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BIG AGM – Chair’s Report

Bury Involvement Group (BIG) in Mental Health

Annual General Meeting – 4th July 2017

Report from the Chair

Bury Involvement Group (BIG) in Mental Health is a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) which provides a broad range of accessible and responsive user led support services for individuals experiencing mental health conditions. BIG was entered on the register of charities on 18th April 2016, charity number 1166584.

The object of BIG as a CIO is: “To protect and promote good health among people experiencing mental health conditions living in Bury and the surrounding area, in particular but not exclusively by the provision of  groups providing support, education, information and advice.”

BIG is run entirely by volunteers most of whom have experienced mental health issues. Our volunteers are passionate about making a positive difference to the lives of others. BIG educates people about mental health in a non-judgemental and supportive way, whilst improving knowledge and understanding. BIG also provides opportunities for people to make friends, share experiences and gain mutual support.

BIG sessions are held in safe, welcoming environments in four different venues in the local community. Throughout the year we have run 5 regular groups: Anxiety; Recovery; Dual Recovery; Drop-in and Social. In total we have provided 226 group sessions and we have had 3738 attendances at these. Sessions have become increasingly popular; attendance last year in total was 3110.

Service users can drop in and out of the sessions when it suits their individual needs as there is no commitment required; BIG has an open door policy.

BIG has continued to raise awareness through outreach work with other organisations, giving presentations, sharing personal stories of recovery and through holding events in the community in order to reduce stigma.


We have requested a donation of £1 to attend each session but if people could not afford it we didn’t turn anybody away. The contributions at sessions has amounted to £2,624 in total. Thank you to all our service users for this.

The support at sessions has been provided by our volunteers to whom we are so grateful as BIG would not exist without them.

Anxiety Group

The Anxiety Group has continued to function as an open support group with a  topic focus for the first half of each session. The group has remained popular despite the withdrawal of support from Healthy Minds, demonstrating the value of peer support. At the Anxiety Group, topics covered have included: The Fight or Flight Response; Rumination; Self-Esteem; Social Anxiety; Unhelpful Thinking Styles; Safety Behaviours; Catastrophising; Avoidance; All or Nothing Thinking; Forms of Twisted Thinking; Perfectionism and Coping Strategies.

Recovery Group

Talks have been given by Psychologist, Dr Karin Bacha on topics including: Personality Types; Searching for Understanding; Self Respect; Trauma; Power; Self Compassion; Coping Strategies and Trust. Anxiety Specialist, Matthew Coleclough has provided regular sessions on anxiety. Consultant Psychiatrists Dr Sadiq, Dr Fernando, Dr Thomas, Dr Nadeem and Dr Mustafa gave talks on : Social Media, Self-Harm; Loss; Abuse; PTSD; Confidence Building,; Self Help; Mood Disorders; Suicide; Coping with Criticism; How to Improve Yourself and  Medication. We have also had talks by staff from: the Home Treatment Team; Recovery Academy; the Health and Wellbeing College, Big White Wall and Bury Adult Learning. Our service users have also shared their personal stories and how they manage their mental health conditions.

Dual Recovery Group

We have run the group as an open support group and at times included topics for discussion including: Relapse Prevention; Relationships in Recovery; Coping with Physical Pain;  Coping with Emotional Upset; Cycle of Change;  Managing Anger; Structure and Routine; Attending/Avoiding Social Events; Fun in Recovery; Support from Professionals; Worry and Fear.

Drop – in

We have continued to encourage newcomers to attend the Drop-in so that they have the opportunity to speak to volunteers on a one to one basis about our services and the format of our various groups. The group has grown in size dramatically which highlights the need for a friendly and open space for service users to access in order to gain support and build friendships. An increasing number of professionals have attended the Drop-in with service users and a mental health nurse from the Irwell Unit continues to bring along inpatients from the psychiatric wards as a means to introduce them to BIG as part of their ongoing recovery in preparation for when they are discharged.


A range of activities have taken place at the Social. These are timetabled on a weekly basis and have included: creative writing; reading; music; board games; quizzes; bingo; arts and crafts; karaoke; guided meditation and computers for beginners. Volunteers at the Social have taken it in turns to take the lead in delivering the sessions. Service users have always been encouraged to take part in all activities but some have preferred to just relax and chat.



BIG has carried out various awareness raising events in the local community during the year including:

Events at Asda, Bury

Recovery Event at One Recovery Bury

Community Fun Day at the Old Court House, Bury

Mental Health Awareness Week Event

World Mental Health Day Event

Meet the Provider Networking Event

Launch of ‘Women’s Day’ at One Recovery Bury


Talks / Presentations

Staff at the Irwell Unit, Fairfield Hospital

Veterans Group, Mosses Centre

Brookshaw Centre

Pennine Care Governors

Tottington Women’s Guild

Creative Living Centre

Elms Farm Sheltered Housing

Richmond Fellowship

Presentation at Adult Care Connect and Direct

Greenmount Scouts

Bury Adult Learning, Community Mental Health Project Team

Attic Project

Self Help Services

Talks to GMP at Sedgley Park Police Training College

Talks to Junior Doctors at the Irwell Unit

Irwell Unit coffee mornings

Liaison Work

BIG has continued to represent service users at the Acute Care Forum and the CCG Patient Cabinet.

An Agency Awareness Form is available on the BIG website so that people can provide feedback about services and agencies in the Bury area.

We truly believe that the way forward is joined up working for the benefit of those experiencing mental health conditions.

We have continued to provide up to date information about services and organisations for service users and have signposted people to assist them in their recovery. For example we have signposted to : Healthy Minds; CAB; PRAXIS; Calico; The Attic Project; One Recovery Bury; Creative Living Centre; Mood Swings;  PALS; Healthwatch; Bury Adult Learning; Rethink Carers; WHAG; Victim Support; Supportive Stem and many other organisations.

We have continued to communicate with a wider audience through our website and Facebook page. The website is regularly updated and information is posted on our Facebook page which to date has 1717 “likes” including people from many other countries. We also have 477 followers on Twitter.


BIG has supported 38 volunteers throughout the year and has continued to attract new volunteers with many skills and talents. Each volunteer has received an induction, relevant training, and copies of policies. Communication has been through volunteer meetings, one to one conversations, e-mails and texts. All our volunteers received SOVA training and three days training in Interpersonal Skills.

BIG would not exist without our volunteers. We are very grateful to them and we have continued to show our appreciation to volunteers through verbal praise, written feedback and certificates. We do pride ourselves on the retention of volunteers. Those who have left have done so because they have moved on to paid employment, courses in education or because of personal circumstances.

Links with Universities of Manchester and Bolton

We have had 6 undergraduate psychology students on placement who proved to be a great asset to BIG.

Karin Bacha who chose BIG for her PhD research has now completed this. The subject being: “Experiences and perceptions of helpful and unhelpful relationships with mental health professionals”. Congratulations to Karin from us all.

After completing past placements with BIG, 4 university students have enjoyed their time so much that they decided to formally become volunteers with us.


The Board of Trustees have held a meeting every month. Minutes have been kept and all actions completed.

We have been working in accordance with all current policies: Equal Opportunities; Health and Safety; Code of Conduct; Complaints and Problem Solving; Confidentiality; Boundaries; Safeguarding; Data Protection and the Volunteer Handbook.


Thank you to Stan Edwards who served as a Trustee during the last year. Stan left BIG in March 2017.

Thank you to all trustees for their hard work.

Current Trustees are:

Frances Halligan – Chair

Jon Holding – Treasurer

Jordan Fahy – Secretary

Donna Webb – Trustee

Beth Fisher – Non-voting, Associate Member

In line with our Constitution, all Trustees are appointed for a term of 3 years. There are no positions due for election.


We are grateful to Bury Council for the £10,000 funding we received for the last year. Bury Funding ended 30th June 2017 from Bury Council who will not be providing further funding.

We were successful in a bid to the Tony Lloyd Commissioning Fund for a Dual Diagnosis Project. We were awarded £5,000 for the period, February 2017 – January 2018. We are grateful for this funding. We run two groups a week, the Wednesday evening Dual Recovery and a group on the Irwell Unit, Fairfield Hospital, for patients on the psychiatric ward. Both groups are proving to be a great support to those attending. The Dual Diagnosis Project will include a lot of outreach work and liaison work with other organisations.

In the changing environment and the uncertain financial future of the local authorities and other funding organisations, there is increasing competition for the money which is available. We have not received any other funding as yet for this financial year. Pennine Care have agreed to pay us £10,000 which we expect to receive soon for which we will be very grateful.


We do have healthy reserves which will help to sustain BIG whilst we strive to seek further funding.