Reachout Challenge Celebration Event Review

Welcome to another mental health event review. I have not blogged for quite some time off my carer’s blog, although I did do a video blog last week, which will be shown off this blog.

One of the other blogs I contribute to being slamtwigops has been suspended during a transition stage, but as for myself I like doing blogs and I am fairly passionate about mental health or the how carers can contribute in the well-being of others, so I thought to continue blogging off my site.

On the 12th August 6 pm 2014 I decided to pop over to the Croydon Voluntary Action building which is situated over in the London borough of Croydon.


There was a special celebratory event taking place, which celebrated the 18 months of their anti-stigma project. This project was run by “Hear Us Reachout Challenge“.

Croydon Voluntary Action

Hear Us is Croydon’s Mental Health Service User Group which acts as a coordinating body to facilitate, and ensure service users involvement in, the planning, delivery and monitoring of mental health services in Croydon. Helping to improve the quality of the services commissioned and delivered in Croydon objectives.


“Hear us” aims

1.To relieve the needs of people living in the London Borough of Croydon and surrounding areas who have mental health problems by provision of services and advice.

2.To advance education about mental health for the public benefit in the London borough of Croydon and surrounding areas with the object of creating awareness and reducing the stigma attached to mental health.

Going back to reviewing the event, usually when I arrive to events or forums run by “Hear Us” it can sometimes take a little while to get in, but this time I got into the room quite easily. The staff was very friendly and I was given a run down of what to expect at the event.


I noticed a lot of booklets and reading material about the project and I spent some time reading the Bio’s of the volunteers and contributes who work for “Hear US”.

When I sat down to set up my equipment, I was delighted to see that there was a goody bag filled with lots of treats and more information about the event, project and mental health resource information. There was also some sweets, fortune cookies, stress ball and pen, plus water and lots more. This showed how much effort “Hear Us – Reachout Challenge” had taken to provide information and make the event as welcoming as possible.


While we were waiting for the event to start, the audience was treated to some music playing off the speakers, one of the songs was “I am still standing” by Elton John, which I thought was rather fitting. We were shown lots of slide show pictures of what “Hear Us” has been up to over the past 18 month’s since 2014.

After some slides, we then had the Project Manager Jane White speak about “Reach out challenge” and how they were funded by “Time to change“, plus how “Hear Us – Reach out Challenge” were set up to challenge mental health stigma, especially in the London Borough of Croydon.

Jane White - Project Manager

A lot was talking place that day and next up after Jane White spoke about the project, we then had Dr Ray Chapman speak on “Stigma & Discrimination”.

Ray presented on the following

What is stigma
Where does it come from?
Media representation “power” causes problems by stigmatizing mental health
Stereotypes and stigmatization.
What can be done?

Ray Presents on Stigma

Plus Ray then Talked about “positive impact needed from mental health professionals”.  Dr Ray felt things needed to be done things differently and felt Working with partners was key to tackling mental health stigma and discrimination.

I have also done a video blog of the event, which talks a bit more on Ray’s presentation as a review which you can watch below.

After Dr Ray’s presentation, we then had Jane talk more about the volunteers that helped Reach Out Challenge and Visa-Versa. Hearing from the volunteers was perhaps one of my favorite part of the event, because I am quite interested in people’s lives and their experiences. Some of the stories told by the volunteers were very personal and challenging to listen to because of how much each had went through, but I felt I learnt quite a lot from their stories. The learning aspect is good in order to challenge my own prejudices.

Volunteers speak out

The Volunteers spoke about how mental health has affected them.

– What they have been doing on the project
– the highs and lows on mental health
– How they have helped others especially on the work place
– How certain things they tried to cope with mental health did not always work in the past.
– The reasons they got involved in the project.
– Challenging stigma and how its still out there.
– How some lost a lot of opportunities and support once mental health difficulties first hit them, but felt a lot about the project had helped them.
– Some got so involved that they Became a trustee for HearUs

After hearing the volunteers speak, Jane white spoke a bit more on the difficulties the project had faced. She was worried and pondering how to work with organisations in order to get rid of mental health stigma.

We where shown more slides and I was impressed with a slide containing a 1000 photos forming a logo of “Reach out Challenge”.

Impressive Logo

Over the 18 months, The project has worked with 17 organisations. They also Produced positive stories in mental health and have produced many positive changes tackling mental health stigma in Croydon and helping to give those with lived experiences a voice. It is so important those who use mental health services be given the confidence to speak up about what they have gone through, but its also important that they are heard, thus the name of the project “Hear Us”. This is perhaps the same for carers as well.

Over the 18 months the project members tested How useful the project has been, so we were shown graphs produced on the slides.

Jane White reminded us to Sign a pledge with “Time to Change” so we can challenge ourselves for the better helping to combat and reduce mental health stigma.

Time To Change "Pledge Wall"

Next we were shown the latest “Time To Change” campaign which is the #wolfpack video, #wolfpack probably being the hashtag on twitter.

Dog video

I could not stay for long because I had to rush back in order to look after my mother, but before I left. I ate some Fish and Chips provided by “Hear Us – Reach Out Challenge”.


Eventually Sue Baker who is the Director of Time to Change arrived to speak to us at the event. Sue Thanked HearUs for all their work and she spoke about how change is becoming to take effect. She talked about the day due to Robin Williams death on death about depression, but she feels the media is a lot more supportive of such news, because in the past there would be some ridicule and stigma coming from the media.

Sue Baker Speaks about Stigma

She feels help is possible, recovery is possible, but depression is the biggest thief of all, but it does not need to be if stigma is broken. Change is happening, but there is a long way to go, but having conversations can be tough, but it does work.

Overall I enjoyed attending and blogging about the event, as a carer I still feel I hold a lot of prejudices about mental health and sometimes I lack the patience to understand those using mental health services.  I hope such events provided by HearUs can help me challenge those prejudices as soon as possible.

Group Photo