For this last issue of Your Voice we invited readers to share thoughts and memories about mental health in Sheffield and beyond over the past 20 years. Gary McCulloch and Eleni Chambers take us back to 1997 to describe how Your Voice was established as a means of encouraging dialogue and understanding between users, carers and professionals. They describe a collaborative approach that led to the creation of a magazine that has become increasingly user led and independent.
Tim Jones’ interview spans the same period that Your Voice has been in existence and maps the changes that have been made to mental health in Sheffield. Terry Simpson writes about the way grassroots initiatives such as advocacy and peer support have become mainstream or professionalised and Patrick Wood’s article suggests something similar might be happening with co-production.
Last year, a survey of its member groups by the national user/survivor organisation NSUN revealed that more than 200 small, independent mental health user groups had closed in the past few years. Sadly, in this respect Your Voice is part of the national picture. However, 20 years of providing opportunities for people to express themselves on their own terms and in their own words is a remarkable achievement.
Your Voice has benefited from the generosity of people who have given freely of their time to share their experiences, sometimes of their deepest and darkest days, to help others and let them know they are not alone.
I’d like to close by thanking everyone who has supported us. We couldn’t have existed without you.