About us

About us and our activities

People who use mental health services are all too often excluded by society at large, and can suffer twice over-once from the problem itself and over again from the general public’s ignorance and discriminatory attitudes. Mental health services in the UK are under-funded and over-stretched, but the whole topic is frequently not acknowledged or recognised.


LAUNCHPAD works to redress the balance, and offers the chance for anyone who uses mental health services in Newcastle to have their voice heard by the people who run these services. We endeavour to improve mental health services for all, and to promote the views and opinions of service users, all in a friendly , safe environment.

We are all (staff included) people who use mental health services in and around Newcastle upon Tyne, and we work to ensure that the voice of the service user is heard in all the decision-making bodies that affect mental health.

We’re every bit as much a platform to get things to happen as a membership organisation, and will work with and for anyone who’s experienced mental health difficulties. This means that collaboration and co-production (and being user-led and user-run) is at the core of what we do.

This could be in relation to: planning/designing MH services, trying to influence policy, delivering training, signposting & giving information, doing research, setting up, running and assisting peer support groups, networking, campaigning or doing interesting, creative  and artistic endeavours. So that means you could work with or be part of LP alongside any other activities or employment, complementing any involvement with other groups or organisations. In fact we encourage people to be part of other groups because this helps seed cross-over work.

People who use services are ‘experts by experience’, and our knowledge and insight are invaluable for improving the mental health system. There are as many service user points of view as there are service users, so we convey as wide a range of opinions and outlooks as possible. We collaborate widely, and act as a base for national, regional, and sub-regional user & carer networks, like NSUN, the NTWSU&C network, and NEt.

Our longevity (14 years and counting…) and track record for impact, innovation, group work and  doing interesting, engaging things means that we have an ability to influence the powers-that-be, to enable service users’ opinions, ideas and concerns to be heard, whether that be with local government, NHS bodies (Trusts, clinicians, commissioners and the like), the voluntary and community sector, national governmental bodies, policy-makers, and so on.

Above all, though, we are by and for service users, to assist in a whole host of ways, so that people get the right information, get to the right support for them, get heard and feel empowered, plus get to do interesting things in the process. Whatever you want, whatever you need as a service user, we’ll try and help.


Email us at launchpadncl@aol.com

90 thoughts on “About us

  1. would you please forward me information for your creative writing group
    i am currently working with a service user who is very interested.

    1. I am a South Tyneside MH service user, Our local day centre was due to start a Creative Writing Group but it was cancelled because of withdrawing of funding. I am really disappointed as this was the one group I would have attended to introduce me to the day services. Would I be able to join another areas group?

  2. Hi!
    I spoke to someone on Saturday at Newcastle Monument regarding prospective volunteers to help me with my project. I work with younger (16-25 y.o) and older (50+) people; the younger demonstrating to the older, how to use certain technology.This helps to promote a better understanding of each group, dispels the perceptions of each other and break down the barriers. I am trying to set up a peer group (the working title: 1 into 4 DOES go!), the caveat is having to introduce some sort of technology into whatever I undertake!
    I would be grateful if you could contact me at the above email address, at your earliest convenience.

    Enjoy the rest of your day and

    Good Mental Health


    1. Hi Stephen I have only just become aware of Launchpads existence and have a meeting with Alisdair
      this Friday to discuss my recent assessment @ Collingwood Court.
      More to the point I took early retirement after suffering an acute psychotic event Sept 2008
      this from N/Cle Uni where I was a computing systems & informatics technician with over
      25 yrs experience in same + electronics.
      I try to keep up-to-date with Tech now and do repairs to pc’s , phones, tablets & guitars
      plus offer a free appraisal & estimate for the same and have various projects in progress.

      It’s just possible I may be able to lend a hand with some of yours

  3. Hi, I wonder if you could give me some advice! I currently work part-time and after 22 years I would like to change my career and work with families who suffer with mental health problems. I have personal experience of mental health issues as I have suffered for 9 years with postnatal and clinical depression. My depression is under control with medication and although sometimes it has been extremely difficult I have always kept working and looking after my family and at the moment I am a volunteer with Childrens Services dealing with Community Work and Parent Participation. I would like to use my experience to help others but have been shocked over the years by how many people are not interested. I was wondering if you could let me know where you think I could start or who best to speak to.

    Thank you very much for your time.


      1. Hi Alisdair – I am in a similar situation to Michelle Smith, but currently have no clue where to start, to offer my help and experience. Please can you advise?

      2. Sure, Rachael. Just drop us an email or give us a call to arrange to come by to pick our brains.

  4. I’d like to email you to invite you as a guest blogger in our blogring to raise awareness about loneliness (reported in The Lonely Society report). Please send me an email if you’d be interested in finding out more!

  5. I am very interested in coming along to Launchpad.I have problems with depression,anxiety and social anxiety. Do I just turn up? I am particularly interested in your writing group but would also like to know about Blissful & Silver Linings.

  6. I writing this as i tried your other e-mail address. In 2009, i was diagnosed with Border-line personnality dis-order, at clairemount House, by dr Ravi Lingham. I suffer from other mental health issues. I did a sixth month group therapy course thier, and ian and alison, put me forward for Launchpad. I dont know how i am meant too join

    1. I did send an e-mail, in reply to yours Michael, but it bounced back. I’ll try and ring you on the number you sent, or you can ring us:0191 2330382

  7. I’d really like to try joining the Blissful group on a Seturday lunchtime, please would you be able to let me know what the plans are for the next few weeks?
    Thank you very much.

  8. hi do u kniow if dr **** has found a cure for his mental illness i am sure if he did then i also woyuld be cured of this shitty label bpd

  9. Please could you let me know of any groups or services that cater for longterm personality disorders. I am interested in group therapy especially, and finding it difficult to find the right support services.

    Just send us an e-mail, to launchpadncl@aol.com , or ring up on 0191 2330382 and we can discuss what might be available. Sorry I can’t be more specific, but doing it in the comments bit of the website probably isn’t appropriate and also I don’t know enough about where you live or what particular needs you may have. Do get in touch,though!

  10. I work with a father at the moment who has borderline Schizophrenia. I would like to signpost him to support groups to get him actively involved with other people who share his experiences. I would also like to find a support group for his mum who is his carer. Could you point me in the right direction? Thanks

  11. Keep up the good work Launchpad!

    I am a mental health service user from outside the Tyneside area. Over the last 12 years I have from time to time researched issues in the field of healthcare, as I am sure the Primary Care Trust in my area are only too aware. No further comment except that my ongoing recovery and continued survival was helped by invoking my local Care Trust’s complaints procedures. I would advise anyone to seek expert legal advice should they feel they have any kind of complaint.

    There is a juggernaut-load of existing legislation approved and passed through Parliament
    and it is all constantly under review, this process is endless and we are all welcome to suggest changes, or amendments, whether disabled or not.

    Again, I am moved to research legal issues, specifically healthcare legislation. See the list of Acts of Parliament below that I need to read this month. Should I find anything that might help your work at Launchpad I will contact you directly.

    National Health Service Act 1977 and 2006
    The National Health Service (Consequential Provisions) Act 2006
    Mental Health Act 1983 and 2007 amendment
    Mental Capacity Act 2005
    Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and 2005
    Equality Act 2010
    Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001

    Thats all for this month.

    I will encourage some of my friends in Newcastle to take part in your creative writing project.

  12. Getting in touch this way as I am unsure if the contact information on what looks like your old site is still correct…

    I am writing on behalf of Social Spider CIC – we’re a social enterprise which publishes the only national magazine written largely by people with mental health difficulties for them. I am currently conducting some research into what other publications targeted at people with mental health difficulties (or indeed produced by them!) are out there, as we’re always keen to promote awareness of such work. I came across Launchpad’s “On the Grapevine” magazine in the process, but as the latest issue I can find online dates back to 2007 (http://www.newnet.org.uk/launchpad/grapevine.htm), I was wondering if this project is still running or if the magazine is no longer being published?

    I would appreciate it very much if you could let me know either way.

    1. Hi Heike I’m really interested in finding out more about your Social spider publication could you let me know more please and how to obtain a copy -also how to submit work to it etc
      many thanks Susan Law

      1. That particular publication “Nothing Without Us”, was something of a one-off exercise in Citizen Journalism, Susan. Anyone can have as many copies as they like (within reason) until the point where we run out of stock (we’ve about 300 left from a print run of over 3,000). If (and it’s a big “if”) we can secure funding to do so, we’d love to do it again or a follow-up.

  13. Hi could you perhaps email me about the women’s group and the creative writing group. I’m quite keen to see if it is something I could get involved with.

  14. Hi

    I am interested to know how does the partnership work between yourselves and the mental health trust?

    Best wishes Tim

  15. Would you have any sort of directory/books leaflets that i could access regarding information for work training for people with mental health problems and or learning difficulities?

  16. Hi. Could you send me more information about the Creative Writing Group and the Bliss group please? Could I ask how many people are in each group approximately as well?
    I have complex mixed personality disorder (mainly bpd, avoidant and schizotypal) – which leaves me with depressive symptoms. I’d like to meet people with similar struggles. I’ve recently started to write poetry, which I’m finding very comforting. Thanks in advance.

  17. Newcastle University 4th Year Medical students have been rehearsing hard to put on a muscal performance of ‘Sweet Charity’, including the hit ‘Hey Big Spender’ in order to raise money for Launchpad and its Devising Psychosis project.

    We are performing at St. Nicholas’ Hospital in their theatre this weekend!!! Please come along to show your support and raised money for such a worthwhile cause!

    Our performances are;
    Thursday 21st November 7.00pm
    Friday 22nd November 7.00pm
    Saturday 23rd November 2.00pm
    Saturday 23rd November 7.00pm

    Please bring along the whole family and anyone you can find to raise as much money as possible – tickets are £9 for adults, £6 for students. Tickets will be available on the door, or can be purchased online from;


    Thank you!

  18. Hi,

    I’m a service user in Gateshead (with the primary care trust), I wondered if I could get more information about your peer support groups. I’m a bit nervous about things like this, particularly as I’m still fairly new to the north east in general (I’ve recently moved from Lancashire via London).



  19. Hi Alisdair, happy new year ! We spoke on the phone before Christmas and arranged a meeting so we could have a chat about Launchpad and the work you are involved with , however, due to poor health I was unable to attend the appointment which I apologise for, Honest ! However I was still hoping that we could still have a chat and I will be in town on thurs 23th of this month and was wondering whether it would possible to come in at one on that day to speak to you .If it’s not good for you let me know and I’ll try and make another day .
    Thanks Take care Donna-marie Maher

  20. Hi,

    I was made aware of this service after speaking to Stephen today at a Mental Health Awareness group at work.
    I suffer with depression and anxiety myself after a series of unfortunate events throughout my life.
    I would be really interested in volunteering and getting involved with the service to see how I can help others, but more importantly how they can help me.

    I think this is a fantastic opportunity and look forward to speaking to someone about this soon,

  21. hello alistair, i dont use any mental health service’s at the moment but i’ve suffered with depression & anxiety since the late 80’s. I found out about launchpad today & never knew it existed but i’m interested in finding out more. What group’s do launchpad run? Is there an art or craft group going as well please? I cant remember where i heard it, re ian duncan smith wanting people with mental health issue’s, (who claim esa benefit) to be made to seek help. What is your opinion on this? I find it discriminating! I look forward to hearing from you alistair. Many thanks. Flo.

      1. Hello Alisdair I was wondering if theres any voluntary work that may lead to a job in the aria of you domain. I know you are a very busy man and crisis is another avenue but i thought i would run this one by you to see if you have any info on this subject. Yours Sincerely Ashley Philips / Pandora’s Box

        Date: Sat, 26 Jul 2014 21:28:43 +0000
        To: ashleyphilips@outlook.com

      2. Hello again Alisdair This is just a message to ask if theres a good time to drop by to have a chat about a few things concerning voluantary work leading to a job in your aria and of corse im stilllooking forward to doing some stage work for mind in septmberfor you. kind Regards Ashley Philips.

        Date: Tue, 5 Aug 2014 13:09:03 +0000 To: ashleyphilips@outlook.com

  22. Hi Alisdair
    I am working with some people in the Newcastle who would benefit from support with their mental health needs.
    I would like to arrange a meeting with you to find out what support you can offer and how people can access your services.
    I look forward to hearing from you

  23. hi, im currently receieving treatment for PTSD, agoraphobia and anxiety. I am now at a point in my treatment where i am looking for volunteer opportunities to ease myself back into a working environment at the same time as sharing my experiences and helping others in a similar situation. I was wondering if you are looking for volunteers? If not are you aware of any charities or companies that have vacancies for volunteers? I am interested in mentoring and support mostly but i am open to other opportunities also.


      1. Hi there, i posted this sometime ago and didnt receive your reply until recently as i was locked out of my emails. Im still interested if this is still available?
        Hope to hear from you soon.


      2. I hope you are well, I’m just asking if there is any events coming up that could be paid work for Pandora’s box I now plan to start pushing my business shows to organisations that I support and have some understanding of so now I can offer my act as a professional artist with the hope that I can become popular agin in and around the north east.

        Yours sincerely Ashley Philips. Sent from my iPhone


  24. Hi,

    I came across your site whilst looking into volunteering opportunities to complement my studies. I have myself suffered from anxiety and depression in the past and am interested in a career in helping others, and intend to apply to University next year. I am currently studying in my second year of Access to Higher Education Social Sciences Diploma. I would appreciate it if you could get in touch to discuss any opportunities you may have for volunteering in the near future.

    Many thanks, Emma.

      1. Ive been trying to get some experience working as a stage entertainer in and around Newcastle for the last 4 years now with not really much success but I have got my self a platform to work from on Christmas Day and Boxing Day at Crisis and hope that this might get me some air play and advertising. I wish Launchpad all the best for the holidays and your help in the past.

        Ashley Philips.

  25. As someone who has been in secondary mental health services for at least 20 years, but dealt with mental health most of my life, I’d really like to get involved with Launchpad to try to help get mental health recognised and improved across the board, from the NHS, to how the police and justice system deals with people who suffer from long term and general mental health.

  26. I have BPD, it’s destroyed all my hopes and dreams and friendships so far. My GP was so horrible last time that I haven’t been back since December 2013. I contacted Mind but they didn’t seem to be able to provide much help.

  27. Change your doctor!!!!! Straight away, if a doctor is ever nasty to you, they are stackable like anyone in a service!

    Good doctors are hard to find, but there are a lot of very good doctors out there who take a lot of time to help you if they can!

    It’s about finding one that empathises with mental health, most gp’s simply don’t have any experience with mental health, and the truth is it is them who fail in a duty of care, and should feel the shame they don’t make an effort to research mental health!

    But having a voice, is writing to ministers put don’t put a return address on it, and see what can be done!

    Explain that you don’t want a direct response, you want more action to help people with mental health and that you are speaking for yourself and all people with mental health you feel giving your address makes you a single figure, when they’re tens of thousands with mental health!

    Overdose on rise, and attempted suicide and successful suicide is increasing ten fold! & words count for nothing!

    Action is the only solution!

    I feel the police have a lot to answer for when dealing with people with mental health, they are disgracefully unappreciated of what people with mental health suffer with, and that people with mental health are not always responsible for their actions!

    The whole country needs to change! & that change must start with us!! We have to speak out against college’s who have staff who bully people/students with mental health! Or people in a public service who use peoples mental health as a weapon against them, such as colleges, police, and other services! Tolerance comes from understanding and if these people at least don’t understand, then there is no hope! Start with councils, colleges, police and the judicial systems! Start by writing to your MP and telling them of your experience!

    That’s the beginning and then everyone with mental health coming together in one voice, speaking out against maltreatment! & abuse!

  28. Hi there,
    My name is Amy and I’m 21 and I’ve suffered with depression since a very young age. It wasn’t until the end of my first year at University that I started noticing dramatic effects physically and mentally; therefore having heard about this project I would not only love to get involved – particularly with the creative writing classes – but to help spread the word about mental health but about the help there is available for those who need it and I wondering how I would be able to do that?
    With kind regards.

  29. Hi, I was wondering if there were currently any vacancies at launchpad? I am a support worker on a child and adolescent medium secure mental health ward and have a BSc and MSc in Psychology as well as having had personal experience of depression since adolescence. I would love to work for your organisation and would appreciate any information.

    Thank you

    1. Nothing at the moment, Bryony, but do feel free to give us a bell on 0191 2330382, or directly email at launchpadncl@aol.com and then I canlet you know of some things we’re working on that will hopefully bear fruit.

  30. Hi, I live in Newcastle and I’m looking for volunteering opportunities where I can help people who have or are still suffering from poor mental health. I have a Psychology degree and experience with not only suffering from depression and anxiety but also caring for family member with severe mental health problems. Do you have any ongoing projects or opportunities I can get involved in? Many thanks.

  31. Thanks to all who came to Northumbria today to share their thoughts and feelings. It was a great opportunity to discuss issues with you. Best wishes to you all.

    1. I can understand the prejudices and isolation that people can go through and how this can affect mental health, as I too have experienced this lots in my life but now I’m through therapy I’m in a much better position to help other people Who are going through this , so now I’m looking for transgender people to work with on a stage show in the autumn for the Tyneside Cinema its a Andy Warhol night and I looking to create a Lou Reed song walk on the wild side with a dance performance but nothing complicated a simple routine choreographed by me and all I require is your self with a attitude to perform with others to a audience that would apriciate you for who you are.I will help you look amazing and I can help with makeup and costume. This will help any one with who wants to feel better about them selfs and take you a step further to becoming a social butterfly,what do you have to lose give it a try and see how good you feel ! I know I’ve been there.

      Ashley Philips & Pandora’s Box

  32. I thought you might like this poem, written as a bit of light relief (which, oh boy, I needed!), during the time I was actively campaigning on mental health issues and anti-ECT, and part of the continuing journey of settling with myself, damaged goods though I may be, warts and all …

    The ancients said,
    According to a book I read,
    ‘KNOW THYSELF’ (and perhaps some understanding too
    Would be a good idea) – and of course I do –
    I’ve known me for 18,865.13 days,
    Let alone the pre-birth phase,
    I’ve known me as an obedient child,
    Then in adolescence running wild,
    And as an adult, parenting; I’ve known me
    In more than 30 different jobs, as an employee
    And as a boss, then made redundant, unemployed;
    Sometimes a magnetic person, then someone to avoid;
    Either joining in socially, or out of touch;
    Part of a loving couple, or very much
    Alone; full of life, or near death, and grieving;
    Connected to the stars, or hopeless, unbelieving;
    Drunk and sober; inspired, depressed;
    At my worst and very best;
    Being a fool, and wise; in credit and a debtor –
    Yes I know me, and no-one knows me better!
    But I must confess, that although I’ve made a long-term study
    Of human biology, my knowledge is patchy, and my understanding muddy;
    And efforts to record the cycles of my feelings have always lacked
    The certainty to predict my next up or down as a fact;
    And my numerous researches into psychology have yet to make clear
    Where my thoughts come from, and why the next good one should appear;
    And as for my spirit – despite making countless lists
    Of when it’s filled me – I can’t even prove that it exists!
    And scientists have said,
    According to another book I read,
    After centuries of analysis, experiment and observation
    Of all its forms in nature, and used in irrigation,
    That they don’t understand water – its workings are a mystery
    To all of them – as they are to me,
    Yet water, they are all agreeing,
    Is over 70% of a human being,
    By far the greatest part!
    Oh dear, maybe I need to start
    Again, first of all admitting, to tell
    The truth, I don’t know myself very well,
    But this time, I’ve decided, only dying
    Will make me give up trying.

    Oliver Swingler
    January 2000

  33. SOS – I feel so low right now, thoughts of self harm are ever growing and i am not having a good time at the moment!

    I have been mentally and physically assaulted by the police and I have cctv proving they stripped me naked whilst I was enduring an overdose and they ripped at my underwear and threatened me if I didn’t remove my clothes off they would rip them off me! They have kicked me in the face, cctv proving it, punched my spine on another occasion and cctv proving it, kicked my legs and the officer admits it, yet none of then have faced charges, they have fabricated and colluded and conspired to cover it up and I am repeatedly denied justice, they have committed perjury in a court of law and there is CCTV proving they lied, it goes on and on, they used homophobic language towards me saying ” bet you like q big c##k up your a##e and bet you like a good p#king and they also touched my penis in another stop in search in the street outside my home, without justification to stop and search me, they have stoped me 40+ times in a year and a half alone and abused me mentally and physically for seven years, they came to my home for no reason harassing me 14 times in 2014, it goes on and on and yet I can’t seem to get justice or a solicitor to represent me to bring criminal charges against them, I feel isolated and alone and I feel no one cares how this is effecting me!! Is there anyone out there who can help me, if anyone who uses Launchpad is a legal person and can help me, please I am pleading with your humanity, pease help me, I need someone to help me, I am falling apart and just need someone to listen and support me to get justice and help me with legal papers to serve on the police! Can anyone help?

    They have committed crimes against humanity against me, there is no other way to define what they are doing to me on a yearly basis! Please help!!

    My email if anyone can help me who has a legal background is:


    I have no issue about giving my email out, I am desperate, please god send me an angle!! I need some one to find love in their heart and help!! I await desperately for a response!!


  34. Hi,

    I have had issues with mental health, on and off, throughout all of my life. I would like information about any volunteering opportunities you may have.

    Thank you,

  35. Any chance of calendar page being kept up to date? Nothing on it at all.
    Keep getting this message on the page –
    “Recovery College, Launchpad and MH Collective calendar
    Events from one or more calendars could not be shown here because you do not have the permission to view them.”

  36. Hi Alisdair, it’s the start of the shooting season and since I have a grouse [where’s the new Launchpad prospectus?] I googled ‘Newcastle/Launchpad’. Confusingly the display shows the old building/old address, it’s only when you click on the link that you see the correct pix/address etc. No doubt you are looking for the web display writer as we speak
    Regards Anil

    1. The search optimisation or whatever seems to take a while for Google to catch-up, but I think everything on the website has the correct address, Anil.
      And, on the topic of websites (and to deflect slightly from the prospectus question, though it’s out next week, honest guv) here’s a sneak preview of the new one for ReCoCo or the Recovery College Collective: http://www.recoverycoco.com

  37. Mental health organisations and services need people to be trained in every aspects of all mental health issues. I feel that’s a matter of money and bum’s on seats, they are not really interested in their deprivation. Service users try to help with things like events and end up doing a lot of the work, I don’t think there is enough care in reimbursement of their costs. In my experience the staff have been atrocious towards in dealing with service user. If your willing to be lead my the nose and do not challenge their regime then everything is fine. Client users are vulnerable people and situations can cause more harm then good.

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