The Reachout Challenge is Hear Us’ project
focused on fighting the stigma and discrimination of mental illness and mental
health difficulties. We are a team of people, with a variety of mental health
difficulties, who visit organisations across London to raise awareness. We
encourage the organisations we work with to have a more ‘open policy’ towards
mental health, enabling their staff to talk about their mental wellbeing
without shame and embarrassment.
The Reachout Challenge continues to provide support to the Metropolitan Police’s crisis negotiating course at Hendon Police Training College in North London and also the same course, run twice yearly, at Maidstone Police Training College. These events give the officers a unique opportunity to ask us questions, about living with our mental health challenges, that they cannot do when they are ‘on the job’. The journey continues to be a challenge but we support each other to make it possible to do so. The appreciation shown and feedback we receive is one of the main driving forces to continue and to encourage new people to join us.
“This has been brilliant; I’d love to pass it onto members of my team back in my day role. It has humanised mental illness and I cannot thank these people enough. Their openness and honesty is greatly appreciated and provided a glimpse into their personal life and struggles” .Croydon Police
A Reachout session takes a lot of planning.
We begin the session with a presentation that includes ‘heads up’ where
everyone gets a chance to talk about various diagnoses. We show a short clip
emphasising that mental ill health is invisible and a ‘fun’ Myths and Facts
Participants often feedback that they learn
far more with this model than they ever could in a classroom setting or by
reading a book. During the second part of a session, we break away into small
groups consisting of two or three volunteers and a number of participants, who
then have very candid conversations about our diagnoses and experiences. We
also encourage the staff to share any experiences they have had, either
personally or professionally.
In 2019, we have also had stalls at Croydon’s Gay Pride and Croydon Food Fest, where we were a roaring success; raising over £160.00. However, just as importantly, we managed to hold conversations with many members of the public about their mental health and wellbeing. We promoted services, available within Croydon, to people struggling with their mental health whilst raising the profile of what Hear Us do in the community.
Hear Us have been nominated as one of three charities named by Croydon Co-operative Stores for this year. The Co-operative have raised over £3,800 to date, very much needed to enable The Reachout Challenge to continue to run valuable awareness training at community based services; with the police or other organisations. If you pick up and register a member’s card, you have the opportunity to earn money towards your shopping and vote for us, which increases the donation, that Co-operative Stores will have raised for us, during the year.
“Being part of the Reachout Project has
helped me in so many ways. It has helped me build my very low confidence back
up – enough to go back to work after four years – and increased my self-esteem.
After watching other Reachout Volunteers, I was eventually confident enough to
tell part of my story to police officers. This was so cathartic for me and
helped me gain closure to a very painful period in my life. It helped me combat
my fear of the police after a traumatic experience. Amongst other things I now
help deliver training to SLaM staff from a service user perspective, to
hopefully help improve the experience for other service users and carers”
If you are interested in becoming a Reachout
Volunteer, please contact: