CAROLYN Little, Support in Mind Scotland’s inspirational chair for the past 14 years, has been awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in recognition of her significant contribution to mental health services.

Carolyn said: “I am really thrilled to have been honoured in this way.  So many people have been part of this, including the service users and carers who shared their experiences to the professionals who have listened and supported all the positive changes in mental health services over the years.”

I am thrilled to have been honoured in this way. So many people have been part of this, including service users and carers

Carolyn, who lives in Dumfries, has given 17 years of her time to improve the lives of families affected by the serious mental illness of others.  She has been a volunteer Director with Support in Mind Scotland for all of that time and became Chair in 2003.

Carolyn – also Manager of User and Carer Involvement (UCI) Dumfries and Galloway and Carer representative on the Scottish Patient Safety Programme for Mental Health - has particularly campaigned for improved involvement and rights for carers and has become a leading figure in the field of forensic mental health carers.

Carolyn received her MBE in the same week she stood down as chair of the organisation, although she will continue to serve as a member on the board.

Frances Simpson, our CEO, presented guest of honour Carolyn with a crystal vase and flowers at our June Members Event at Mabie House, near Dumfries, as staff, fellow board members and service users all paid glowing tribute to her enormous contribution to the organisation over the years.

Carolyn has a wonderful sense of humour, dry and witty; she is caring, understanding and supportive; creative, skilled; and above all someone with integrity

Frances said: “Carolyn has given over 15 years’ service to our organisation, driven by her unshakable belief in the rights of everyone affected by serious mental illness to enjoy better quality of life – and particularly those who found themselves facing the trauma of coping with crisis and restriction and lives limited by inadequate care and treatment.

“Carolyn  has not only given this time to our organisation as our Chair, but has also dedicated her working life to UCI – ensuring that people without a voice are heard; those who are disempowered by an inadequate system can feel valued and listened to and respected.

“The best thing is that Carolyn isn’t leaving us entirely – for which we are very grateful – but simply stepping aside to hand over the Chair to someone else.

“Carolyn has a wonderful sense of humour, dry and witty; she is caring, understanding and supportive; creative, skilled; and above all someone with integrity.”

Carolyn sat on the working group that reviewed the Mental Health Act in 2009 (the McManus Review); chaired and presented at numerous national events including the International Mental Health Conference in Edinburgh; and was also selected to be one of the peer reviewers of the Scottish Government’s Review of Mental Health Services in 2013.

Carolyn spoke at a major conference in 2011 on the needs of forensic carers and in 2012 co-chaired a consultation with the Forensic Network that brought the needs of carers to the attention of the decision-makers in forensic services. 

This led to funding from the Government for a major research report in 2013 and Carolyn chaired the working group. This research report has now led to work with staff across the network to address the issue of carer awareness. 

Support in Mind Scotland secured funding to start the first national support service for forensic carers in the UK – Caring Connections - and also started a national forensic carers forum in 2014 and developed a 12-point action plan for change.