The Good, The Very Good, The Bad and The Downright Ugly…

On our journey of (r)evolution, developing a voice for those who are most vulnerable in society, we had a mixed bag last week. The Good in the week was meeting the people who are like minded and want to hear that voice. I met with Resolving Chaos’s Dave Mahon who for me has a real handle on the way Peer Support and/or Expert groups should be run from a service provider perspective. He fully gets the “Letting Go Syndrome” and views his role as a provider as one of support with as little management from him as possible but maximum support when requested from the group. He gets that people need to be able to grow and develop.

I also met with my good friend Darren Munius at Lankelly Chase. We were there to help develop the program for the up and coming PCN Residential, but had the opportunity to talk about Expert Link and share positive stories from the world of complex needs. This always gives me heart reminding me what is possible when we work together.

Later in the week we hit the very good. I visited Homeless Link to catch up with the Communications and Research teams for a bit of advice and to plan how to reach a wider audience. The Very Good was I had the chance to sit in with the Expert Advisory Panel and get their input into Expert Link. What is very obvious is the need for us to come together. Although it saddens me to hear some heart wrenching stories about people who cannot get their individual voices heard when trying to deal with their own personal issues around substance misuse, mental health and homelessness, it does underline the need for Expert Link to be amplifying the voices of those that need to be heard. Listening to the EAP also made me think of The Bad, the reasons why so many have complex or multiple needs. We are all products of our environments, and our needs develop from that. So many of the people that I have interviewed over the years that have complex needs can point to an incident or incidents in their lives, mostly childhood that caused them to end up were they are, and yet the very people that shaped their environments and the system that is supposed to support them are clearly not prepared to recognise that and work in an appropriate and holistic way to support them through recovery.

Which brings me onto the very ugly.. the BBC’s Panarama program last week entitled “The VIP Paedophile Ring: What’s The Truth” I have watched the programme and I have also watched an interview with Editor in Chief for Exaro the internet news outlet. Exaro have been leading on a lot of the stories that have been coming out on the historical abuse of children. I can stand here and say that abuse of children did and does exist and that although I recognise that historical cases are hard to prove, the BBC showed a lack of compassion and understanding with its reporting. Why, because over the last few years I have interviewed many people with complex needs and the vast majority point to trauma or abuse in their childhood as the point where they started the journey into complex needs. It takes an incredible amount of strength for abuse victims to come forward and share their story with the authorities, but it is a real healer when you do. I hope that the programme does not put victims off from exposing their abusers and that justice wins the day.

I know that there are people within the BBC who share my concerns. The BBC has the opportunity to put the victim’s side of the story and Expert Link would be happy to support them in doing so.