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Shout-out to the sistah’s for International Women's Day

Saturday, 08 March 2014



Celebrating the sistah's 

BMH UK celebrates International Women's day with a 'shout out' to the sisters doing incredible work locally in the community, nationally and in international arena's that all in one way or another assist in helping the stakeholder groups that BMH UK has been set up to serve.

First featured live on Colourful Radio, London's only black owned radio station, this list of 30 brilliant and beautiful women is in no particular order because every sister listed here is incredible in their own right we give a massive 'shout out' to:





Single handedly changed mental health landscape in the UK 

Joannah_Bennett1. Visiting Professor University of West Indies, Dr Joanna Bennett singlehandedly changed the mental health landscape in the UK with her campaigning for an inquiry into the tragic death of her younger brother David 'Rocky' Bennett, which led to the David Bennett Inquiry report of 2005. Her tireless work brought about this seminal report, which for the first time brought to the nation's attention the systemic inequalities in the treatment and care of black patients who come in contact with mental health services face. She now enjoys a successful academic career in Caribbean.

2. Alicia Spence, services director, ACCI (African Caribbean Community Initiative), the oldest surviving black led community based mental health service in the country. Unashamedly leading by example, Spence has spent her 30 year career working to ensure that those from the community who use the mental health services that she runs are treated with compassion and humanity.

3. Estella Western, director, Family Health Isis, runs London's oldest black led community based mental health services in the Capital. Her 25 year career at this service has ensured the essential community based and often life saving support for one of society's most marginalised groups has been there when needed.

4. Cllr Sandra Samuels, clinician and local politician, who works tirelessly behind the scenes for the health and wellbeing of the community in the West Midlands and beyond. Over the years Cllr Samuels has been a key figure ensuring that the mental health needs of the UK's black communities has not been sidelined.

5. Saundra Glenn, chair of the Luton Independent Advisory Group to Bedforshire police, a fearless advocate for those facing injustice. Her role in supporting the Leon Briggs family and the Justice 4 Leon campaign as well as her work ensuring police accountability for many victims of injustice at the hands of officers on a number of issues, has made her a priceless asset to the community.


Commitment to community concerns

Elizabeth-Pears_Editor_The_Voice6. Elizabeth Pears, editor The Voice Newspaper, is steering Briton's leading black newspaper to new heights. Her commitment to covering community concerns, particularly in the arena that BMH UK work on, of mental health care as it relates to black patients, has seen many of the critical issues relating to this group, take centre stage and make the front page of this weekly publication.

7. Michelle Fullerton, aunt of Jonathan Malia, a physically healthy 23-year-old, who lost his life while in the care of mental health services, just weeks after he was admitted as a voluntary patient in 2013. Her stoical resolve to uncover the truth about what happened to her nephew is an endeavour we all hope will lead to justice for Jonathan and closure for his family.

8. Baroness Jenny Jones, deputy chair of London Assembly's Police and Crime Committee, has used her office and influence to fight against injustice faced by black Londoner's who use mental health services and ensure that attempts to cover up the unethical practices of officers with Taser's and firearms police being called by staff to incidents at psychiatric hospitals is exposed and brought to leaders at the highest levels of the police and central government.

9. Jennette Arnold OBE ME has used her position as London Assembly member and chair of to fight against the injustices faced by the stakeholder groups BMH UK has been set up to serve and has supported this work in many ways behind the scenes.


Remit covering the Diaspora across four contients

Verene_Shepherd_-_professor10. Professor Verene Shepherd Chair of the United Nations Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, has a remit covering the Diaspora across four continents, but her concern over the treatment of the people in the Diaspora living in the UK has meant that she has found the time to support the work of BMH UK both publicly and behind the scenes.

11. June Ray, Chief of Civil Society Section, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, her commitment to empowering civil society agencies to have a voice and influence many of the agenda's in the international human rights arena and her ongoing advice has greatly assisted BMH UK's work in the international human right arena.

12. Finola Kelly, head of parliamentary and public affairs, Equalities and Human Rights Commission, her willingness to share her encyclopedic knowledge of equalities sector has greatly assisted BMH UK in more effectively campaigning to improve the lives of black people who come in contact with mental health services.

13. Dr Michelle Funk Coordinator, Mental Health Policy and Service Development, Mental Health and Substance Abuse, WHO (World Health Organisation). Her support of BMH UK's work through the circulation of our online magazine The Solution across WHO's networks has ensured the issues effecting black Briton in relation to mental health have reach professionals across the globe.

14. Jenny Martin, West Midlands Black Self Organised Group, Unison, an activist who has supported BMH UK's campaigns for change, in a myriad of ways and repeatedly raised key issues concerning human rights concerns of black people detained under the Mental Health Act within her union.

15. Sophie Prichard, The Edge Fund, the driving force behind this ground breaking grant making body working to support independent, grassroots groups that are working for justice and equality. BMH UK membership of this fund has enabled us to build connections with other members who are also working to change the unequal political power and wealth structures for a more just world.


Driving through reform in the treatment of black people in the mental health sector

16. Kedisha Burrell-Brown, three years after the death of her physically healthy brother Kingsley Burrell-Brown, 29, who lost his life after being restrained by police while detained under the Mental Health Act, she continues her fight for justice. Still no closer to getting justice in this case her family and supporters have a planned march for justice in Birmingham, to mark the third anniversary of his death on Saturday 29th March 2014.

17. Matilda MacAttram, director of Black Mental Health UK, continuing the much
Matilda_MacAttram_-_Founder__Director_of_Black_Mental_Health_UK_364X413_needed work to bring about wholesale change in the coercive and often punitive treatment all too often meted out to people from the UK's African Caribbean communities who come in contact with mental health services and the agencies that support them.

She has brought these issue before government and the international human rights community.

Her work around black deaths in custody has led to ministerial responses and ongoing dialogue that it is hoped will bring about the long overdue wholesale reform needed in this sector.

18. Sheila Sylvester mother of 30-year-old Roger Sylvester who died after he was restrained by a squad of eight police officers, after they took him to a psychiatric unit in Haringey in 1999. 15 years after this tragic incident, Sheila along with her family continue fight for justice for their loved one.

19. Rachel Barclay, with firsthand experience of both using psychiatric services as well as and caring for a loved one who has been detained under the Mental Health Act, her social activism in this sector is almost unparalleled. Recognising the critical needs of so many from the community ignored by the statutory sector, she has set up a number of support and advocacy groups for the people from the UKs African Caribbean communities, which have proved to be a life saver for many.


New commitment at senior levels of the NHS to listen to black community's concerns 

20. Marie Walker, Black People's Mental Health Association, faced with an ever increasing demand for black led, community based, culturally sensitive and compassionate services for people from the community who have been forced to use psychiatDr_Geraldine_Strathdee_NHS_Englandric services in East London, Walker and her team, continue to fight to provide a safe space, and support for a vulnerable group in the face of cut backs and the threat of closure.

21. Dr Geraldine Strathdee, National Clinical Director of Mental Health, NHS England. A much needed breath of fresh air in this sector. Dr Strathdee's willingness to listen to the concerns of marginalised groups, which have been previously sidelined at senior levels, accompanied by her commitment to bring about positive change in this area of health care brings a ray of hope to the communities BMH UK has been set up to serve.

22. Yvonne Mosquito Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner, working in a part of the country with some of the best practice in the area of policing and mental health, behind the scenes, Mosquito is an has been an ongoing advocate for vulnerable groups that BMH UK has been set up to serve.


First private individual to take the Crown Prosecution to court and win 

23. Commander Christine Jones, Metropolitan Police's lead for Mental Health & ACPO (Association of Chief Police Officers) lead for mental health. Her work covers critically important issues for Briton's black communities, and she is driving through much needed change in police practice, and the force's working relationship with mental health services. It is hoped this will result an end to the over reliance police for the management of vulnerable people in distress, whether in the community or when detained in hospital the care of statutory mental health services.

Janet-Alder24. Janet Alder has spent the past 16 years, fighting for justice for her brother Christopher Alder, former paratrooper and Falklands Veteran who was decorated for his service in the British Army.

The father-of-two chocked to death while lying face down and hand cuffed on the floor of the custody suite at Hull police station in 1998, while officers chatted amongst themselves and looked on .

Since his death, Janet has campaigned for justice for her brother and is the first private individual to bring a civil litigation case against the Crown Prosecution service over this case. Her relentless fight for justice forced the UK Government to formally issue a landmark apology for her brother's death to her family through the European Court of Human Rights in 2011. Her fight for justice continues.

25. Pam Blake, Maat Probe Group Sheffield, with firsthand experience of the inhumane practice of restraint of vulnerable patients while detained under the Mental Health Act, her work in advocating for humane alternatives and therapeutic care for those in this system is to be commended.

26. Marcia Jarrett leads BME Mental Health and Wellbeing Support Service at the Tamarind specialises in providing support to African, Asian British, Caribbean British, Mixed Race communities in Coventry. This unsung hero continues to fight for often the most basic rights of one of the most marginalised groups in this city.


Giving voice to the unheard experience of black women in the system

Angella_Corinna27. Halima Sayed, Black Women's Forum UK, among a new generation of inspirational young activist and campaigners, her commitment to ensuring that the voice and experience of black women, which has been consistently silenced and sidelined in many campaigning arena's is given is rightful place at the forefront of issues which affect this group.

28. Malia Bouattia, NUS Black Students' Campaign, her fearless commitment to address racial injustices and human rights abuses faced by Britons ethnic minority communities is an inspiration. Bouattia is one of a new generation of leaders ignited with a passion to fight injustice.

30. Angella Corinna, a poet, singer and songwriter, uses her creative ability to articulate the journey to recovery. Through her work she expresses some of the deepest human emotions and experiences which both inspire and inform. Corinna, gives voice to the as yet, unheard experience of more than one generation of black women from the UK's African Caribbean communities, the one group who are continue to subject to detention under the Mental Health Act in the greatest numbers.

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