SUPPORT in Mind Scotland's chief executive Frances Simpson has hailed the success of the charity's 2015 Members Event, held in the Royal Scots club in Edinburgh on Friday, 30 October.

She said: "We are delighted at how many people attended our members’ event and we had a really enjoyable day with a great mix of topics." 

An exciting and stimulating agenda included a talk on a Fairer Scotland by Karen Armstrong (main picture) Social Justice Engagement and Strategy Officer with the Scottish Government. Karen had hot-footed it to Edinburgh from Stornaway, as the Scottish Government continues a nationwide series of conversations and events that are bringing together people from across the country to discuss what practical steps we need to take to create a fairer Scotland.

"Karen Amstrong's address on a Fairer Scotland really touched my heart" - member Dane Thomson

The target of the far-reaching consultation is by 2030 to make Scotland a place where people are healthier, happier and treated with respect, and where opportunities, wealth and power are spread more equally. Karen gave a passionate talk on the subject and many of her comments struck a chord with the audience.

Support in Mind Scotland member Dane Thomson has blogged on the talk and said:  "Karen’s address really touched my heart for a couple of reasons, but most notably her genuine enthusiasm for helping people in need and for using all her resources to make a difference.

"She began telling us about mentoring, and about her mentor- straight away I envisaged this CEO type figure mentoring her through the mechanical aspects of her job, but, no! Her mentor is someone who is long term unemployed and has felt the bitter bite of the DWP’s degrading tactics, such as benefit sanctioning.

"She told us that she learns so much from her mentor, and I just think it speaks volumes and puts my faith back in the Scottish Government that they’re listening to real people who have real experience of this issue." You can read Dane's full blog on the Members Event by clicking here.

Following Karen's presentation, lively round-the-table group discussions took place about a Fairer Scotland, giving members the opportunity to have their say on many aspects of the consultation, particulalry mental health provision. Comments were recorded and will be collated by Support in Mind Scotland's Policy Officer Scott Aitken.

Another highlight on the day was the screening of You Cannot See, the inspiring and powerful short film which has been made by the drama group of Support in Mind Scotland's Life Skills project in Dumfries.

You Cannot See focuses on the difficulties people with mental ill health have experienced when undergoing employment and benefits assessments, and many of the participants were present on Friday, along with film's producer John Scott - who is Life Skills Project Co-ordinator. After a brief question and answer session with John, the group received a rousing ovation from fellow members.

The film premiered before a full house in the Robert Burns Centre in Dumfries recently, and since then has generated an enormous amount of positive feedback since it was shared on Support in Mind Scotland's YouTube channel. If you have not already seen it you can view by clicking here. You can also watch some of the out-takes from the film here.

The event earlier heard an update from Frances Simpson on Support in Mind Scotland's recent work, while Susan Duncan (Finance Manager) presented the accounts and outlined the organisation's financial position.

There was also news of our 1 IN 100 Fundraising and Awareness campaign from Colin Leslie (Fundraising and Communications Manager) and Iain Mitchell (Fundraising and Campaigns Officer), while the meeting was chaired on the day by Support in Mind Scotland director Carol Gortmans.

Reflecting on the successful event at the Royal Scots club (above), Frances Simpson said: "The film made by our Dumfries and Galloway members reminded us how important it is to give people the right support at the right time and was very much appreciated by everyone there. 

"Our afternoon speaker, Karen Armstrong introduced the Government’s consultation on A Fairer Scotland with a warm personal touch that impressed on us how important it was for us to participate and have our voices heard.

"A huge thank you to all the staff who organised the event so well, and supported our members from across the country to attend; to our Directors who always give so much of themselves to our organisation and to the people who took the time to come and be part of the day with us."

  •  Members from the Stafford Centre pose at the end of the successful 2015 Members Event.