January 2023
Happy New Year! Welcome to the CAPS Independent Advocacy newsletter! 
New eating disorders service
Are you experiencing an eating disorder? Not sure where to turn?

CAPS has recently launched a new individual advocacy service for people who are experiencing an eating disorder. Individual advocacy workers help people to get the information they need to make their own choices. They can attend appointments with you to make sure you are not dismissed. They would make sure that people take your views and needs seriously. They would ensure that you know your rights. The service is free and confidential and can help both adults and children and young people. Find out more

Much More Than a Label

The Much More Than a Label collective advocacy group is delighted to announce the publication of a new book "BPD Voices". It is written by people who have lived experience of BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) and shares their experiences and views. The booklet is for everyone, including those who may attract a diagnosis of BPD, those who care about them and health professionals. Essential reading! Find it here. 
More information about the Much More Than a Label group and how to get involved is here.
A conversation with Broc

In this conversation we meet Broc, a CAPS volunteer. Broc tells us about his experience as a volunteer and has some advice for those thinking of volunteering with CAPS. He says: "everybody’s really friendly and welcoming. I guess it’s because of the nature of what the organisation does that everybody is very understanding, open and give each other lots of space to convey their own views and feelings." Read Broc's story.

A portrait photo of Broc
What is psychosis?

The Experiences of Psychosis collective advocacy group are working on a group piece of artwork. Responding to the question “What is psychosis?”, the work will be a window into some of the different experiences of psychosis. It will show how varied psychosis is, and how medical definitions cannot possibly encompass such a diverse multitude of experiences. Additionally, the group has delivered the first workshop of 2023 to clinical psychology students from the University of Edinburgh. In response to feedback from a workshop in November, the group have created a word cloud about collective advocacy which is below.

Find out more about Experiences of Psychosis or contact Molly at molly@capsadvocacy.org

Wordcloud: Accountability Platform to be heard Respect Change Overcome stigma Teamwork Stronger voice  Work Focus Identity Encouragement  Purpose Creative work Challenge oppression Liberty Gives insight Representation Goals Group work Participation Balance of power Group work Interactions Powerful Equality Dignity Problem solving
The People's Conference and 'spoon theory'

Every year the Lothian Voices collective advocacy group organises the People's Conference, an event by and for people with experience of mental health issues. This time around the group invited a panel of Scottish organisations to tell us how they were supporting people through the cost of living crisis. Using 'spoon theory' we discussed people's experiences when accessing services. Read more about the conference and spoon theory. Plus some more pics!

Molly and Benjamin at the People's Conference
Panel of speakers at the People's Conference
New Minority Ethnic workshop series
Do you work in mental health services? Want to be more inclusive of people from Minority Ethnic communities? The Minority Ethnic Collective Advocacy group at CAPS is pleased to announce that we will be launching our workshop series: Insights into Minority Ethnic Mental Health in late February.

This is an experience-led workshop series on the challenges faced by us as people from Minority Ethnic communities, living in Scotland, and how this impacts our mental health. In addition we look at how these challenges create barriers when trying to access services outside of our cultural experiences. These workshops are free. To register your interest please email Mohasin at mohasin@capsadvocacy.org
Arts as Advocacy 2023: have your voice heard using the arts
The 11th Out of Sight Out of Mind (OOSOOM) exhibition will take place in October 2023 at Summerhall. Individuals and groups who have experience of mental health issues can submit an artwork in any media. Submission forms and small materials grants will be available by April on the website or by getting in touch.

10 years of OOSOOM: For a look back at last years OOSOOM exhibition, the ten-year online archive and the specially commissioned film visit the website.

Join OOSOOM Planning Group! The exhibition is organised by a Planning Group of people with experience of mental health issues, alongside the Arts as Advocacy Manager. Now is a great time to join the group. You don’t have to have experience of the arts – just your own lived experience of mental health issues and be interested in the exhibition. Get in touch.

Thrive Arts: Part of Thrive Edinburgh’s strategy for mental health and well being, with events organised by local groups, individuals and organisations happening throughout the year.

Get in touch: If you have any questions about anything in the Arts as Advocacy update then get in touch with pam@capsadvocacy.org, phone: 07989402634, or sign up to keep in touch with Arts as Advocacy. 
Annual report published

Thank you to everyone who attended our AGM and helped to make it a really special day. If you missed the event but would like to read about how we are raising people's voices, our annual report is available online here. As part of the AGM we were also bowled over by the recent short film about Out of Sight Out of Mind, Scotland's biggest mental health art exhibition. Watch it here.

What is independent advocacy? 
Independent advocacy is about standing up for and sticking with a person or group and taking their side. It’s about enabling people to have control over their life. It is about offering people support to tell others what they want. It’s not about making decisions for someone. Equally it’s not counselling or befriending. The independence bit is really important. Being independent means that Independent Advocacy organisations only provide advocacy and not any other services. Independent Advocacy workers do not follow the agenda of any other organisation. Find out more.
Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival
This year the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival (SMHAF) is returning to its original October timeslot and will take place from 4th to 22nd October. This year the theme of the festival is Revolution, which was chosen ‘to reflect a desire – in the midst of turbulent political and economic times – to address the impact of economic barriers and social inequality on mental health’. For more information and to keep up to date visit the website
Job vacancy
A unique opportunity has arisen to join CAPS Independent Advocacy in the key role of Personnel and Administration Officer. You will have responsibility for the important functions of Personnel, Health and Safety and IT along with some office administration and finance tasks. 24 hours a week (part time). Salary: £25,027- £27,702 per annum FTE. Starting salary £16,570. Location: Based in CAPS office, Old Stables, Musselburgh. Closing date 23rd January at 12 noon. Find out more and apply.
Welcome to new staff

Benjamin Wold Birmanis: I came to CAPS in October 2022 in my role as Collective Advocacy Worker. I am responsible for the ‘Oor Mad History’ group, where the focus is on community history. Understanding the road travelled by people with mental health issues, both inside and outside the tent of collective advocacy, is essential for fostering a sense of belonging and purpose going forward.

Ellis Kokko: I joined CAPS in October 2022 as the collective advocacy worker for two projects: the Seen But Not Heard group for people with experiences of eating disorders, and the Experiences of Trauma group. I am excited to be working to give people with lived experience a voice in an unequal society. I believe collective advocacy is an important way to challenge power imbalances. My background is in anthropology, research, human rights advocacy and LGBTIQ activism.

Sarah Fox: I am the Individual Advocacy Team Leader and my role is to support the Adult Team at CAPS. I am enjoying supporting individuals to have their voices heard and make their own choices in matters relating to their health and wellbeing. My background is working in the Drug & Alcohol field. I have worked in a variety of different aspects including specialist harm reduction, prison and prescribing. Working for CAPS and providing independent advocacy is an exciting new chapter for me.

Steph Davis: I joined the CAPs team in October 2022 as the Children and Young People’s Team Leader. I am really excited to be a part of CAPS and my role will involve supporting and leading the individual advocacy workers as well as providing advocacy to children and young people who are experiencing the children’s hearing system. Also through our new service which is working with children and young people who are experiencing an eating disorder.

Malin Brash: I joined CAPS in September 2022 as an Individual Advocacy Worker, after finishing my undergraduate degree in Psychology. I’m really excited to be a part of CAPS’ work in extending adult services to include 16- and 17-year-olds in Midlothian and East Lothian. Supporting others in putting their opinions across and having their voices heard is especially meaningful to me.

Very best wishes from all at CAPS!
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CAPS Independent Advocacy is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation Scottish Charity number: SC021772