12th July 2017, words by Cathy Stancer,

The Synergi Collaborative Centre

It felt like quite a moment last week to be announcing the establishment of the Synergi Collaborative Centre and our partnership with Queen Mary, University of London, University of Manchester and Words of Colour. Lankelly Chase has been working in different ways on the issue of ethnic inequality in mental health for more than fifteen years. In the early days this was as a funder of mental wellbeing initiatives in Black and minority ethnic-led community organisations around the country. More recently we’ve started to ask ‘what would it take to create systemic change here?’ We’re hugely excited by the potential of this new initiative and are grateful to all who’ve helped us get to this point.

This work is core to Lankelly Chase’s focus on severe and multiple disadvantage.Whilst our Hard Edges report focused on street homelessness, contact with the criminal justice system (as an offender) and being in substance misuse services, we’re keen to keep testing and challenging a fixed definition.   Ethnic inequality in mental illness is about life experiences, the cumulative impact of episodes of discrimination, the way structural inequality exposes certain people to greater risk of poverty, the behaviour of systems…it’s all there. At the same time, our collective gaze seems often to be averted. This is why we’ve decided to make such a substantial investment here. We believe that it is really important to continue to make visible and mainstream the experiences faced and responses wanted by people from diverse ethnic groups who face severe and multiple disadvantage.

Ethnic inequality in mental illness is such a longstanding and intractable issue, such a seriously wicked problem that we’re not under any illusions about the task ahead. What gives us optimism is the Synergi team’s energy, creativity and unshakable commitment to making sure lived experience narratives are the guiding force of this work.

We look forward to sharing more about the programme as it gets underway and there will be invitations to get involved.

In the meantime, if you have any questions or thoughts please email communications@lankellychase.org.uk


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