VOX traces its origins back to a conference in Dundee in 2004, when 102 people with lived experience came together from across Scotland. There was a strong sense that whilst there were some opportunities to influence at a local level, there was nothing to bring this together nationally.
A lot of hard work was put in by a number of individuals with lived experience to set up a members-led organisation, with an aim to influence policy and practice at a national level. After developing a strategic plan, funding was secured from the Scottish Government, and VOX was born in December 2006. VOX became a charity and a company limited by guarantee in June 2009.
VOX is a charity of, for, and by people with mental health problems, and we take great care in ensuring we never forget why we were set up in this way: “Nothing about us without us.”
VOX has now grown from just one member of staff to five part-time members of the team. Over the last three years, we have had a range of successes, including:
- Leading a project on Increasing Participation in Civic and Public Life: Co-producing Solutions, to ensure people with lived experience aren’t passive subjects of research – but equal partners!
- Carrying out a thorough consultation on the emotive, and often divisive, subject of compulsory treatment which was added as an appendix to the Mental Health Law Review Phase 1 consultation.
- Co-producing the ‘Empathy and Connection’ film, which has influenced how clinical teams communicate with people who have mental health problems: “I’ve changed what I prioritise now, nothing matters more than truly listening.”
Whilst we are still small fairly small in terms of staff size, we have a strong board of directors, and a huge amount of support and input from our members, who drive each element of VOX Scotland’s work to influence policy and practice.