Mental Health Conversations – Welfare, Benefits and Debt

April 2, 2018 at 5:35 pm


As Bristol prepares for the roll out of Universal Credit in 2018, Bristol Independent Mental Health Network (BIMHN) and Community Access Support Service (CASS), Bristol City Council Public Health and the Clinical Commissioning Group invite workers, group leaders and service users to join the city’s second mental health conversation, this time about debt and benefits.

In this period of growing austerity, mental health and finance often impact each other; issues with either one can cause people to spiral into crisis.

With service users already affected by welfare reform and Universal Credit on the horizon, how do advice and mental health workers join together and ensure clients have a safety net in place?

Join us to:

  • Make connections between the mental health and advice sectors
  • Identify issues relevant to both mental health work and advice work
  • Work together to identify solutions


Book your free ticket to attend


Rather than being a Universal Credit update or a chance for individuals to discuss their benefit entitlement, this event will provide a rare opportunity for interested parties to come together with a view to improving the services provided to Bristol’s communities.

The event will include information stalls, networking opportunities, discussion groups and speakers, with outcomes feeding into the Thrive Bristol program.

Speakers will present a national perspective on welfare reform and mental health, a local Bristol-focused view, an advice sector view and most importantly a lived experience of mental health perspective.

Lunch and refreshments will be provided and timings for the day can be found below:


  • 10:00 – 10:30 Registration, Networking & Stalls
  • 10:30 – 1:00 Speakers, Plenary & Workshop
  • 1:00 – 1:45 Lunch & Stalls
  • 1:45 – 3:30 Workshop & Closing Plenary
  • 3:30 – 4:00 Stalls & Networking


You can book your ticket to attend here and we look forward to seeing you on May 8th.

April 2, 2018 at 5:35 pm | News | No comment

Bristol wins bid to become a Time to Change hub to change how we think and act about mental health

February 28, 2018 at 12:00 pm

This week Bristol has been named a Time to Change hub, set up to change how we all think and act about mental health locally.

Time to Change hubs are networks of local organisations and individuals committed to ending negative attitudes and behaviours towards people experiencing mental health problems in their communities.

Too many people with mental health problems are made to feel isolated, ashamed and worthless. But with the right support from those around them, people can recover and have equal opportunities in all areas of life. Encouraging people to open up to mental health – to talk and to listen – is the first step.

Time to Change hubs have been created to combine the insights from the national campaign with local knowledge to support communities, workplaces and schools to take action to improve the way everyone thinks and acts about mental health problems in their area.

Time to Change, the national campaign run by charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, launched its first regional hubs in March 2017. The announcement of four further hubs (Waltham Forest, Nottingham, Bristol, and Worcestershire) is part of the campaign’s three year plan to establish a network of hubs across England to provide a focus for local campaigning work.

In order to be named a Time to Change hub, local partnerships had to demonstrate their commitment to:

  • Embedding anti-stigma and discrimination work in their own organisations
  • Campaigning for change in their communities
  • Putting people with personal experience of mental health problems at the heart of their work.

Time to Change Bristol is made up of the city council, Bristol Independent Mental Health Network (BIMHN), Wellbeans Initiative CIC and Rethink Bristol with support from partners across the city – including employers, unions, universities, police and the NHS.


Time to Change Bristol

Time to Change champions at Cabot Circus, Bristol


Cllr Asher Craig, Cabinet Member for Public Health said:

“One of our key ambitions is for Bristol to become a city where everyone feels safe speaking out about mental health issues and where we can secure the support we need when we need it. Becoming a Time to Change hub will be instrumental in the work to bring our city together to tackle mental health stigma and discrimination as part of our new ‘Thrive Bristol’ programme. We are leading this with Bristol’s Anti Stigma Alliance with the help of our local universities, employers and unions alongside our partners in the voluntary sector, NHS and police.  By working together as a city and using the expertise and support offered by the national Time to Change campaign we be believe we can make great progress towards Bristol becoming a city free from stigma and discrimination around mental health.”

Tom Renhard, Representation & Accountability Officer for BIMHN, said:

“Here at BIMHN we are thrilled that Bristol will be hosting a Time to Change hub. It is a testament to the work of local individuals and organisations that have been at the forefront of challenging mental health stigma and discrimination for many years. As a member-led organisation for those with lived experience of mental health, we are pleased to be leading the coordination of the hub, alongside Bristol City Council and local partners, ensuring that those with personal experience of mental health problems are truly at the heart of everything the hub does.”

Liz Andrews, Open Dialogue Therapist for Wellbeans Initiative CIC, said:

“We were privileged to be involved with the Time to Change Pilot Hub, 2015 / 16 and what an amazing, incredible year it was! To work with, and, witness such change in self-esteem and confidence with so many passionate and dedicated champions was all inspiring! We are thrilled yet again, to work with Time to Change during the coming year, enabling us to embed the work of Time to Change throughout the city and wider communities, creating sustainability and continuing its legacy in the years to come.”

Debi Hadley, Service Manager for Bristol Community Support Services, said:

“Our Bristol Community Support Services (Rethink Mental Illness) feel passionate about being part of the TTC Bristol Hub, and look forward to working with our partners to enable more people with lived experience to fulfil their ambitions of challenging discrimination and promoting mental health across the City.”

Since their initial launch, Time to Change regional hubs have successfully campaigned to end mental health stigma and discrimination. Their work has ranged from closing down a stigmatising game ‘experience’ where participants are challenged to escape from a scary ‘asylum’ to supporting Time to Talk Day (1 February 2018) and running events to delivering PR campaigns aimed at improving understanding and respect for people living with a mental health problem. 

Jo Loughran, Operations Director at Time to Change, said:

“We’re really pleased to be working with organisations and individuals in Bristol to create a sustainable campaign for change, tailored to the needs and priorities of the local community.

“In the past our work locally has been driven by the passion and commitment of individual champions. By having hubs in place we’re making sure the wider community is more involved and that there is strong local leadership and expertise in place to provide support.”

February 28, 2018 at 12:00 pm | News | No comment

Do you have what it takes to be a Trustee for the Independent Mental Health Network?

January 10, 2018 at 1:26 am

The Independent Mental Health Network (IMHN) are recruiting Trustees to join its Board!

Are you someone with a passion for improving mental health services and empowering those with lived experience of mental health?

Are you willing to give about half a day a month to assist in influencing the development of a young, dynamic and growing organisation?

Do you support the principles of lived experience leadership and have a willingness to ensure this remains embedded in everything we do?

Then we want to hear from you!

How to apply

To apply to be a Trustee, please send a CV and a covering letter to, by no later than Thursday 8th February 2018.

Interviews will take place week commencing Monday 19th February 2018.

For an informal conversation about the role or organisation, please email Tom Renhard on

We would especially welcome applications from those with qualifications or extensive experience in any of the following areas:

  • HR and payroll
  • Finance, fundraising and bid writing
  • Law, advocacy and complaints
  • Public relations

We would especially welcome applications from individuals who identify as:

  • Women
  • BAME

A copy of the recruitment pack can be found here.


Trustee Opportunity Information

Nominated Trustee recruitment pack

IMHN Constitution (last amended January 2017)

IMHN Constitution – Bye Laws (last amended January 2017)


Further Information

IMHN exists to represent those with lived experience of mental health, uniting voices for positive change in how mental health services are delivered.

We’re governed by a board of up to twelve Trustees, who work alongside our branches and volunteers to develop a thriving and active organisation improving mental health services and empowering those with lived experience to have their voice heard.

The charity is young and working to develop its first strategic plan that will embed our core objectives into everything that we do. It’s an exciting time for us, having just hosted Peerfest 2017 in Bristol with local partners after competing in a national tendering exercise and taken part in several ward visits and service redesign exercises including Bristol’s mental health crisis houses.

This is a fantastic opportunity to take on an essential role in a developing and growing charity committed to changing lives and we look forward to receiving your application.


January 10, 2018 at 1:26 am | News | 1 comment

Bristol mental health services Christmas opening times 2017

December 18, 2017 at 1:25 am




Following the success of last year’s Christmas opening hours guide to mental health services in Bristol, we are pleased to announce we have produced an updated version for this year.

The guide, produced in partnership with Bristol Clinical Commissioning Group and Bristol Mental Health, lists relevant mental health and wellbeing support available over the holiday period. It brings together information about mental health services from both NHS and voluntary & community sector partners on support that can be accessed.



BIMHN Representation & Accountability Officer, Tom Renhard said:

“The Christmas period can be especially difficult for some, particularly for people who may feel increasingly isolated during this time or who may be struggling with their mental health and well being.

“The aim of this guide is to assist in helping people access the right support at the right time, should they need to. I would encourage people to make use of this guide as appropriate and share with work colleagues, family and friends.”

You can find a copy of the guide here.

December 18, 2017 at 1:25 am | News | No comment

BIMHN enters Silver Birch inpatient ward to assess patient care quality

October 24, 2017 at 1:37 pm


Members of Bristol Independent Mental Health Network (BIMHN) are on site at Silver Birch inpatient ward today reviewing the quality of the care patients are receiving.

The members of the team on the visit all have direct lived experience of mental health themselves and are talking to patients and staff, as well as looking at a number of other areas, including: availability of information in understandable formats, access to advocacy, the general environment, ligature risks and how the needs of patients are responded to.

Future Visits

This visit is part of a series of visits that will also see BIMHN members enter several other wards over the next two months, including Aspen, Lime and Elizabeth Casson wards. The frequency of the visits have been stepped up in the wake of the closure of Laurel Ward earlier this year following an incident where a patient was locked in their room.

Earlier this year the team visited Hazel Ward at Callington Road, the male adult Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), highlighting areas of best practice and concerns, and providing a number of recommendations to Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust.

Further visits are also due to take place in the new year, with all visits picking up points highlighted in the recent CQC inspection.


Do you have direct lived experience of being on a mental health inpatient ward or do you support someone who has done so previously / is currently on a ward? Get in touch with the BIMHN team to share your experiences by emailing:

All information will be treated in the strictest of confidence by the organisation.


Notes: Silver Birch ward is an inpatient mental health unit at Callington Road Hospital, Bristol. The unit is described as an adult acute inpatient ward. More information about the ward can be found here.

October 24, 2017 at 1:37 pm | News | No comment

BIMHN calls for increased scrutiny on treatment of inpatients after ward closure

September 13, 2017 at 11:54 am


BIMHN is calling for increased scrutiny over the treatment of inpatients. The call, follows the continued closure of mental health inpatient unit, Laurel Ward at Callington Road Hospital. This will include a user-led visit to review the ward.

Laurel Ward is a later life inpatient ward at Callington Road Hospital in Bristol. It was closed shortly before a CQC inspection in June 2017 with limited information made publicly available at the time of the closure.

It has since emerged that the closure was as a result of safety concerns raised amid a patient being “unlawfully restricted” after being locked in their room.


A spokesperson for Bristol Independent Mental Health Network (BIMHN) commented:

“We are deeply concerned over the ongoing closure of Laurel Ward. There must be increased scrutiny of the care people are receiving when residing in an inpatient setting. We recognise that patient safety and dignity must be a top priority when someone is being supported by mental health services, especially where their legal rights may be restricted under the Mental Health Act 1983. BIMHN will continue to monitor the situation closely and is making regular communications to both Bristol CCG and the service provider of the ward: Avon & Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust (AWP).”

Questions to AWP on Laurel Ward closure

In a response to a public statement released by AWP on 16th August, the following day BIMHN has written to the organisation. We are requesting further information and assurances on a number of issues, including:

  • Some family members and carers were not made aware at the time and in fact found out via the BBC news article. The statement suggests that all were notified at the time, could you please clarify this?
  • What were the circumstances that led to a patient being locked in their room?
  • How long was the patient locked in their room for?
  • What is being done in regards to training for staff to ensure they are effectively supported to carry out their roles? Does this include face-to-face training or just online/e-learning training?
  • Could you please confirm what steps are being taken to make the ward “dementia-friendly” and how this is being co-produced with service user and carer involvement?

Next steps…

Whilst we are yet to receive a formal response at the time of publication, we have separately agreed a visit will take place by BIMHN representatives next month along with visits to other wards at the hospital.

The Board of AWP shall be meeting this afternoon (Wednesday 13th September 2017, 3 – 4:30 pm) and BIMHN members will be in attendance.


Would you like to feedback your experiences of accessing mental health support in the area? Email BIMHN on to confidentially share your personal story and help improve future mental health services in the area.

If you would like to know more about some of the locally available services, please visit:

September 13, 2017 at 11:54 am | News | No comment

Bristol Mental Health Services for Children & Young People

August 13, 2017 at 5:18 pm


Bristol CCG have co-produced a directory of mental health services for children and young people in Bristol.

The directory aims to serve as a “single ‘go to’ place for information about children and young people’s emotional health in Bristol.”

Bristol CCG notes in its publication: “It provides a place for children and young people, their families and professionals to get quick, easy and direct access to up-to-date mental health information, including:

• Clear, accurate information about support and services available in Bristol
• Information about a range of common mental health problems such as anxiety and stress
• Self-help tools and information including downloadable resources.”

It has been developed as part of a “five year transformation plan” for children and young people’s mental health services, which is taking place after the publication of the government’s report Future In Mind.

Future In Mind

This follows on from the government’s 2015 report Future In Mind, which called for changes in the way future services are delivered.

The report covers five themes:

  • Promoting resilience, prevention and early intervention
  • Improving access to effective support – a system without tiers
  • Care for the most vulnerable
  • Accountability and transparency
  • Developing the workforce

Locally this has seen changes to mental health services in Bristol, however whether the effects of these changes will lead to long-lasting improvements for Bristol’s children and young people remains to be seen, with recent reports noted that Eating Disorder Services for children and young people are under huge pressure, with only 18% seen within the four week target time compared with a national average of 75%.


Links to the Directory and further information about Bristol’s Emotional and Mental Health Wellbeing Plan can be found below.


Click here to go to the Directory

Click here to see more information about Bristol’s Emotional and Mental Health Wellbeing Plan

Click here to see a guide to children and young people’s emotional health services



August 13, 2017 at 5:18 pm | News | No comment

Join us for Peerfest 2017!

August 3, 2017 at 2:00 pm


Taking place this year on October 9th 2017, Peerfest is a national annual event celebrating the importance, power and diversity of peer support. It’s a welcoming, inclusive and inspirational event bringing peers together to network, share skills and experiences through workshops, creative activities, debate and The Marsh Awards.

We are thrilled to be working alongside Mind and the National Planning Team to deliver Peerfest 2017. This one day event will be a mix of creative workshops, open spaces, friendly stalls and rousing debates.

Alongside lead partner Bristol Independent Mental Health Network (BIMHN), the team this year includes: Bristol Survivors Network, Changes Bristol, Freedom of Mind C.I.C and WellBeans Initiative C.I.C.


Representation & Accountability Officer for BIMHN, Tom Renhard, said:

“We are really excited to have the opportunity to bring Peerfest to Bristol this year. Given it is now in its fifth year, there will be a lot to live up to and we are looking forward to making this one the best one yet!

“It is also an interesting time for the city, with peer support playing an increasingly important role in communities. We hope that Peerfest 2017 will aid the development of that discussion through a host of interactive and creative activities, whilst not shying away from the key debates and challenges facing peer support.”


Ticket Information

Day time tickets to the event will be free (and in very high demand). Our evening entertainment tickets will be a suggested donation of £5 per person.

The first wave of tickets will go on general sale on Thursdays 3rd August at 5 pm. Please check our dedicated eventbrite page to book a ticket.


Want to volunteer or run an activity / stall at Peerfest 2017?

We have many opportunities to participate in what is set to be a spectacular event. If you would like to do this then please follow the links below to express an interest:


Volunteer at the event

Apply to host a stall

Run a workshop or activity


I would like to join the lived experience reference group:

Role Description: Peerfest Lived Experience Reference Group Role Description FINAL

Terms of Reference: Peerfest 2017 – Lived Experience Reference Group v2


Meeting dates of reference group:

Tuesday 15th August, 6 – 8 pm

Tuesday 12th September, 6 – 8 pm


If you would like any further information, then please get in touch with Tom on


We look forward to seeing you at Peerfest 2017!



August 3, 2017 at 2:00 pm | News | No comment

Bristol Crisis Line Changes

May 21, 2017 at 8:09 am

BIMHN have been involved in the co-production of improvements to the Bristol Crisis Service to ensure those in need get the right support. This would not have been possible without service users and carers with support from Bristol CCG and Bristol Mental Health.

The improvements…

A new call management system went 8th May 2017. This is to make sure that if you call the line you get through to the correct team.

Offering better support to frequent callers. People were calling the line for non-urgent queries meaning people in crisis struggled to get through at times. The introduction of updated care plans and policies for call handlers has seen a dramatic decrease in frequent callers. Frequent caller numbers will continue to be monitored.

The introduction of Crisis Cards. If you are a current Service User there is a chance you will be asked to take part in the pilot. BIMHN would like to hear your feedback if you are part of this group. You can find out more about the pilot by contacting

Improving the Bristol Mental Health Website. Service users identified that the BMH website was not very accessible to those in a crisis or needing urgent help. Service Users and Carers have helped develop a new homepage to make it easier to access information about crisis services. You can see the new website here.


Amelia, Membership Engagement Officer, said:

“Co-producing this work has, at times, been challenging but it’s been worth it in the end. The positive feedback received from people about the new improvements has been overwhelming but it is important to remember all this wouldn’t have been possible without months of hard work from BIMHN members and other service users in Bristol.”

BBC Points West have covered the launching of the Crisis Card, you can see their video here.


May 21, 2017 at 8:09 am | News | No comment

Mental Health Awareness Week 2017

May 3, 2017 at 5:58 pm

Mental Health Awareness Week has been held by the Mental Health Foundation in May since 2000 and this year, the theme is “Surviving or Thriving” and this year falls between the 8th and 14th of May. (more…)

May 3, 2017 at 5:58 pm | News | No comment

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