Voices Unlocked & Women’s Voices Unlocked

banner-voices-unlockedVoices Unlocked & Women’s Voices Unlocked are Mind in Camden’s Hearing Voices: prisons, secure units & Immigration Removal Centres (IRCs) projects.

Back in 2010, Mind in Camden were awarded funding to develop a ground-breaking and innovative network of Hearing Voices peer support groups in prisons and forensic secure units across Greater London. This network, the first of its kind, now includes Hearing Voices groups at HMP Pentonville, HMP Wormwood Scrubs, HMP Wandsworth, Springfield University Hospital’s Forensic Services and Wolfson House, among others.

Since 2014, we have been extending our support to prisons and secure units across the Home Counties, the Midlands and North East England. To date, we’ve launched Hearing Voices peer support groups in 8 men’s prisons and 8 mixed-gender secure units, and this number is growing year on year. We have also extended our support to Immigration Removal Centres, and have launched the first Hearing Voices group in an IRC at Harmondsworth in Hillingdon.

Voices Unlocked has trained over one thousand prison and secure unit staff and worked with numerous partners. We offer a variety of free training courses, from our popular Understanding & Supporting People in Prison who Hear Voices and Hearing Voices Group Facilitation trainings, to more specialist courses such as Supporting Young Offenders who Hear Voices. We also offer bespoke in-house training. To find out more, please email us.

Since the beginning of the project, we have supported more than one thousand people to talk about their experiences, make sense of them and support one another in safe, non-judgemental spaces. Many group members have told us that they hadn’t shared their experiences with anyone prior to attending a Hearing Voices group. Groups provide support, connection and hope for the thousands of people who hear voices, see visions or have other ‘unusual’ sensory experiences or beliefs in prisons and secure units.

To find out more about the project, please see www.voicesunlocked.com, or watch our video:

Women’s Voices Unlocked

In April 2017 we were awarded funding to pioneer a new three-year project supporting women in prisons, forensic secure units and Immigration Removal Centres who hear voices, see visions or have other ‘unusual’ sensory experiences or beliefs.

25% of women in prison hear voices. The majority of these women link their voices to trauma, abuse, domestic violence, poverty and other forms of adversity, and many use self-harm or substances as a means of coping with their histories and experiences.

Women’s Voices Unlocked will offer bespoke support for women to share and to explore their experiences in safe, facilitated spaces, with the aim of reducing stigma, isolation and social exclusion. The project will empower women to develop effective coping strategies, improving their confidence and quality of life, and will support them to understand their experiences within their own frames of reference.

In addition to establishing a network of Women’s Hearing Voices Groups in prisons, on female in-patient wards within secure units and within IRCs, Women’s Voices Unlocked will devise and deliver an innovative programme of workshops for women in secure environments, on subjects including complex trauma and dissociation, making sense of voices and visions and understanding paranoia and ‘unusual’ beliefs.

We will deliver a range of training courses to staff, including Women’s Hearing Voices Group Facilitation, and Understanding & Supporting Women who Hear Voices, as well as specialist in-house courses.

For project updates, please see www.voicesunlocked.com.

Voices Unlocked & Women’s Voices Unlocked: Project Aims 

To establish a trained, supported and sustainable network of Hearing Voices Groups in prisons, secure units and Immigration Removal Centres which is well linked to the Hearing Voices Network in order to:

  • Empower people in prisons, secure units and IRCs to take control of their voice-hearing experience and to learn ways of understanding and coping with them
  • Reduce the distress, fear and stigma experienced by voice-hearers within prisons, secure units and IRCs
  • Ensure that those involved in the project are connected to the Hearing Voices Network, preferably with the contact details of a specific group, on leaving a prison/secure unit

Voices Unlocked & Women’s Voices Unlocked: Project Objectives 

Developing and supporting self-help groups for people in prisons, secure units and Immigration Removal Centres who hear voices, see visions or have other ‘unusual’ sensory experiences by learning how to:

  • Stimulate interest and commitment from prisons, secure units, IRCs and voluntary agencies that work within them throughout the UK
  • Work alongside these organisations to set up well-facilitated Hearing Voices peer support groups
  • Train and support those already working in prisons, secure units and IRCs as group facilitators (including regular peer support meetings, 1:1 support and a buddying scheme)
  • Collate examples of good practice and distribute them in the form of guidelines, articles, training and a ‘how to’ guide for group facilitators
  • Develop and deliver an innovative programme of bespoke workshops for people in prisons who hear voices, see visions or have other ‘unusual’ sensory experiences/beliefs and mental distress

From 2017 – 2020, Voices Unlocked will be funded by the City Bridges Trust, The Tudor Trust and The Bromley Trust, and Women’s Voices Unlocked will be funded by the Sir Halley Stewart Trust.

Our work within Immigration Removal Centres is funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, and forms a part of our broader Refugees and Asylum Seekers project.

For more information, please contact:

Jessica Pons
Voices Unlocked Development Worker
jpons@mindincamden.org.uk

Eve Mundy
Women’s Voices Unlocked Development Worker
emundy@mindincamden.org.uk