CoolTan winners 180The role of the voluntary and community sector in mental health provision was highlighted by the Mental Health Providers Forum (MHPF) at their annual Voluntary Sector Awards [22 April].

The awards, held at the Kia Oval in London, saw a "wide range of high calibre" entrants across the 6 categories, which demonstrated a service or project that exemplifies the impact and vital role voluntary and community sector organisations can have in people’s lives every day.

Kathy Roberts, chief executive of MHPF, said: "We warmly congratulate all those honoured by these Awards. The quality of the entries shows the strength of the sector to provide services which make a difference to people affected by mental health problems.

"The feedback from the judges shows that the mental health voluntary sector is responsive to the needs of individuals and MHPF is proud to represent our membership and the wider sector, ensuring that it is promoted within the wider health and care system. We look forward to seeing the continual development of innovative, collaborative services that will shape the future of service provision."

The winners were:
Strengthening Citizen Voice, supported and judged by service user-led organisation NSUN
Winner: CoolTan Arts for their self-advocacy project Skills for a Stronger Voice. The project gives participants the opportunity to advocate on issues affecting their lives. The aim is to enable people to self-direct their social and mental health care.
Michelle Baharier, CEO at CoolTan Arts said: "We are very excited to win this award and were commended on our innovation and creativity by the judges. During this time of great change to benefits and services it is very important that people have a place where they can learn how to assert and use their rights. It is essential that we can find funding to continue this service, keeping people well and out of hospital and delivering great social benefit for the whole community."

Employment, supported and judged by the Department of Health
Winner: Mental Health Concern for their Moving Forward Newcastle service. It is a community-based service that helps people to participate in mainstream activity, build social networks and re-enter education and employment.

Integration, supported and judged by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services
Winner: Mosaic Clubhouse for their role in the development and delivery of the Lambeth Living Well Network.

Personalised care and support in mental health, supported and judged by Think Local Act Personal
Winner: Action for Asperger’s for their work in providing bespoke 24-hour accessible support to people with and those affected by autism. They use a variety of new technologies to extend their support to people nationally and internationally.

Crisis Care, supported and judged by the Department of Health and the Department for Work and Pensions
Winner: Turning Point for their Crisis Point service in Manchester. The service was considered an innovative example of how community-based short stay crisis accommodation can provide an alternative to hospital provision. Read our feature on Crisis Point's services here.

Prevention, supported and judged by Public Health England
It was felt by the judges that 2 entries should be recognised so the prevention category was jointly won by Depression Alliance for their Friends in Need project and the STOP Suicide campaign. Friends In Need is a free and supportive community for everyone affected by depression. Members are able to connect with others, learn new things and provided with the opportunity to support other. The STOP Suicide campaign is a joint project between Mind in Cambridgeshire, Peterborough and Fenland Mind and Lifecraft with support from local NHS and public health teams. The campaign aims to prevent suicides by tackling the myths and taboo around suicide and encouraging members of the public to talk openly about the subject, recognise the warning signs and support those at risk to get help.

More information about MHPF and its member organisations can be found at