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Gavin Cartwright

Working to identify challenges and improve mental health outcomes

Gavin Cartwright represents Citizens UK.

Which part of the region do you live in and/or work in?

I live in Northfield, Birmingham and work in Bordesley Green, Birmingham.

Which organisation/sector/network are you representing on the MH Commission?

I represent Citizens UK on the Commission.

How does your role relate to the mental health agenda?

I am the Birmingham Chapter lead on mental health. I am also a UNISON Rep and activist and have campaigned on mental health in Colleges as Chair of UNISON’s National FE and Sixth Form Committee.

What are your particular areas of passion and interest, which you aim to champion through the work of the Commission?

I am particularly passionate about the need to get paid for Counselling Services into Schools and Colleges. This is both to help children and young adults learn how to cope with lower level mental health difficulties and also to help those with larger issues to transition into clinical services. From personal experience, I have witnessed the difficulty on both sides of this through the experiences of two of my children. This also has a positive impact for the staff working in Education as it can be very stressful to see students going through these things with limited ability to help.

My other area of passion is the need to widen access to services for those in many of the Ethnic Minority groups. I am aware that current systems can be very daunting for those groups to engage in and feel there is a need to enable Community groups to be involved in the provisioning side not just the big service providers. It follows a similar logic to the counselling in Schools and Colleges in the idea of taking services to those who need them not requiring them to come to the services.

What particular knowledge, skills & experience are you particularly seeking to ‘bring to the table’ to help to progress the work of the Commission?

I have both personal lived experience and the knowledge that representing people in Citizens UK and UNISON brings. In both Citizens UK and UNISON we regularly talk to our members and we seek to provide solutions led by what people tell us of their real experiences. Often the solutions that are thrown up by that process are actually cost saving in nature because they target things much better.