Bristol Survivors’ Network
Bristol Survivors Network is a group of people who have lived experience of mental health difficulties. We gather and share information about what is going on in mental health services and campaign to improve things. We also:
- discuss mental health issues
- hold social meetings
- comment about documents and reports
- send representatives to mental health meetings
In the early 1980’s Survivors Speak Out, was a national Organisation based in London for Mental Health Service Users. (It has since folded.) 5 people from Bristol joined this group and together met to set up Bristol Survivors Network. This had the main aim of allowing people to talk about mental health issues and share information, and sending representatives to meetings, conferences and training. Two of these original members are still with BSN today.
Today the organisation has developed to include all those with lived experience of mental health (not necessarily having had treatment) and its role has more of a focus on campaigning to improve mental health services and provide a voice for Service Users. For the last few years we have been running on a generous donation from Avon Coalition of Disabled People. This means that we are completely independent, and not beholden to those who provide mental health services for funding.
Since the 1980s BSN has had a great deal of involvement in campaigning to get crisis houses in Bristol. In 1996 we ran a conference on Crisis Care in Mental Health in 2006 were involved with the consultation day ‘A Crisis House for Bristol’ at which Missing Link presented their plan to run a Women’s Crisis House. This was set up a few years later and was followed by the Men’s Crisis House run by St Mungo’s.
In 2006 we got funding to reprint the Survivors Speak Out Crisis Card and started to promote its use in Bristol. This was accompanied by promoting Advance Directives a version of which remains on our website so that people can write down their own wishes in case of a crisis.
A quote from one of our members:
- “I value BSN for its total independence and its historic place in Bristol as a forum and information gathering group. Its members also have a great record in influencing local services. I hugely value the newsletters and information BSN gives me “
In October 2017, we were part of a consortium which organised Peer Fest, a festival celebrating user groups. We have members who have done Hospital visits under the guidance of either HealthWatch or Bristol Independent Mental Health Network.. We have also attended many meetings to do with mental health. These matters get discussed at our meetings as well as other issues which come up. We invite guests to speak on relent subjects every few months at our business meetings.
Pauline Markovits (retiring Information Officer) March 2019.
For more information about Bristol Survivors Network, download our leaflet.
Our monthly Social
Our social meetings are perhaps the best place to find out about our group and for you to talk about your own concerns, or just have cuppa and a chat. See the Meetings page for our current programme. We always respect confidentiality. We do not offer a counselling or crisis service.
We have also produced a crisis support leaflet with helplines and websites which you can download here.