Archive for February, 2008

Disability Advice Project

February 25, 2008

The Disability Advice Project is a Torfaen based charity that serves the needs of disabled people, their families and carers in our community and surrounding areas of Torfaen, South-East Wales.

The Disability Advice Project covers the surrounding areas of Torfaen such as Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly, Monmouthshire and Newport.

The Project is an independent charity that is a member of DIAL UK and affiliated to SCOPE. This status means we can operate without the expensive and time-consuming bureaucracy of a national charity and yet we are able to utilize their experience and expertise when needed. The Project is run by a group of volunteers who either have the experience of being a disabled person or of caring for a disabled person. This innate knowledge combined with a continuous training programme has created a committed group of individuals with a considerable expertise in all disability issues but particularly welfare rights and access auditing. There is a charge to service providers for our auditing and training service, with all monies being reinvested into the Project to fund our free welfare rights work for individual clients. We are also dependent on donations from our clients and any other individuals, as we do not receive funding from local government.

Since April 1999, we have represented over 300 people at disability benefit tribunals, with only 20% being unsuccessful. We have dealt with up to 250 enquiries in one month. We achieved the Investors in People standard in March 2001 (one of only 3 voluntary organisations in the UK and the first in Wales) and were awarded the Community Legal Service Quality Mark in January 2002. Both awards have subsequently been maintained.

In 2000 the project was awarded a Wales Training Award and in 2005 was the winner of a National Training Award at a UK level.


Heading picture

February 20, 2008

Questions about this heading picture – well, it’s a section from a photo taken at the Rio Carnival this year.  I’ve pixelated it – (well, enlarged it until it shows its basic construction as a graphic is a bit more truthfull) – and I think it makes it more interesting.

Monmouthshire Mental Health Service User and Carer Forum

February 20, 2008
The next meeting of this Forum will be at The Sessions House, 43 Maryport Street, Usk today Wednesday 20th February, 1.30 – 3.45 with a break in the middle.  You are welcome to arrive from 1pm onwards for a hot drink and a chat before the meeting starts.

As the Forum now meets once every two months it is important to take this opportunity to meet with others and talk about developments in our services and other matters.   Also, on this day there will be an opportunity to meet Jennifer Berry, the newly appointed Joint Commissioner for Mental Health in Monmouthshire.   Jennifer Berry has taken over the post recently vacated by Bernard Boniface, and this would be a good time to welcome her and also find out about her hopes for mental health services in our County.  Karen Vowles, Assistant Director, Health and Social Care, GAVO also hopes to come along.  

The Agenda is:    Minutes of the meeting of 28th November 2007 – the last joint meeting of the Forum and Network;

                               Welcome to Jennifer Berry and informal general service discussion;

                               Changes in Welfare Rights Service provision in Monmouthshire –  important as this will affect your current services

                               Planning for Gwent wide anti-stigma and discrimination event – April.

                               Discussion with Independent Police Complaint’s Commission (IPCC) representative with intention of further meeting.

                               Update on developments – Jen Pearce, GAVO MHDO.  

You can see that this meeting needs your attendance and support – please come if you can.  As always, help can be given with transport.  Need more information or support? – please call 01291-673728.

New Page – Readings for Dark Moments

February 17, 2008

Last evening I was looking up some of the tags to our blog when I came across a piece of writing titled ‘The Edge’.   I felt that this article, and others in the same website, could be of help to some of our readers, particularly when things seem to overwhelm.  I e-mailed the writer for permission to use this piece and to make a link to their blog – and received a reply and permission very quickly.  The writer turned out to be author and academic Joely Black, and the following is part of her description of herself – taken from her blog.

Isabel Joely Black is a writer living in the UK. She has been working on Amnar, a fantasy fiction series, for the last four years. Currently, she divides her time between freelance academic writing, podcasting and working on her latest book in the Amnar series. Vivacious, frenetic and talkative, she also enjoys music and running, but doesn’t like having to write descriptions like these. In 2006, she began promoting Amnar and Distant Ground, a semi-autobiographical account of her struggle with anorexia and depression during the 1990s, doing readings at a variety of literary festivals. 2007 was a break year, but this year she is working on a podiobook of Amnar: Book One and discovering the joys of reading her own fiction out loud. She can mostly be found at a Starbucks or a bar in the city centre where she lives.

Over the next few weeks, she is going into the studio to record an audiobook version of her first novel, Amnar: Book One. The blog and Facebook Page will track the progress of the recording all the way from the first production of the scripts to the final release on March 1st, 2008. From then on, the book will be available to download in weekly segments from iTunes and her new website. For more information, check the blog for updates.

Contact information: You can follow Isabel Joely Black’s work and communicate with her through her Facebook Page, or for fans of Amnar, you can join the Group.

You can also access the blog directly through this link:

Thank You Joely for allowing us access to your writings and your blog. and hopefully make use of them to support others. 


Taking control: Healthy Strategies for Living with Depression’

February 16, 2008

Depression Alliance Cymru is launching a new audio book – ‘ 

‘Taking Control’ is a 6 CD audio book that takes a holistic approach to depression to help people start their journey towards recovery. 


‘Taking Control’ was written by people affected by depression for people affected by depression.  It is a comprehensive self-help book that deals with the causes and symptoms of depression, formal and alternative treatments, and a full range of self-help techniques.  ‘Taking Control’ is about people making a conscious decision to change their lives through the development of a personalised self-help programme. 


‘Taking Control’ is available in both English and Welsh (£10 per copy plus p&p).  If you would like more information or to make an order, please contact us on 029 2069 2891 or email 

A copy is being purchased for the Resource Room library at Usk.  

Wallich – Young Person’s Handbook and Useful Contacts

February 16, 2008

The Handbook and Useful Contact list supplied by the Wallich Trust have been placed in the 16 – 21’s ( and a bit older) page of this blog.   Open the page, click on the YPH link – and be a bit patient while it loads as it is a large file!  The Support link is below the handbook link.

Monmouthshire Mental Health Service User and Carer Forum

February 16, 2008

The next meeting of this Forum will be at The Sessions House, 43 Maryport Street, Usk on Wednesday 20th February, 1.30 – 3.45 with a break in the middle.  You are welcome to arrive from 1pm onwards for a hot drink and a chat before the meeting starts.   For details see larger post further down this page.

Mental Health Services in Gwent.

February 15, 2008

The meeting being held on 11th March (see below) is important and was originally requested by the service users and carers in the Monmouthshire Mental Health Forum.   At a Forum meeting held in the Autumn of 2007, during which members held an open discussion with Rhian Lewis, Patient’s Panel Co-ordinator and the Chair of the Panel, seven Forum members volunteered to become panel members in order to represent mental health interests.   Following that meeting this one (11th March) has been arranged and will be attended by senior members of the Gwent NHS Trust.  All mental health carers and service users are strongly encouraged to try to find time to attend.  Places are limited (25) and if you are a carer or service user who has been, or still are receiving services, and who has a view on what needs to be done to improve these services, then you need to attend.  If you pass up this chance then you may well be ‘kicking’ yourself in the months ahead as new changes take place.  Is a member of your family about to move from children’s mental health services to adult services, or an adult member about to move to older adult services – and do you have worries about this?  What do you feel about mixed wards and facilities?  About services for Eating Disorders?   Do you self harm – and how have you been received and treated in A&E?    There are many issues for discussion – go along and have your say.   Phone Rhian for help with transport or anything else that you need, and you can also phone or speak to Jen Pearce or Tony Rigby if you prefer.  01291-673728   What is important is to fill those 25 seats and take the chance to talk with those who make the decisions.           

sometimes you just want to…….

February 15, 2008

cry!   Try as I might I just could not get the format of the timetable in the post below to behave itself.   Sorry, but with patience it is clear enough.  Some days or nights…..! 

Gwent Healthcare NHS Trust

February 15, 2008

Gwent Healthcare NHS Trust wants to hear your views on

‘Mental Health Services in Gwent’ 

f you are a service user, carer or advocate the Patients’ Panel would like you to join them at a special meeting to discuss mental health services.   

Date:               Tuesday 11th March 2008

Time:              10am – 3.15pm

Venue:           YMCA, Mendalgief Road, Newport 

Numbers are limited, so if you would like to book a place, please contact Rhian Lewis, Patients’ Panel Co-ordinator by 4th March:     01633 623812 or 01633 623465Or e-mail to: 

What is the Patients’ Panel?    The Patients Panel is a very active group of about 60 patients, carers and members of the public whose aim is to work with the Trust to improve health services for all patients in Gwent.  There are four main meetings a year and panel members also contribute to many committees and working groups within the Trust and further afield.   In the four years since it was set up, the panel has become a very valued resource for the Trust and has gained a reputation for the positive contribution its members make. 

What is the purpose of this special panel meeting?  This panel meeting has been arranged to provide an opportunity for you to get your voices heard.  Senior members of the Trust will be there to listen and respond to the views expressed.   The Patients’ Panel is also keen to recruit more members who have direct experience of mental health services.  Information will be provided about how to join the panel. 

Format of the day… 

10.00 am       Tea/Coffee 

10.30 am       Welcome & introductions                                                                             

10.40 am       Presentation on the history of Psychiatry in Gwent                                    

11.10 am       What are your burning issues?                                                                         

11.40 am       Tea / Coffee                                                                                                   

12.10 am       Small group discussions (based on the hottest ‘burning issues’)                  

1.15 pm          Lunch                                                                                                                

2.00 pm          Feedback and questions from small groups to staff panel                             

3.00 pm          Closing comments 

3.15 pm          Tea / Coffee 

Please inform us of any support / access requirements that we can assist you with, e.g. ·        Dietary requirements·        Disabled parking·        Assistance in the car park·        Assistance with transport·        Hearing loop·        Information in large font·        Interpreter (please let us know which type)·        Wish to attend with a friend/carer?

Any other support required?