Support in Mind Scotland's successful Hearing Voices service, which provides support to people experiencing psychosis, is set for a major expansion after generous funding was secured from a variety of sources including The Robertson Trust.

Hearing Voices has long been recognised as a vital mental health support service in Fife, and while it will continue to grow its presence in the region, it will now also gradually expand into the Angus, Perth & Kinross areas.

SiMS were delighted to receive £51,000 funding from the Robertson Trust towards the new three-year plan for Hearing Voices, as well as £25,000 from Perth & Kinross Council, an £8,000 donation from the founders of the Stop and Talk counselling service when it ceased operating earlier this year, and more than £3,000 from colleagues of Digby Brown's Kirkcaldy office who have been fundraising for our Fife Services as their chosen charity of the year.

This generous combination of funding has allowed us to recruit two new support workers, and they will be working hard to build on the success of the project, much of the credit which lies with Jean Daisley - our previous Hearing Voices outreach support worker - who has recently taken her well-earned retirement after years of loyal service.

The funding is part of a phased expansion of our Hearing Voices services, amounting to more than £100,000 over three years, and while we have secured a significant portion of that funding we will continue to seek further support to consolidate the project.

Area Manager Steve Uruqhart said: "SiMS is delighted that we have been able to expand our Hearing Voices service both within Fife and now across into Perth & Kinross and Angus. We have recruited excellent staff to take this service forward and will continue to focus on personal support that people find helpful.

"While our year one costs have been met by Digby Brown and Ms Hillman’s generous donations for Fife we are still looking for some additional funding for years 2 and 3 - so if you find a fiver down the back of your sofa it will always find a home at SiMS Tayside and Fife Services.” 

Hearing Voices is an outreach service delivering one to one support, group sessions and telephone support to people experiencing psychosis. For people who experience voices and other sensory disturbances, we hold regular peer support meetings in Glenrothes and Dunfermline. We also offer a one to one service Fife-wide. Our local members' publications group, along with local psychiatrists and psychologists have compiled a collection of information pamphlets.

In the past year Fife Hearing Voices has supported over 30 people practically to reduce poverty and sustain them in their local communities. Support included Housing issues, Benefit and Money Advice from SiMS' Mental Health and Money Advice Service and advice and support with DLA, ESA and PIP applications. This support is essential for many in this group given that the nature of their enduring and chronic mental health conditions.

The service is underpinned by a behavioural approach to the management of sensory disturbances and delivered within a model of peer support, enabling individuals to shape their personal recovery. The existing service has close links with NHS Fife and has developed a number of strong community partnerships.

As an organisation SiMS puts evidence arising from lived experience at the centre of everything we do and that includes experience arising from the people who access our services as well as from other studies, research, wider engagement and from sharing good practice and expertise with other providers and stakeholders.

Jason's experience of Hearing Voices...

"My name is Jason and I have complex mental and physical health issues. I first made contact with Fife Hearing Voices Network about seven years ago. At that time I was struggling with hearing voices which made it difficult to concentrate and sleep. I spent a lot of time listening to them trying to figure out what it meant.

I was scared and thought I would never get back in to work due to my mental health and struggling with my finances. Initially I did 1:1 work to help me understand the whole experience and the links to past life events, separating things out and accepting this was my ‘new normal’. The HV booklets are excellent – informative and reassuring that you can learn how to live with voices.

After a while I joined a group as I also felt really isolated and lonely (I still can if truth be known). The group made me feel very welcome and listening to other peoples’ stories and ideas of how to manage my voice hearing experience was ‘transforming’. From time to time, FHV organise lunch outings which we all really enjoy. It’s an opportunity to put our strategies in to practice, as being in a restaurant with all the noise can be challenging, but we support one another and always have a laugh.

“The Hearing Voices booklets are excellent – informative and reassuring that you can learn how to live with voices

Over this period, I received support from Support in Mind Scotland's Mental Health and Money Advice Service to sort out my debts and help me during the transition from benefits in to the work place. Sorting out my finances reduced my anxiety which quietened down my voices as stress is a big trigger.

Through time and with support I was ready to apply for jobs and enter the workplace, and I now work full time. I have a supportive employer and can work from home if needs be and I work flexible hours so I can still come along to the Hearing Voices Group for top ups and company. My own experiences mean I can contribute and encourage others at different stages on their journey.

It's not all plain sailing and I’ve had ups and downs and a hospital admission – even then SIM in maintained contact and supported me in adjusting on discharge. FHVN has really made a difference to my life and I’m hopeful that this funding will mean that more people will be able to receive support."

  • If you want to find our more about SiMS Hearing Voices service please contact Lynda Sloan (Service Manager) Tel: 01592 268388 or Email: [email protected]

Main picture: Victorien Ameline