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What is Independent Advocacy

What is the People’s Conference?

People’s Conference started in 2014 as a response to people telling us that they lacked space to have their voices heard. They were particularly interested in having a say in strategic planning and design of Mental Health Services.

CAPS secured funding to facilitate a conference that would do exactly that! We created an opportunity for people to come together to comment on the current Lothian Mental Health strategy ‘A Sense of Belonging’.

After the success of this first conference, CAPS have continued to facilitate the Lothian Voices group to host a conference every year. Each year it is a topic that is important to people. For example, ‘Dear Doctor’ looked at access to primary care and ‘Swings and Roundabouts’ considered the impact of welfare reform for people with mental health issues.

What makes a house a home?

This year the People’s Conference is looking at ‘What makes a house a home’. We’re thinking about the housing crisis in Lothian and the impact on people with mental health issues.

The group chose this because they had been considering two major reports written this year by Shelter and AdvoCard. Both reports looked at elements of housing. These included cost, availability, access to support, repairs and poor conditions and a general lack of social housing.

Through conversations in the group there were lots of common themes for them around housing and difficulties they have faced.

As usual with our steering group they were keen to focus on what these issues meant for people. And how they were able to live their lives in the best way possible. This led to conversation about is a ‘house’ just four walls? What are the things that are important to people about their ‘home’ and how can services make this better?

Some of the things that the group told us were important to them were

Home should be a stable living space, affordable rent, well insulated, a place for peace and sanctuary

Lothian Voices member

Housing is a right. Not a commodity

Sam, member of Lothian Voices group

One of the great things about the People’s Conference is that the group always throw themselves into the planning, facilitating and writing up what comes out of the day.

It is such a purposeful event in CAPS calendar and always brings such enthusiasm from the group and the people who come along on the day! And more importantly the group always identify an output for the findings of the conference.

This year they intend to write an open letter to the housing minister Paul McLennan. The group recognise that there needs to be more joined up approach between government and local councils. They are excited to add the voice of lived experience to the conversation!

The People's Conference, a house in two halves one half is affordable, comfortable, warm, stable and peaceful, the other half is unaffordable, uhappy, unhealthy, unsafe, cold

The People’s Conference will take place on the 8th November 2023 at Norton Park Conference Centre. Contact Azra or 07436 102 762 to book your place. The event is for people with experience of mental health issues.

Find out more about the People’s Conference this year

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