Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Summer Solstice News

Dear Friends, 

Summer is here, no doubts as we just had the longest day of the year! Hopefully this excessive heat is not affecting you too much, as some find it harder to cope than others. Do keep well hydrated, please. 

Today I am forwarding a list of very interesting and culturally varied events that people might find useful.
Well done and all the best to all involved.

Special highlight...while Ronnie is occupying most of the screen in "Mad to Be Normal" (and giving some hope and satisfaction to all Laingians and anti-psychiatrist types), Londoners next week will have the chance to meet a true Loonies' hero that lived the tales and tragedies that took place at Kingsley Hall in the Sixties. 
Please find below the info about the "Mary Barnes" play

Join us at Kingsley Hall on Tuesday 4 July 4-6 PM for a briefing and mind mapping for the programme for our special day on Saturday 9 September as it is starting to shape up.
We'd like to invite anyone willing to exhibiting their art work in the dedicated show 'Survivors Stories'. We are also looking for stewards, first aiders, crew members with practical experience and initiative and volunteers. On the day there will also be a market place (Saturday 9 September 12-4PM) and stalls will be available for mental health groups and organisations. Please send queries and suggestions to 

Solstice Blessings to all!


HUGE FALL IN DLA TO PIP REASSESSMENTS (from Benefits and Work newsletter
The number of people being summoned to go through their DLA to PIP reassessments has plummeted in recent months. The combined number of PIP new claims and reassessments has plunged from 104,333 in January of this year to 49,409 in April. Most of the fall is due to a huge reduction in DLA to PIP reassessments. The DWP have offered no explanation for the fall, saying only that “reassessment registrations have decreased due to DWP managing capacity within the system.” Anecdotal evidence from our members suggests that waiting times for assessments have risen in recent months. So the reason may simply be that a large backlog has once again built up and the DWP are doing their best to cover up the truth. We’d be very interested to hear from you about how long you waited for your face-to-face assessment.

Thu 22 June 18:45 Post-Election Anxiety by Mental Health Under Capitalism - support and solidarity group 
Common House, Unit 5E Pundersons Gardens Bethnal Green, London E2 9QG
Following the horrific formation of a Tory-DUP alliance, many of us are filled with dread at the thought of further cuts to mental health services, financial instability and fractured communities. This is down, at least partially, to the somewhat uncertain role of the DUP; a party who are pro-Brexit, anti-choice, anti-LGBT rights, climate-change deniers with strong links to loyalist paramilitary groups. Little wonder so many of us are feeling anxious.

Join us at 18:45 for an hourly discussion of the 2017 General Election, followed by our solidarity and support group session. We hope to see you all there.

Mental Health Under Capitalism is a collective of anti-capitalists who are interested in the impact of how capitalism effects our mental health, creating communities of care and support for one another


SECTIONED (1/2h play) 
Saturday June 24th, 11am in The Orchard, White Hart Lane, Basingstoke.
Reading based Rose and Thorn Theatre Company are presenting 'Sectioned' about a gay man who has a breakdown and who is detained by the police under section 136 of the mental health act, the stresses that cause this, how the mental health system react and how things could improve. 
John Hoggett, the author of the play, who is also acting in the play, said, "LGBT people have high rates of mental distress with gay men suffering twice the rate of psychosis as the general population. Services often ignore the causes of people's distress and section 136 assessments have massively increased in recent years due to cuts in budgets to services so all of these things are worth looking at." John Hoggett was also a founder of Speak Out Against Psychiatry which bought survivors of psychiatry together to protest against the injustices they felt they had suffered


Sunday 25th June film screenings from 18.15 
Lords of Sounds and Lesser Things 
Part of the East End Film Festival
The Castle Cinema, First floor, 64-66 Brooksby's Walk Hackney, London E9 6DA
Emerging artist filmmakers Juliet Jacques and Ker Wallwork present their film 'Approach/ Withdraw', which explores the intersection between queer love, sex and gender with biomedical science, alongside a selection of other works that were an influence on it, or form a dialogue with it. Inspired by the Queering Love, Queering Hormones project. This programme will consist of: Marina Grzinic & Aina Smid - Bilokacija Lis Rhodes - Light Reading VALIE EXPORT - Syntagma Katherine Arianello - The Interview (Parts 1 + 2) St├ęphane Marti - Allegoria Eline McGeorge - A World of Our Own Andrea Crespo - Polymorphoses.
Presented in partnership with Tickets can be bought
​ here​

'Mary Barnes' BA Acting Production - UAL: Central Saint Martins
Platform Theatre, 1 Handyside St, Kings Cross, London N1C 4AA
Mon 26 Jun, 7.30pm 
Thu 29 Jun, 2.00pm and 7.30pm 
Fri 30 Jun, 2.00pm 
Sat 1 Jul, 7.30pm 
Ticket Prices: Adults £12 | Concessions £9 | UAL staff / students £6 
Suitable only for people aged 14 years and over


30 June 2017 Time: 7-9 PM Shoreditch Art Wall 17-19 Great Eastern Street, Shoreditch, London EC2
To Celebrate the 2017 World Para Athletics Championships Artist Michelle Baharier and the Artist group Vision with Action for Children, lead by Artist Sarah Hughes have created Murals To Celebrate the 2017 World Para Athletics Championships running 25th June - 23rd July 2017.


​​Thai Boxing Fighters Academy (Service User Led) Annual General Meeting 2016-2017
Monday 10th July 2017 19:00-20:00 at Oxford House Derbyshire Street, Bethnal Green London E2 6HG 
Buffet & Social 20:00-21:00 Guest Speaker: Marion Khalam (TBFA) Special Guest: Alan Green, Vicar St Johns Church. Please confirm attendance at 07769797916​

Interrogating Digital Capitalism: a series of events organised by Breaking the Frame
Event 1: Digital Technology and Neoliberalism – the Basics
July 6th 2017, 7.15pm. Apple Tree pub function room. 45 Mount Pleasant, Clerkenwell, London WC1X 0AE 
How does digital technology function in and shape neoliberal capitalism? Is it just a question of corporations using technology to their advantage or has digital technology fundamentally reshaped the whole system? Are we already, as a key anarchist critique, The Cybernetic Hypothesis suggests, enmeshed in a control system in which conventional resistance just strengthens the system? Ursula Huws (University of Hertfordshire) will describe the nuts and bolts of how digital capitalism works. 
Richard Hall of De Montfort University will look at a critique of digital capitalism developed by French anarchists in the 1990s. Free/donation. 
We apologise that this venue has no wheelchair access. Other events will be at accessible venues. 

Event 2: Digital Technology as Heavy Industrial Technology: iSlavery and Environmental Destruction 
September 6th 2017, 7.15pm. Feminist Library meeting room, 5 Westminster Bridge Road, London SE1 7XW 
Digital technology is often seen as ‘immaterial’ and ‘smart’, defining a new industrial and social paradigm. Yet digital gadgets are produced within an ‘old-fashioned’ highly exploitative regime that has been likened to slavery, whilst the industry creates massive environmental destruction and makes a major contribution to climate change. 
Jack Linchuan Qiu, author of Goodbye iSlave will describe the conditions in Chinese electronics factories, such as Foxconn, which were brought to international attention by a wave of worker suicides in 2010. 
Second speaker (TBC) will look at the environmental impacts of digital technology and its role in causing conflicts. 
Venue is accessible, we would advise wheelchair users to contact us in advance if possible. 

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

June Newsletter

Dear Friends,

I hate to be sharing so many sad news, while thinking of all the people affected by this tragedy in the Grenfell Tower.

Please find here and attached the details for our friend Philip Morgan funeral, taking place tomorrow Thursday 15th June.
Church Service10.30 am: New Testament Church, Lambert Road, Brixton Hill, SW2 5BB
Burial1.30pm: Lambeth Cemetery, Blackshaw Road, SW17 0BY
Reception 4.30pm St. Martins Community Centre, 57 Abbotts Park, SW2 3QX
Family kindly requests all attendees to wear a touch of white.

Another recent sad loss for the disabled campaigning movement in the UK is the recent passing of extraordinary artist Sophie Partridge

With all respect for the sad events mentioned above, changing the subject into a more uplifting theme, the updates about The Loonies Fest. All updates will be shared on our blog

Do come along to our monthly meeting at LARC next Monday the 19th June from 6:30pm to discuss this further if keen to get involved, please. There will also be a brainstorming session on Tuesday the 4th of July at Kingsley Hall between 4-6pm.

Have you seen the new Laing movie yet? Here my review


It's Carer's Week: remembering the millions of people working for free (if not receiving the ridiculous Carer’s Allowance of £62.70 per week for a minimum of 35hrs of work - April 2017-18 quotes). Let's not forget the many children often working for their disabled parents from early age, the spouses, friends and family members.
Many blessings to all the carers, and please do not forget to care for yourself, before caring for others.


This week is also Creativity and Wellbeing Week


Asylum: Action and Reaction Conference Wednesday 28 June 2017 Roscoe Building,University of Manchester, Brunswick Street, Manchester, M13 9PL

The Asylum magazine it's 30 years old!!!  Well done and Congratulations to all involved!


​Please find attached the latest Poetry Express Newsletter #54


Soul relics Museum
Soul Relics is an online platform on storytelling, objects and mental health.It is a gallery of photos of objects and personal stories that are related to a difficult time of your lives (A period of mental ill health); and/or something that helped you work towards recovery. That object can be anything of personal significance, or/and represent institutional barrier to mental health care, etc.​ 

More info:

Mad to Be Normal - A Loonie review

(Post updated on Saturday 24 June 2017)

Simply renamed 'Mad To Be' on our cinema tickets, theR.D. Laing biopic  resulted a very entertaining and inspiring viewing.


Probably one of the best cinema outings that I can remember of, as Dee organised a ride with Myra to reach the North London cinema, giving us time to chat and catch up en route. Later we met a party of North Londoners, included Ben, Laing's youngest son, for a round up of analysis of the movie.

Now, I am certainly NOT a film critic, nor a tiny expert in films whatsoever, so do watch your expectations while reading this review, please. Must also add that being partially deaf, my capacity to follow dialogues in a film with no captions is very limited; hence, while watching a movie I often tend to create my own story, according to what my intuition lets me capture. Having a rough idea of the rough story certainly helped me in following Mad2B. And this was the Laing movie, something somehow very close to those of us that identify as Survivors, mental health activists and the people turned angry by the often outrageous and coercive psychiatry system. 

On top, with Myra and myself being board members of the present and active Kingsley Hall Community Centre (KHCC), and eager mental health activists, it did feel like our flags were flying high. 

The first detail that made me smile as the movie started rolling, was the initial statement affirming that R.D. Laing created Kingsley Hall. To give justice to the Lesters Sisters, I invite people to read a bit in regards, especially those that might have not heard yet about these two awesome ladies, and discover Kingsley Hall's tremendous and fascinating heritage, that actually started over a century ago, even before Ronnie was born. So, not all the people involved in the active Kingsley Hall necessarily have a particular interest in its mental health heritage, as some people might wrongly assume. Kingsley Hall truly is a special place and everyone would benefit to know about its tremendously deep humanitarian rooted hystory.

Portrayed as a heavy smoker and heavy drinker (possibly just like many Scotts of adult age? Awesome Scotts!), Ronnie does certainly demonstrates to be an extraordinary Doctor, sharing his knowledge in natural healing practises, and creating a meditative and contemplative space with his peers and patients.

Many people might have blacklisted and censured the approaches welcomed by the Philadelphia Association in those days, especially for their open use of (illegal!) drugs such as LSD and cannabis, but let's not forget that these were the Sixties! A time of profound  change and liberation, the "Make Love, Not War" infused times, which did set some positive influence to whatever followed.

I like to imagine Ronnie living now, in the New Millennium, when more and more people are opting for a more conscious living, sober partying and avoiding legal (alias prescribed) and illegal drugs alike; specially in a time when the anti e critical psychiatry movements are stronger and big pharma corruptive intentions are more exposed and broadly known by the general public. What a riot would it be! What a driving force for change when many more people are becoming professionals in the field due to their own needs, or the needs of close friends and family, driven by the necessity to find their hope and 'cure' to own distress... like the Only Us Campaign suggests. 
Change keeps making its way, and we have to thank all people that have contribuited in the long history of anti psychiatry and subversion from the real people that fought the fights for our rights (psychiatric patients) as it can be found in Andrew Roberts's Survivors History dedicated archive.

So, thank you Mr Mullan, Cast & Crew for your great work in taking the delicate topic of madness to the large screen, for showing the stupidly of conventional psychiatry and for bringing back some buzzing vibes to a seemingly dormant castle. Thank you also for the choice of the fantastic cast, with David Tennant already my hero in the series 'Takin' Over the Asylum', playing his part terrificly.
Risultati immagini per we are loonies and we are proud

Now I really wish someone will follow suit and show also the story of Mary Barnes, which is barely seen in Mad2B as Maria. Mary Barnes was the actual originator of the idea of having this radical community at Kingsley Hall, the first person to enter the building in 1965 and the last one to leave in 1970.

For the time being we're looking forward to watch the forthcoming BA Acting production MARY BARNES Play at the Platform Theatre, in London, part of the CSM, Drama Centre London. Catch it if you can.
Happening between the 26 June and the 1st of July 2017. 

If you wish to find out more about Kingsley Hall Community Centre do check the website for info and opening times. We are joining Open House on Saturday 16th September if you wish visiting the building.
Also save Saturday 9 September for a special day celebrating madness and lunacy, while questioning normality for the Loonies Fest.

More reviews here:

Thursday, 25 May 2017

PIP CHALLENGE Support needed

Billie Legal Challenge (see below)

The DWP have as good as admitted that mandatory reconsiderations are a sham.

In response to a recent Freedom of Information query, the DWP revealed that they have a target of upholding the original decision in 80% of all mandatory reconsideration requests.
Worse still, they managed to exceed that target in the year to March 2017 by turning down 87.5% of all applications.

The DWP have since claimed that PIP is not included in the 80% target.
However, it remains the case that over 80% of PIP mandatory reconsideration requests also fail to get the decision Changed – however coincidental the DWP might claim that figure is.
Having a target for the percentage of requests that should fail almost certainly renders the mandatory reconsideration process unlawful.

In legal terms, the DWP is fettering the discretion of decision makers, who should be free to decide every case on its merits, rather than worrying about being disciplined if they fail to hit their targets.
Just how rigged mandatory reconsideration decisions are is made absolutely clear by one other statistic.
63% of claimants who have their mandatory reconsideration request turned down and who then go on to appeal to an independent tribunal, win their case.
So, no matter what the decision is on your initial claim, and no matter how utterly you are turned down at the reconsideration stage, don’t lose heart. 
You have a very good chance indeed of winning your appeal.

Billie, a claimant with severe mental health issues, has launched a legal challenge against the recent changes to PIP. The new regulations have made it much harder for people with mental health conditions to get an award of the mobility component.
In January of this year the DWP lost a case before a panel of upper tribunal judges.

Rather than accept defeat, the government rushed through new regulations which came into force in March.
The effect is to make it much harder for claimants with a mental health condition to get an award of the mobility component of PIP.
Billie (not her real name) has severe mental health problems which mean that she is extremely vulnerable when travelling. She needs a lot of support to do this reliably and safely.
Billie was refused an award of the mobility component of PIP under the new regulations.

She has launched her High Court challenge on the basis that the change in the law discriminates against claimants with mental health conditions and also on the grounds that the DWP should have carried out a proper consultation before deciding whether to bring in the changes.
Billie and the Public Law Project are collaborating with human rights barrister Aileen McColgan of Matrix Chambers, who is working on a no-win no-fee basis.

However, £3,000 is still needed to cover court fees and other expenses.
We know the government is desperate to slash the benefits bill.
This time it was claimants with​mental health conditions who were targeted. Next it could be an claimants with an entirely different condition.
Whatever your health condition, everyone has an interest in ensuring that the DWP learns that it can’t just change the PIP regulations whenever it chooses.
At least, not without facing a serious legal backlash.
If you can afford a small donation, Billie’s Crowdjustice page is here

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

May Newsletter

Dear Friends,

May has been an intense month and it is not over yet. It was sad to wake up to the news of yet another 'terror attack' today, whatever the reason behind it, with the loss of more innocent lives. 

We were very pleased with the turn out and participation to the recent events at Kingsley Hall and wish to thank all involved. Thanking warmly Dr Moncrieff, Dr Ruth Cooper and Marion O'Brien for their time and contributions at the RADAR + PIP event on 12th May, we'd like to share some footage kindly collected by ‎Sian Whitehead‎ Also find some stills from the event

The community screening of The Divide also brought together a varied audience and interesting discussions.
Thanks again to everyone that has somehow contribuited in these.

Recently Myra told us about a woman (a Service User) which found our name to be offensive (we are calling OURSELVES Loonies, not certainly offending anyone, are we?) and even refused looking into the content of the leaflet.  

Now, in plan for sometimes, yet still in sketch, I would like to announce a special date: Saturday 9th of September we'll be hosting the Loonies Fest, which will take place at Kingsley Hall. More updates will circulate soon.
Among many things we'll remember the 10th anniversary since the total shutting of St Clements Hospital, which coincides with the origin of us Loonies joining our dissenting forces in a not-hierarchical (someone calls it disorganised, sic!) way and we are still here! Isn't it amazing?  

Hopefully that 'offended' woman will get the chance to change her mind and get some education in regards of mad culture and embrace her lunacy in the process.
We probably have done already our part in these ten years and deserve a bit of respite for the short lives we are mean to live.

For those riding the wave please do check the events listed below.

NSUN annual survey closes 24th May 2017 
Last chance to have your say. Participate in shaping NSUN.
Take the members' survey for the leading independent national mental health organisation.
Comments will remain anonymous. Data will be stored until completion of the annual evaluation work. 
It will take approximately 10 minutes


Horizon: Why Did I Go Mad? 
This past 2nd May, BBC 2 showed Horizon: Why Did I Go Mad? at prime time. The recently released documentary is still available for viewing on i-player for a few days and is also BSL (British Sign Language) accessible. We hope that it will be released on general, unrestricted viewing soon and more examples of madness, successful and/or not to be displayed in the future. Huge congratulations to all involved in the execution of this work, and kudos for the mentioning of a possible drug-free existence


Introduction to User/Survivor Research in Mental Health Mind in Camden 
Trainer: Jayasree Kalathil is a researcher, writer and activist in mental health with over 15 years of experience. 
She runs the virtual collective, Survivor Research
Thursday 1 June 10-4.30 pm @ Conway Hall, 25 red Lion Square, Holborn, London WC1R 4RL 
More information and booking (various prices)


Making Sense of Madness: An emancipatory approach
A one day training led by Jacqui Dillon and Rai Waddingham 
Theme of the training will be voices, visions, paranoia, unusual beliefs and altered states
Fri 7 July 09:45 – 16:30 @ Hackney House, 27 Curtain Road, London EC2A 3LT
More information and booking (various prices)


DSM69 by Dolly Sen’s Manual of Psychiatric Disorder
Dolly Sen is a well known artist and activist working and exploring what it means to experience mental distress and the effects of being labelled with a psychiatric diagnosis. DSM69 is a small booklet, a notice of intent, containing a selection of Dolly’s art and several manifestos. Pre-orders of DSM69 can be purchased from this website:
and from Amazon here:

Also by Dolly Sen 
Please sign and share her petition addressed to the HCPC & Nursing Council 
The Nursing & Midwifery council hold accountability and fairness as their values. They are both regulatory bodies, set up to protect the public. Please withdraw support for Work Capability Assessments


Breaking Convention 2017 The 4th International Conference on Psychedelic Consciousness 
Breaking Convention is a biennial multidisciplinary conference on psychedelic consciousness, featuring more than 150 presenters from around the world, happening between June 30 - July 2, 2017
University of Greenwich, Old Royal Naval College, London   
For more information, visit


Antiuniversity Now is a collaborative experiment to challenge institutionalised education, access to learning and the mechanism of knowledge creation and distribution. 
Initiated in 2015, Antiuniversity Now was set up to reignite the 1968 Antiuniversity of London with the intention to challenge academic and class hierarchy and the exclusivity. A rich and varied programme can be found on

Some recommendations among a long list of interesting events on various themes:

-Politicising Anxiety: From Precarity to Care

Anxiety is everywhere at the moment, but too often it is seen strictly as a condition of the individual. This event will be a talk and workshop on politicising anxiety; on framing it as a social phenomenon. Anxiety takes different forms and we see these multiple anxieties as weapons of the ruling class, as the result of a crisis of reproduction and a condition of capitalism itself. One response to this, we suggest, is collectivised care.
Sat 10 June 1-4 pm @ 7 The White Building, Queen's Yard, White Post Ln, London E9 5EN

-Speak Out Against Psychiatry 6th birthday Speak Out & picnic
Six years ago SOAP (Speak Out Against Psychiatry) held their first Speak Out in front of the Royal College of Psychiatry (then based in Belgrave Square) followed by a picnic in Hyde Park. The event will be repeated to celebrate the 6 years of fighting an inhumane psychiatric system. There will be plenty of posters to read and people to have a one-to-one with and the chance to try the 'diagnostic wheel' which is just as reliable as the DSM 5! 
Sunday 11 June. Meet 2-5 pm for Speak Out @ Speakers Corner (nearest tube Marble Arch) then move to park for picnic after (weather permitting)

-Psycho-coercion & Psycho-resistance
An event to explore and build resistance to the increasing use of psychology to coerce and compel us through moral mantras like the 'work cure' and the use of psychometric tests, mood monitoring and mindfulness. Featuring talk and discussion from academics and activists working to question psycho-coercion. As well as a screening of Harry Giles' Everything I bought and how it made me feel. 
Mon 12 June 6-8 pm @ Red Gallery, 1-3 Rivington Street, London EC2A 3DT

-Using Art in Mental Health Activism
If you are brutalised or abused by the mental health system and want to challenge and resist that, what can you do without it being pathologised as part of your condition? Join Dolly Sen for two hours of reflection on the relationship between art and mental health activism.
Monday 12 June, 7-9 pm @ Dragon Cafe, The Crypt at St George The Martyr Church, Borough High St, London SE1 1JA