Commissioning and providing mental health advocacy for African and Caribbean men

Examples of different organisational arrangements

African and Caribbean mental health advocacy service

Organisation: Family Health Isis

183-185 Rushey Green, Catford, London SE6 4BD Tel: 020 8695 1955 Email: Web:

Assertive Outreach Team, First Floor Offices, Kings Court, 1 Harton Street, Deptford London SE8 4DD Tel: 020 8692 6006 Email: Web:

Isis is committed to promoting the rights of African and African Caribbean people with mental health challenges by providing a range of culturally specific services to meet their needs. Isis offers a range of community mental health services to African and African-Caribbean people in Lewisham. ISIS also has an assertive\outreach team based in Deptford that offers a wide range of advocacy services to those people who do not access mental health services and are viewed as 'hard to engage'. In all ISIS has 13 staff providing a comprehensive advocacy service. This includes:

  1. visiting the ward at the local psychiatric unit twice a week
  2. dealing with housing issues
  3. dealing with benefits and debt problems
  4. helping with employment and training opportunities
  5. liaising with colleges and children’s services
  6. improving access to appropriate support
  7. providing information about alternative sources of help
  8. accompanying individuals to meetings such as Care Programme Approach (CPA) reviews, police station interviews and ward rounds
  9. providing information to help individuals understand more about services
  10. involvement in policy and service development.

African and Caribbean mental health service providing advocacy

Organisation: Sheffield African Caribbean Mental Health Association

84 Andover Street, Pitsmoor, Sheffield S3 9EH Tel: 0114 272 6393 Web:

SACMHA provides a responsive and culturally sensitive service to people of African and Caribbean heritage between the ages of 18 and 65 who are experiencing mental ill health. It provides a range of services, including supported accommodation, community outreach service, acute advocacy, carers support and a resource centre providing a range of meals and activities.

The advocacy service is targeted at acute wards on two hospital sites and can be accessed by all patients in those settings. The service provided in these settings aims to:

  1. increase the understanding and awareness of advocacy
  2. provide an individual and confidential service
  3. increase access to culturally appropriate provision
  4. promote self advocacy
  5. provide training to staff to support the provision of culturally appropriate services.

African and Caribbean generic advocacy service located in community and cultural centre

Organisation: Nguzo Saba Centre

Christina Cooper, 16-18 Derby Street, Preston PR1 1DT Tel: 01772 883733 Web:

An umbrella organisation and focal point for a range of African and Caribbean groups concerned with social, recreational and cultural events and activities. Operating as a community centre, people can drop in and make use of facilities, including a computer suite, seek advice on social issues such as housing and be signposted to other services. The centre has a networking function and disseminates information on local cultural events and activities that celebrate history and heritage, with particular reference to the African and Caribbean community.

Currently engaged in a primary care trust-funded research project exploring the experiences of African and Caribbean service users in local acute mental health provision.

The centre used to organise a community advocacy service which people could access by dropping in. This was inclusive of people with mental health problems, but was also open to more general health needs. Staff would broker meetings with health professionals to ensure individuals’ needs were better met. But this advocacy has ceased because of lack of funding. Funding is being sought to re-establish this service. While it lasted this was of interest because of its location in the wider centre, visibly demonstrating the importance of linking advocacy provision in a context of active engagement in wider community issues, events and heritage.

Black and minority ethnic community mental health advocacy service

Organisation: Akwaaba Ayeh

40 Chandos Street, Leicester LE2 1BL Tel: 0116 2471525 Web:

Akwaaba Ayeh is a voluntary managed company and is currently funded by Leicester City Council, The National Lottery Community Fund and Rutland, Melton and Harborough Primary Care Trust. It provides mental health advocacy by way of advice, information, representation and general support to people of African, African Caribbean and South Asian origin who may or may not be experiencing mental health difficulties. It also provides support for carers. Advocacy services include advice and information on mental health services, representation at mental health review tribunals, consultation and training on black mental health issues. The service also provides general and specific mental health advice and information on:

  1. access to statutory and community based mental health services
  2. mental health rights and entitlements
  3. access to alternative therapy and services.

There are service user and carer group meetings and the Jambo Support Group (JSG) plays a vital role for Akwaaba Ayeh in providing service user involvement in policy formulation and service delivery.

Black and minority ethnic community mental health service providing advocacy

Organisation: AWETU – All Wales Black & Minority Ethnic Mental Health Group Ltd

120-122 Broadway, Roath, Cardiff CF24 1NJ Tel: 0292 0488002 Email:

Awetu is a charity providing the only specific service to black and minority ethnic communities living in Wales. It provides befriending, outreach, tenancy support and advocacy. Most of the referrals Awetu receives require some degree of advocacy support, many to complete fairly simple tasks such as form filling and visits to hospitals, or other official visits. Advocacy support covers:

  1. mental health rights and entitlements
  2. access to alternative therapy and services
  3. housing
  4. immigration
  5. access to services
  6. visits to psychiatric hospitals
  7. drop-in service
  8. training on BME mental health issues for staff.

Mental health advocacy service that has developed advocacy for African and Caribbean men

Organisation: Advocacy for Mental Health and Dementia (formerly Leeds Mental Health Advocacy Group)

Centenary House, 59 North Street, Leeds LS2 8AY Tel: 0113 247 0449 Email: Web:

Provides independent mental health advocacy to people experiencing mental distress, including dementia, and also aims to enable involvement in the development of appropriate services. There is open referral, aiming to have the majority as self-referrals.

The service has 6.5 whole-time equivalents with two part-time staff providing advocacy specifically for people from BME communities; one advocate is Asian and one African-Caribbean. The service is mainly funded by social services and the primary care trust, usually on a three-year basis. There is a service level agreement describing advocacy services to be provided, quality standards for the service and monitoring arrangements.

The African and African Caribbean advocacy covers:

  1. rights and entitlements under the Mental Health Act and other legislation
  2. abuse and discrimination
  3. social issues
  4. employment and education
  5. mental health treatment
  6. general health
  7. housing
  8. finance.

Generic advocacy service that is accessible to African and Caribbean men

Organisation: Brent Advocacy Concerns

Willesden Centre for Health and Care, Robson Avenue, London, NW10 3SG Tel: 0208 459 1493 Email: Web:

This service provides advocacy for disabled people including mental health service users. The service is provided by five paid workers, including two part-time and 65 volunteers. Funding comes from a variety of sources, including the local authority and a variety of charitable trusts.

The service is well used by African and Caribbean men, who make up 20 per cent of the current advocacy partners. BAC is in the process of recruiting a black and minority ethnic advocacy worker to increase the cultural sensitivity of the service.

BAC has adopted the Advocacy charter and has developed a set of advocacy standards for BME groups.