Esther McVey is an advisor for The Samaritans

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lankou

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You could not make this up:-

https://www.samaritans.org/about-us/our-organisation/structure-and-governance/our-trustees/our-advisory-board

Samaritans’ Advisory Board provides us with informal support, helping us increase our potential to influence and fundraise.

It played a key role in the launch of our 116 123 free to call number, removing any barrier to contacting us in terms of cost, by helping us to build relationships with telecoms companies and funders.

The Advisory Board has no legal or governance role in Samaritans and elects its own Chair and members. Neither the Chair or any members are paid.

The current Chair is Mr David McDonough OBE and its current members are:
Mr Philip Buscombe
Mr Jeremy Courtenay-Stamp
The Rt Hon Sir Edward Garnier QC
The Rt Hon Lord Grade CBE
Mr David McDonough OBE
Mrs Kedge Martin
Ms Esther McVey MP
Mr Bill Muirhead
Mr Geoffrey Munn OBE
Mrs Felicity Varah Harding
The Rt Hon The Baroness Wheatcroft

JLR2

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I doubt very much McVey spends any serious time giving advice more likely she uses her connection with the Samaritans to get an idea as to how many benefit claimants call them for help when they are feeling suicidal. What's that old saying, 'keep your friends close, your enemies closer'.

SteveX

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Wow, you can't make it up can you.

I've been emailing them the past 3-4 days, first time I've ever done it but I felt I needed to talk to someone before doing something stupid, they were very nice. however if i'd known that evil, callous bitch was involved with them, I wouldn't have bothered.
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lankou

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Wow, you can't make it up can you.

I've been emailing them the past 3-4 days, first time I've ever done it but I felt I needed to talk to someone before doing something stupid, they were very nice. however if i'd known that evil, callous bitch was involved with them, I wouldn't have bothered.

I have already emailed the Samaritans to tell them I can't support them anymore.

Sunny Clouds

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The Sams are struggling in many places now, for at least two reasons.

One is the increase in callers.  This could be attributed to an increase in conditions such as depression (being no fan of Austerity, I attribute it partly to that, but in this context it doesn't matter whether I'm right).  It could also be attributed to cuts in mental health services and to changes in the nature of mental health services (given that, for example, not everyone agrees with the emphasis on vaguely-defined CBT over other therapies).

Another is the problems they've had ever since they've increased the situations in which they've said staff could or should pass on information to third parties.  They've lost a lot of volunteers who have always considered that confidentiality is at the heart of the service.  If you will, it's a bit like suddenly telling priests to break the seal of confession. 

I speak to the Sams, though less again now, but I find I rarely get through to a specific branch now.  It used to be that if you dialled a specific branch number, that's where you spoke to, but not now.   This matters to me partly because I like to rotate which branch I call and partly because I get a different sort of response from people from different parts of the country, because the culture is different.  I also find things like gender and age and social class can make a difference.  A sure warning sign for me is if I get part way through what I'm saying and the young, mostly female voice at the other end wails "Yes, but how do you feeeeeeel?"

I always say that I find it easier to say what I feel about not what I feel about it, but I'm not phoning for advice on whatever's worrying me, I'm just trying to slow myself down.  Depending on how they respond, I may also explain that I'm multilingual and will be calmer if I can talk with someone because English is a 'thinking' more than 'emoting' language for me, and one in which I can also do more 'laugh at myself and pull myself together' stuff in. 
(I'm an obsessive problem-solver, so feel free to ignore any suggestions or solutions I offer, even if they sound terribly insistent.)

Fiz

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I've only phoned them twice and didn't find those calls helpful however I've texted them hundreds of times and often find the text service to be really helpful and calming.

It can only be to the good that Esther thingamebob is involved higher up. My hope would be that the impact of the benefit changes are massively impacting people's mental health is fed back to her. I suspect that was the reason the sams wanted her on board.

lankou

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It can only be to the good that Esther thingamebob is involved higher up. My hope would be that the impact of the benefit changes are massively impacting people's mental health is fed back to her. I suspect that was the reason the sams wanted her on board.

Sorry but judging by the furore about it elsewhere on the internet, Esther McVey having ANYTHING to do with the Samaritans is putting many thousands of people off using the Samaritans.
I have emailed Samaritans to tell them they no longer have my support.

Fiz

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I would hope that those that are suicidal and feel hopeless and worthless would reach out to them. If there is a drop in numbers contacting them then people emailing and texting will receive replies much sooner and will receive better help. Really they don't have enough volunteers to deal with calls, emails and texts. When I'm at my lowest points all I think about is my deep inner pain, how my life isn't worth living, the physical pain I'm in, how much I hate myself, how I've been such a failure - politicians are the last thing on my mind

lankou

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Sunny Clouds

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I'm prepared to believe that Esther McVey may have at some point not taken on board what the government's changes were doing to disabled people, but any excuse she had for not knowing is long gone.

Indeed, to compare with IDS, whereas i'm one of the few people that thinks that IDS actually thought UC would really improve people's lives (although he probably wanted to do so for his benefit not theirs),  and I don't know whether McVey ever had any positive intents, I think that what they have in common is that (1) they failed to do their homework properly before taking action, causing untold misery by what's gone wrong as well as by what may or may not have been intended; (2) they either failed to monitor the situation and take action or monitored it and failed to take action; and (3) they failed to take any responsibility for their actions.

This is happening at the same time as Jeremy Hunt is making a song and dance about his backing for the Zero Suicide campaign.  Why do anything to improve people's lives, to reduce their pain and suffering, physical and mental, when you can simply say how we must stop suicide?  Indeed there's something I see in common between both these things, McVey's involvement in the Samaritans and Hunt's involvement in the Zero Suicide campaign: victim blaming.  Because on one level, one could describe what the Sams do in many, many instances is to provide a service that is one where the ordinary person seeks help desperately that they should be offered and provided elsewhere.

But then I say that as someone who repeatedly phoned the Sams from inside a psychiatric hospital.

Still, whether McVey should or shouldn't have any role in relation to the Sams, at least the furore about this is highlighting what the reforms she's variously supporting and/or introducing are doing to people.  I just wish more media outlets would make the story a seriously prominent one.
(I'm an obsessive problem-solver, so feel free to ignore any suggestions or solutions I offer, even if they sound terribly insistent.)

Fiz

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I texted the sams constantly when I was detained, they were very supportive and understanding. Far more than the staff on the ward.

It's a shame that some people won't use sams just because she's on a list of advisory bodies but I believe in personal autonomy and they have every right to make that decision. However, I will be using self care as and when needed for the sake of my wellbeing. Self care and self compassion is something I badly need to work on so it's a much needed step for me.

Sunny Clouds

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 >bighugs<

I'm not decrying self-care.  I'm glad you're working on it: I could do with getting better at it.  What I'm decrying is self-care where it's an incomplete and/or inadequate substitute for properly funded health and social care, for proper social inclusion and equality.

May I use a basic analogy?  A few years back, I left work after a breakdown and I'd been working part time and getting housing benefit.  That all stopped suddenly and although I signed on for income support and incapacity benefit, nothing came through.  I later discovered that the 'excuse' was that the form I'd used hadn't been stamped by the DHSS on the day it was issued, notwithstanding that it was one of a pile of unstamped forms they'd supplied the hospital with.  (I'd spent a few days in hospital when I first made the claim.)

It took a couple of months for the benefits to come through.  My landlord was understanding on rent because he'd gained by my carrying out renovations on the house.  But I didn't have much in the way of savings in those days.  The CMHT's attitude was that  my income was nothing to do with them.  They never mentioned that there was a CAB adviser attached to the trust or even thought to mention advice centres at all.  To some people, not knowing that such places exist may seem odd, but I didn't know.

So whilst losing weight for want of enough food, scrounging food off friends and neighbours (including food for my pets),  I trekked to the CMHT and back at ridiculously frequent intervals.  So I could go and be lectured for half an hour or an hour about how inadequate I was, whilst my belly rumbled.  As I got hungrier, the walk to the centre took longer.   An hour or more each way.  In theory, I could claim the cost of travel, but again the mental health trust played silly wotsits over that.  And meanwhile, I only found out about DLA from one of my former clients from my days as a lawyer who found out what was going on and told me to apply. 

In those days, the Sams didn't have a freephone number, but if they had, whilst they'd have helped with the distress, it wouldn't have addressed the underlying issue of hunger, i.e. one of the main causes of the distress.

The Sams are great.  What's not great is for them to link up with people who are two-faced, pretending to care for people, saying they want fewer suicides whilst increasing the pressures that are leading to more suicides.  Are we hearing the Sams speaking out on the causes of suicide?  Don't you think that  if there were a statistical correlation between, say, suicide and failing to claim compensation from employers, or suicide and owning/not owning pets, or suicide and not eating 'enough' of a particular type of food, or whatever, i.e. not a 'political' thing, they'd be speaking out on it?  But they're already restricted as to what they can say if the government can try to argue it may be party political and there's an election, and then having Esther McVey on this committee is effectively making a public statement.

So when I talk about things like self-care, what I'm talking about is that same thing whereby the economy's not doing very well and more and more of the work is in the form of zero hours contracts or in the gig economy, but the government says wow, there are more jobs (which there are if you spread the work more thinly) and then if people can't get work, labels them as scroungers or whatever and starts co-locating psychologists with job centres.  So you can wait a year, a year and a half maybe for a 6 or 10 week course of vaguely defined CBT on the NHS or you can have some through the jobcentre specifically geared up towards the fact that if you're not in work, you couldn't be genuinely trying to work or seriously distressed or whatever, you just need your attitudes changing.

It's that aspect I'm addressing. 
(I'm an obsessive problem-solver, so feel free to ignore any suggestions or solutions I offer, even if they sound terribly insistent.)

KizzyKazaer

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So you can wait a year, a year and a half maybe for a 6 or 10 week course of vaguely defined CBT on the NHS or you can have some through the jobcentre specifically geared up towards the fact that if you're not in work, you couldn't be genuinely trying to work or seriously distressed or whatever, you just need your attitudes changing.
This seems to me to be at the heart of the current insecurity around benefits for disabled people.  Years ago, it was 'acceptable' in the eyes of the then DSS to receive Incapacity Benefit long-term -  can recall in 2006/07 attending the one medical I've had in my whole claimant history and the doctor there signing me off until further notice, but there's none of that now.  It's all, 'oh, with the right nudging, everybody will be able to do some job or other, and it's just so good for their mental health'.  Knickers.

Going back to the Samaritans and Esther McVey, I just hope the Sams won't be influenced by her presence to the extent that they compromise their core beliefs and start going down the 'work is what you need and all you need' road.  Enough of that already!

Sunny Clouds

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I'm minded of a discussion I've had with various others.  Basket weaving.  What am I on about?  Well what does basket weaving make you think of?  Asylums?   It's the classic.  However, what did basket weaving actually involve?  I want to outline the positives (as then not now):-

1. Making something of commercial value, something real not token.
2. Making something that you can do physically and therefore talk and be soothing, analogous to knitting or various other crafts.
3. Making something with a potential for creative artistry (my school cookery basket had lovely patterns woven into it.)

Basket weaving is just seen as a joke now, but it wasn't then.  It was an example of a therapy that was multi-faceted, that let 'mad' people do what they could and not what they couldn't.  Obviously there were problems, but I daresay most of us with examples of modern psychiatric hospitals and outpatient clinics etc. could tell stories of mind-numbingly pointless occupational therapy.

(I'm an obsessive problem-solver, so feel free to ignore any suggestions or solutions I offer, even if they sound terribly insistent.)

KizzyKazaer

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Yeah, I remember basket-weaving (and not just baskets; stools and chairs too) at the Victorian-style psych hospital I had the pleasure to spend most of 1983 and some of 1984 in!  It was looked upon as very much a 'female' activity - the chaps were given 'work' at the 'blockhouse', not sure exactly what they did but I think it might have involved breaking up stones (sounds rather like prison..)

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It was an example of a therapy that was multi-faceted, that let 'mad' people do what they could and not what they couldn't.

Looking back on it - though never partook of that particular therapy myself - I think you have a point there!