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Their Untold Stories

by Edited by Ntombenhle Protasia and Khoti Torkington
£19.99   paperback  Other Publications (2009)

Their Untold Stories by Edited by Ntombenhle Protasia and Khoti Torkington This book tells the history of two projects set up by Granby Community Mental Health Group in the 1980s to provide services for black people with mental health needs: Mary Seacole House and the Advocacy Project.

"Not only has this objective been achieved but also the services of these two organisations are open to all community members who walk through the doors. It is this diversity of both staff and members that creates the unique atmosphere that members appreciate. ... Given the fact that discrimination and prejudice have often been part of the complex experiences which have contributed too many people's mental health problems, it is crucially important that Mary Seacole House positively welcomes and supports every one of its members regardless of their colour, age, gender, religion and sexuality. The important point to make here is that services that effectively meet the needs of the most disadvantaged groups end up generally meeting the needs of all users of those services in the community. ... People who go to Mary Seacole House ... don't want to be called 'service users' ... they want to be referred to as members of Mary Seacole House. ... Mary Seacole House is a warm, homely environment to which they come to meet friends and colleagues with whom they can share their experiences, learn new skills and regain their confidence and self worth... Members can get involved or not be involved in activities. If they want to sit around chatting and drinking tea, this they can do without anyone insisiting they must do otherwise. This kind of freedom is not only relaxing but also therapeutic."
(from the conclusion)
It explains the need for these projects and how they were set up. It also describes the work of the projects and (from the introduction) the book provides: "an opportunity for members to tell their stories in whatever way they choose.Some people have reflected on events and experiences which they feel have been influential in their lives. Some tell their stories through poetry and others find art the best medium to express themselves. Whichever the format, each story is related as perceived and understood by the particular person as an individual, reflecting on the past, present and looking forward to the future. For those who have reflected on their life experiences, these are based on interviews structured around a range of specific questions. Every effort has been made to present here a faithful account of their experience as it was told by the person at the time." Common experiences in many of the life stories are racism, sexual abuse and childhoods spent in care.
"Any service which tries to help and support people who have undergone such experiences must address these dimentions."
(from the conclusion)
"Reading this book took me back 20 years to my experiences of the vibrant, early days I remember of black people organising through community development.
 
The period it covers represents an important episode on the narrative of black people's history in Britain. The personal narratives are an important part of that history; and they are to be found in abundance in this text.
 
Those of us for whom this is still relatively recent and real history, owe a debt of gratitude to Pro and to all involved for capturing part of the rich tapestry of black people's history in Britain and for sharing their stories."

ISBN 13: 9780946057900 | ISBN 10: 0946057907