Tuesday 6 November 2012

We are thrilled to announce that we have been awarded just under £10K by the Big Lottery Fund to upgrade our very elderly IT equipment!

The upgrade will support the delivery of more training, as well as saving on hire fees for kit that we do not currently have. Having efficient, working IT will also increase productivity and save us a lot of time. 

The upgrade will also enhance our use of new technologies for using social media in getting the Grassroots message out. We will be able to produce our own video training content and improve our communication on a local, regional, national and increasingly international level.

The Big Lottery Fund is the largest distributor of National Lottery good cause funding across the UK. The Fund aims to enable others to make real improvements to communities and the lives of people most in need.

Thursday 6 September 2012

Hello and Welcome
My name is Caitlyn Timmings and I had the pleasure of being a member of the truly remarkable Grassroots Training team during the summer of 2011. When I was back to visit this past July, Chris Brown and Miranda Frost (Co-Directors of Grassroots Training) asked me if I’d be interested in writing a blog entry for World Suicide Prevention Day. I said I’d be honoured to and I am. That being said, I’d like to begin with acknowledging that today is the 10th Annual World Suicide Prevention Day! While suicide is often thought of as being a “risk” only known to specific populations, the reality is that suicidal thought and/or completed suicide affects everyone. Perhaps you have personally experienced a loss to suicide, or you may know of loved ones who have, or you may struggle with suicidal thoughts. Perhaps you’re interested in increasing your awareness around suicide generally. Regardless of what brought you to read this post today, we receive your attention warmly and hope this post will leave you with feelings of hope and knowledge that protective factors do exist to mitigate the risks of suicide no matter how intangible they may sometimes feel.
I came by boat from Canada (okay, by plane, but “boat” intrigued you right?) to gain exposure to, and experience with, the health and social care system in the UK. At the time, I was finishing up my Master’s degree in Public Health and was eager to learn more about the programs and services available in the UK in the areas of mental health and substance use. A few weeks after arriving in sunny Brighton, I was contacted by Chris. She asked if I’d be interested in coming for an interview to which I happily accepted. The two most memorable things about this interview were that Miranda and Chris’ passion for suicide prevention and awareness was contagious and that I immediately wanted to learn more. When I was offered a spot on the team, I knew I was in for an incredible summer of learning, growing and experiencing. And I was right.
First Day at Grassroots Training: Met the Team and Geraldine
Being new to Brighton, the journey to the Grassroots Training office on the 1A Whitehawk bus was also new. When I arrived, I was welcomed by warm and smiling faces (the Grassroots Training team) and a giraffe in the window (Geraldine). I was told about the array of training courses offered by the organization, including the two-day ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) course, which I would later attend. The ASIST training curriculum was championed in Canada, which made me feel proud as a Canadian, but also a little perplexed that I had not heard of it before now. I started to wonder who else did not know about these valuable resources that are available to professionals and community members alike and glad that there were organizations right there in the community, like Grassroots Training, to deliver them.
ASIST Training
The two-day comprehensive ASIST training course was of particular significance during my internship with Grassroots Training. The experience is hard to put into words, but surmise it to say that you begin training as a bunch of strangers who want to learn more about suicide prevention and intervention and leave feeling like a connected group who can make a difference. To learn more about the ASIST training course or other trainings offered by Grassroots Training, click here: http://www.grassrootstraining.org.uk/grassroots_training_suicide_prevention_courses.asp
Protective Factors
When I think about protective factors, I think about the power that lies in being loved, being supported and feeling that you are worthy to receive both. Research argues that the fact that completed suicide is a relatively rare event, a range of protective factors must act to mitigate the effects of exposure to risk factors.
As was so eloquently conveyed by the International Association of Suicide Prevention (2012), protective factors occur at the individual, interpersonal, communal and systems levels:
“Among the psychological factors, resilience (the ability to cope with adverse life events and adjust to them), a sense of personal self-worth and self-confidence, effective coping and problem-solving skills, and adaptive help-seeking behaviour are often considered to be protective against the development of suicidal behaviours. Social and cultural factors such as religious and social integration, social connectedness and maintenance of good relationships with friends, colleagues and neighbours, access to support from relevant others and ready access to health care are associated with a reduced risk of suicide and reduced repetition of attempted suicide. In addition, a healthy lifestyle, with maintenance of good diet and sleep habits, regular physical activity, abstinence from smoking and illicit drug use, is also associated with a reduced risk of suicidal behaviour.”
In addition to what the research shows, protective factors can be very individualized. When I think about this, I am struck by how well this personal conception of resiliency is portrayed in the 2011 video developed by Grassroots Training called I am Alive. To view this video, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ELRY_4yYimk
And the Now
It’s really hard to summarize my incredible experience at Grassroots Training in a single blog post. But I can say that I now notice ASIST certification stickers, the language used around suicide, the stigma that still exists and the resources that are so valuable in continuing to raise awareness around this very important issue. It makes me proud to have been a part of an organization that I know is so dedicated to making Brighton a suicide safer community and a leader in making suicide prevention a priority on the health and social care agenda. So on this day of World Suicide Prevention, I’d like to applaud you, Grassroots Training, for all of your past, present and future efforts!

Wednesday 8 August 2012

Dear friends,

Grassroots Training warmly invites you to attend an event to mark World Suicide Prevention Day, and to launch ‘Suicide Safer Brighton,’ a collaborative campaign to designate Brighton & Hove as a suicide safer community.

The event will take place at 19.00 on 10th September 2012 at the Latest Music Bar, Manchester Street, Brighton BN2 1TF.

We are honoured to confirm the following guest speakers:

·         Kate Bornstein from the USA (author of ‘Hello Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks and Other Outlaws’) via Skype
·         Roy Henry Vickers (Canadian First Nations artist and community activist) via Skype
·         Sinead O’Connor (Irish singer-songwriter) via Skype
·         Kevin Betts (Brighton’s very own 52 Marathon Man)

The theme of World Suicide Prevention Day this year is ‘Protective Factors and Instilling Hope’ www.iasp.info/wspd/ You are invited to bring a photo or an object that instills hope in you, to contribute to a photography project.

The whole event will be streamed live online: you can watch it all at www.grassrootstraining.org.uk 

You can RSVP at our Facebook page:


We hope to see you there!

Chris Brown, Co-Director 

Wednesday 30 May 2012

Stress Management, Happiness & The Taboo of Mental Health at Work
- Guest post by Mark Walsh of Integration Training

There are lots of way of talking about people being unhappy and suffering from mental health issues at work...except sometimes there isn’t. I work in the field of leadership, resilience and stress management training and it has become obvious to me that many organisations have a problem talking about vital staff welfare issues.

Stress Management Taboos
“Stress” is a relatively acceptable corporate word for suffering. The concept takes an integral psycho-social-cultural-organisational issue and makes it an individual matter. Someone is not overworked with an abusive manager in a horrible place, they are stressed and need to manage their stress, for example. On the positive side the idea of “stress management” (which was not in common usage until relatively recently) can allow people in the workplace to talk about mental distress in a relatively safe “scientific” way. There are still many organisations however where it is still taboo to discuss stress. Often people are trying to be something more than human, Superman or Wonder-woman perhaps, but end up creating an environment where people feel less than human. Denying stress exists doesn’t stop it destroying happiness, relationships and productivity. There are also organisations where “stress” has become a byword for other taboos - such as someone hating or being bad at their job, being bullied or working under unhealthy conditions of one kind or another.

Happiness Taboos
The common notion that we work for money not to be happy is odd and more than a little sick in my opinion. Why should this be the case? Well, the narrative that “you just have to work, so put up with...XYZ” is one that has been reinforced by people who do not care about employees’ happiness. Happiness itself has become something of a taboo 9-5 where it is considered largely irrelevant. Happily (excuse the pun), the positive psychology and conscious business movements have put happiness back on the agenda, showing how it is vital for productivity and creativity as well as the obvious ethical concern. This has led to a lean towards “happiness at work” and resilience trainings rather than stress management in recent years. Interestingly I have noticed that more men will sign up for a resilience training course (or even “mental toughness” course) than for stress management.

Mental Health Taboos
I am one of the teachers on the course 1 in 4 at Grassroots Training. This is the proportion of people who will suffer from a mental health problem in the UK in any one year, so mental health issues are far from rare! The most common ones are anxiety and depression, and addiction issues are also widespread if we class that as one too. Despite this mental health is still a massive taboo in most workplaces. If you break your arm or catch a virus and need time off work there would be no shame for most people, yet it is common to deny, hide and feel shame about mental health issues. Sadly, people that have mental health problems are often portrayed in the media as dangerous, pitiable or comical and these stereotypes are alive in many workplaces. In mental health awareness workshops when I describe how I once suffered from depression, substance misuse issues and PTSD, people often seem surprised that someone now extremely healthy and with a good business and relationship can have had this history. The taboos that exist around mental health issues at work are extremely damaging as may mean individuals are discriminated against illegally, bullied on top of their difficulties or do not seek appropriate support.  

Positive Steps
Here are some positive steps workplaces can take to reduce stigma in regard to these issues at work:

-  Acknowledge that such issues exist and start discussion and debate
-  Make the law on these issues widely known
-  Invest in mental health awareness and resilience and stress management training. Of course I’m biased and I do this work because I believe in it too.
-  Have someone responsible for these areas 
-  If you have had such issues and feel safe to, talk openly about them. It only takes one or two people to break a taboo and establish a new norm

Mark Walsh - Trainer Bio http://integrationtraining.co.uk
Mark Walsh leads business training providers Integration Training - based in Brighton, London and Birmingham UK and the Netherlands. Specialising in working with emotions, the body and spirituality at work they help organisations get more done without going insane (time and stress management training), coordinate action more effectively (team building and communication training) and help leaders build impact, influence and presence (management training). Clients include Unilever, the Sierra Leonian Army and the University of Sussex. He is the most followed trainer on Twitter and YouTube and has the Google no.2 ranked management training blog. Offline, Mark dances, meditates and practices martial arts. His ambition is to help make it OK to be a human being at work.  

Wednesday 11 April 2012

Don’t dread the cuts, cut the dreads!

In a few weeks, Kerry Dowding will be cutting off all her dreads to raise funds for Grassroots Training.  We got to know Kerry through her internship with us last year, and she is now the Secretary of our (registration pending) Board of Trustees.  Kerry says:

"I'm doing it because I want to support the teaching of mental health awareness and suicide intervention skills to anyone who wants to learn them, to help save and improve lives in our community. Please give generously if you support the great work Grassroots do to help us to keep each other safe."

If you'd like to make a one-off payment to Grassroots (sponsor a dread, if you will!), or set up a small standing order to Grassroots, then you can find out more and make a quick PayPal or card payment here:


Watch this space for updates about the shearing!