power, budgets and influence in Windsor, Maidenhead and Slough.  The eastern side of the Royal County of Berkshire, indeed. I imagine at the horses and horticulture for mental health might well be something that would appeal to the family who sometimes live just over the river from us!

The ones I managed to talk to included:
  • ·        Derek Bishop – Mayor of Eton. Very interested, said to get back to him if we need. Says Wooldridge Trust (?) may be able to help.
  • ·        Bob Jones – Slough Business Community Partnership. . Knows us through our greencare horticultural project at Iver, keen to hear more.
  • ·        Paula Greves – Trustee and treasurer of TASUK. Very keen on the idea of collaboration, knows the local system.
  • ·        Adam Afriyie – Windsor MP (Con). Fairly interested (more in his speech than in person), and suggested to get onto councillors, CCGs etc.
  • ·        Phil Bicknell - WAM Councillor (Park Ward, Con and deputy council leader), interested, but clearly very ‘political’ and suggested we need to involve David Coppinger.
  • ·        David Coppinger -  WAM Councillor (Bray Ward, Con) who knows the mechanics of the CCG and where we should start 
  • ·        Diana Coad – SBC Councillor (Langley, UKIP) – very keen, was on CCG, and is also on TASUK board of trustees, wants to help.
  • ·        Wayne Strutton – SBC Councillor (Haymill and Lynch Hill, Con) – didn’t seem to be directly interested himself, but supportively suggested we get Gus O’Donnell on board (GP commissioner lead MH)

… and a few others I can’t remember!

And here’s what I wrote:
Dear supporters and friends of Sara and The Animal Sanctuary UK
It was good to meet and talk to some of you at the House of Lords reception today - about the idea of an NHS collaboration with The Animal Sanctuary UK to develop a ground-breaking Ecotherapy centre at Bell Farm (to include animals, horticulture and other nature-based activities).
 I didn’t get to mention to some of you that I come from a very old mental health tradition of ‘therapeutic communities’ – where services are co-created with service users and peer mentors, to tackle stigma and generate real empowerment.
It would even be possible for a well organised therapeutic community to be thoroughly involved in designing and building cutting-edge eco buildings, if we get the funding right.
So we could have a fantastic opportunity here to build on some of the great work that has been happening in East Berks – particularly in Slough CMHT and Hope Recovery College – and really take mental health ‘out of the institution’ and ‘into the real community’. I really believe it could be a model for others to follow, if we do it properly.
I’m writing to remind you of the potential for the idea, and put us all in touch with each other. Please feel free to copy it to anybody else who might be interested.
The key person who unfortunately couldn’t come today was Geoff Dennis (Head of Slough Mental Health for SBC and BHFT), who some of you know – so I will copy him in too.
I hope this will help to get the ball rolling, and I look forward to helping in any way I can.
So watch this space.

If you know how to get funding for things like this, please reply – or if you know some eco-architects who might be interested, we’d be very interested to meet.

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