Thursday, 20 March 2008

Stuffing Stigma

I led a successful bid for Lottery funds to continue an anti-stigma campaign I launched last year. It's part of the Rethink/Mind/Mental Health Media 'Moving People' project and will I hope form an innovative, Norwich based link in that bigger 3yr campaign.

As is always the case when it's my initiative that has led to something happening, the process of 'letting go' as others become involved is painful. I'm very good at seeing opportunities and grabbing them. I then become very protective and finally, recognise that actually the project has to become what others feel it should become.

The challenge for me always comes at that point when others can clearly see that what is actually needed is a little less extreme and revolutionary than what I've been advocating. (I exaggerate for effect - always - then become entranced by the opportunity to surprise!).

Chatting with the Chairman of our local Mental Health Trust yesterday, over a milky Starbucks coffee, it became very clear that Stuff Stigma now had to become less maverick and more mainstream. The imminent appointment of a Stuff Stigma Project Manager also suggests that soon it will be time for me to slip from 'activist' to 'mentor' role - stepping back and supporting someone else who will be having all the fun of changing public attitudes to mental ill health.

Perhaps it's my age, but I find I'm becoming much more comfortable with the model I've developed. It works like this:

1. See a gap or opportunity
2. Challenge, provoke, irritate and eventually get something happening
3. Involve those who work in the same 'space' as the project I'm incubating
4. Invite those showing an interest to shape the project and align it with their own
5. Step back and then out, to do it all again somewhere else

As far as Stuff Stigma goes, I'm going to be very involved in some of the outward facing elements of the project. Specifically annual conferences, mass participation events and a book I'm writing about prejudice.

The 2008 conference focuses on empathy and how to do it . . . it's on ay 31st March and you can book your place via

It's free to attend and will be fun - I promise

See you there!