Mind in Camden Voices UnlockedA charity that provides services for people with mental health problems is to expand its services in prisons and secure units for people who are hearing voices, thanks to a funding boost.

For the past five years, Mind in Camden (MiC) has been developing peer support groups in prisons and secure units to improve the wellbeing of offenders who experience distress through hearing voices. The project, Voices Unlocked, aims to reduce this distress by providing a safe setting where people who hear voices can share experiences and coping strategies, and relieve the stigma and isolation they face. 

Now, thanks to a grant of £132,350 from the City of London Corporation’s charitable funder, City Bridge Trust, MiC will be able continue this work and set up support groups in young offenders’ institutions and immigration detention centres, and to pilot groups for ex-offenders released into the community. 

The services provided by MiC include a daily programme of activities to promote wellbeing and recovery; a service for people addicted to minor tranquilisers; a social prescribing project run in partnership with GPs; and projects for people who hear voices. These include developing peer support groups in the community and in places of detainment, as well as projects for young people.

Alison Gowman, chairman of the City of London Corporation’s City Bridge Trust Committee, said: “This project builds on 10 years of practice and research which shows that peer support helps people who are hearing voices to cope better, regain control and reduce stress. This support is very much needed and the expansion of the project will help hundreds more people over the next few years. We are pleased to be helping such a worthwhile project making a real difference do the lives of many on a daily basis. City Bridge Trust is committed to supporting Londoners to make the city a fairer place to work and live.”

Brian Dawn, chief executive of MiC, added: “We are delighted that City Bridge Trust has contributed so generously to our Voices Unlocked project – this will enable us to provide much needed peer support to vulnerable people detained in prisons, secure units and immigration removal centres in London who are distressed by hearing voices and similar mental health experiences. 

“The staff and the people detained in these institutions are clearly under a great deal of pressure at this time, so it is especially important that organisations like the City Bridge Trust and ourselves work together to support them.”

Picture: Excerpt from Mind in Camden's 'Voices Unlocked' video - artwork and words by members of hearing voices peer support groups at Wandsworth and Holloway Prisons.