We are a user led organisation which values the contribution of all service users, staff and other stakeholders. We respect difference and are committed to anti-oppressive practice.
This is an extract published on our local MIND website. It sounds impressive. It sounds clear and concise and above all it sounds good. The problem is in practice it just doesn’t work out like that.
Take for instance the comment by the effective boss of the organisation when asking a member of staff about questions from the users. “have we got any sensible questions?” Now this is bad enough but he said it well in earshot of the users, and whilst most might have shrugged it off as ‘par for the course’ I for one found it offensive.
The problem is that this comment really does illustrate the real Values of our local MIND. The receptionist left an old and confused man standing in the pouring rain a few months ago because the group session that he had come to take part in didn’t start for another three minutes. I turned up just at the moment that the speaker at the door told him he’d have to wait outside. It was dark and the rain was torrential, the man didn’t have an umbrella. As we stood together we both got very wet, and just to the left of the door was a bay window throwing welcome light into the wet gloom, it was the waiting room. I asked staff why we weren’t allowed to use the waiting room and I was told that it was MIND policy. I became a little more insistent and eventually was told that we were a difficult group, that we might see staff in the lobby and ask them questions, that the staff might be on a break. I challenged this assumption and ws told that that was how it was.
To cut a long story as short as I can, I asked the organisation to review this rule, telling them that I thought it was a bad rule. No reply, and so I did a little research and sent them information regarding human rights and Mental Health equality, advising them that they had one of two choices. Either allow us to use the waiting room or make a rule that no one could use the waiting room. They had to treat us (Mental Health Patients) equally. A few weeks passed and no reply. I emailed MIND’s Central Office in London and outlined the situation. I then emailed our local MIND group advising them that I would be contacting the Mental Health Equality Ombudsman if I didn’t get a reply to my complaint soon.
The following day I got an email from one of the local MIND managers telling me that they had decided that we could use the Waiting room for up to 15 minutes before a group session.
That was a while ago, and we have used the waiting room, and we haven’t bothered the staff. The problem is, I can already detect an unwelcome and discouraging tone when we press the button to come in 15 minutes before a meeting. So much for being user-led and commitment to anti-oppressive practice.
bye bye for now