Liverpool Association for Mental Health was established in 1972 and established a range of services supported by volunteers. These included two group homes for patients leaving long stay hospitals and a club house.
The charity was heavily involved in both the campaign to amend the Mental Health Act, which culminated in 1983 when the law was changed, and the movement to provide community based alternatives to the large out of town psychiatric hospitals.
By the mid 1980’s a range of accommodation and day care opportunities had been set up by the charity including for people leaving the regional secure unit. The closure of the large hospitals led to a large expansion of services and the organisation pioneered several alternative models of care.
Imagine has a strong track record of working in partnership with Registered Social Landlords (RSL’s) supporting bids to Housing Corporation for the funding of new services. Imagine introduced a new type of service offering people self contained flats with support rather than the then more commonly used shared accommodation. At this time Imagine started to cast its net across other Local Authorities including Sefton and West Lancs providing Outreach services for people with mental health in self contained accommodation. Currently Imagine are the largest provider of accommodation-based mental health in Liverpool and Sefton. The majority of service users have a dual diagnosis of mental health and, for example, substance misuse.
A Befriending service to match volunteers with service users for 1:1 support, and a Chinese Support Service to meet the needs of Liverpool’s large Chinese community followed soon after.
Imagine’s first forensic mental health outreach service was established in 1985. Service users are referred from Scott Clinic Medium secure unit. There is excellent partnership work between Imagine and the local Mental Health Trust practitioners. Several years later a 24 hour accommodation based service was established for men with offending and mental health profiles.
At the turn of the century Imagine was well-placed to expand into Sefton by working in conjunction with RSLs and CHART-a body established to assist with discharge from hospital. In this period four accommodation-based services were established including two bespoke services for young women with a diagnosis of Personality Disorder
In 2008 Imagine secured Department of Health funding to establish two Women Only community based schemes as part of a National Pilot programme. The women supported had a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder with offending profiles and a high level of self harm. The aim of the projects was to move the women out of secure services. These schemes are now fully established and many women have successfully moved on.
At the same time Imagine began to close its day services. The charity developed an alternative socially inclusive model by helping users access local resources thus reducing dependence on ‘building based’ services. In particular we sought out opportunities for employment, education, sport and leisure, faith and volunteering.
In 2004 Imagine secured funding to establish the award winning Mainstream service. This scheme set out to provide socially inclusive day care across Liverpool. In 1984 this service was cited in the Cabinet Office Social Exclusion Unit report as a model of good practice. Further Mainstream services have been established in the London boroughs of Sutton, Merton, Redbridge and Croydon as well as Knowsley and Wigan.
The charity seeks to involve those who use their services in ever level of the organisation. Users sit on the trustee body, are involved in recruitment, auditing, training and contribute via User Forums to developing Imagine. Imagine has developed Peer Support and Peer Mentoring Services offering service users real opportunities to put their experiences of mental ill health at the service of those accessing the charities support. This is an exciting development and the charity hope to be able to open up more opportunities for their users to be involved in delivering services.
In accommodation Imagine has taken the logical step of investing in its own properties in order to help meet need. The charity currently has two new properties housing nine people. In addition Imagine have signed leases with selected private landlords to manage additional properties. This has allowed the charity to offer more secure supported tenancies for service users in need.
A development of the Mainstream service has been the setting up of dedicated employment services based on the Individual Placement and support model. This has led to new schemes in Sefton and Cumbria In 2013. The charity has had considerable success in helping service users back into paid employment.
For thirty years Imagine has been working with people discharged form secure mental health settings who had offending histories. It was an obvious step to work along side people leaving the criminal justice system who had mental health issues. Imagine have established schemes Wigan and Liverpool to support this client group.
A new development in 2015 has been the Uplift project in the London Borough of Sutton. Imagine leads a voluntary sector consortium working in partnership with St Georges SW London Hospital Trust. This is a ‘wellbeing’ service to assist people to be emotionally and physically well.
Visit our Charity Commission listing for further information about Imagine, including financial accounts.