CTA AwardArts in mental health charity CoolTan Arts has been awarded ‘Best Practice in Peer Support Development’ at the Mental Health Providers Forum Best Practice Awards 2013.
The charity's Self Advocacy Skills Training programme for adults with mental distress has been running since February 2010 and develops participants’ knowledge of their rights and awareness of services, so they can represent their own needs.

The programme is innovative because it is the only course of this kind in England and free at the point of access.

'Quality training can empower people'
After receiving the award Phil Ruthen, advocacy training coordinator at CoolTan Arts, said: “Congratulations to everyone who has been involved in, and supported this unique skills training.

"This award demonstrates the effectiveness of mutual support and sharing information and experiences coupled with quality training can empower people in current or past contact with mental health and social care services to be more confident in speaking up for themselves, and supporting others to do so.”

Trained in practical life skills
The project trains participants in practical life skills such as effective communication, assertiveness, alongside specific subjects including managing personal finances, budgets and debts, as well as preparing for changes to health care provision and the benefits system.

It is based in the London borough of Southwark and has had participants from 17 areas in the south of England.
Course training modules are designed by participants in focus groups, which address current needs and aspirations.  Prior participants have developed and delivered their own workshops to the group using knowledge and skills gained.