by Anne Connor, Outside the Box

What would make your life easier? Or better?

What are the things you would like to do if someone helped you plan how to get started?

Over the past few years Outside the Box and other groups have been thinking about how to make Self-directed support work well for people with mental health problems.

Self-directed support – or SDS – is the new way of arranging services and support, to help people have more opportunities and choices in their lives. Some people with mental health problems have been worried that this is not going to help them. Some staff who work in services have been worried too.
• It can be hard to make choices when you can’t look ahead, or don’t feel able to make decisions.
• Change can feel risky.
• There have been stories in the press about people losing services they have, and it can feel safer to stick with what you know.

The new arrangements came into effect in April 2014. A few months before that, there was not much information about how it was going to work. So some of us got together and decided that we would run an event. People could share what they were doing, help each other find solutions, or at least hold hands (literally, if they wanted to) and know that others were also in the dark.

We called the event Permission to Dream, because we were hearing that the first hurdle was being able to feel positive, have ambitions and expectations. You can’t start planning how to achieve your dream if you don’t feel you are allowed to have a dream.

We hoped that maybe 40-50 people would want to come. The response was a lot more than that. We arranged 2 extra events and in the end over 200 people took part. The report from those events is on websites and hundreds more people have read it:

We said that it would be good to get together and hear what happened over the following year. That is what we are doing on 4th March 2015.

This time, we have a logo just for this event.
• It has bright colours because we want to find the positive aspects in SDS and then work hard to realise these for everyone who has a mental health problem.
• It is a balloon, floating up but also under control.
• We’re rising above the landscape so we can see what is happening in lots of places.
• The geese come from Getting There – with the front goose moving the flock forwards, then dropping back for a rest and letting others share the work of making the journey.
• The banner says Permission to Dream 2015, in case we decide to have more events in 2016, 2017 and as long as it takes to make things work.

We hope you’ll take part too.