Model defends people with Learning Disabilities

Former Big Brother contestant Imogen Thomas showed her support for 5 Boroughs Partnership NHS Foundation Trust’s Stamp Out Stigma campaign by following the organisation on social networking site Twitter, shortly after expressing her disgust at the use of the word ‘mong’ because of the offence it causes to those with disabilities.

The Welsh glamour model tweeted, “I dont like the slang word ‘mong’. For those who are handicapped its disrespectful. Ppl should b thankful that they are healthy. Upsets me.” The comment was in response to a previous tweet referring to her as a ‘mong’, in which Imogen quickly responded, expressing her dislike for the stigmatising word.

The Trust’s Stamp Out Stigma campaign uses the slogan “Sticks and stones may break my bones – words can also hurt me” and aims to prevent people from using hurtful and stigmatising words to describe those suffering from mental illness and disabilities. Since 1st April 2010 the campaign has received over 100,000 online pledges with the help of key supporters, such as Stephen Fry, helping to publicise the campaign. 

“I think that it is excellent that a celebrity like Imogen Thomas who is high profile at the moment has shown her support to our ‘Sticks and Stones’ campaign,” says Joanne Waldron, the Trust’s E-Communications & Social Media Officer “It is great that Imogen has tweeted her annoyance about people using these degrading words to others”. 

The former Miss Wales joins other high profile supporters including Alastair Campbell, Paul O’Grady and ‘Loose Women’ panellist Lynda Bellingham in backing the campaign.

Learning Disability Week
Blog, News | 21st June 2011

It is Learning Disability this week and there are 1.5 million people with a learning disability in the UK. Like all of us, they are individuals who want different things in life and need different levels of support. We are interested to hear what events you are arranging or are attending this week, or what plans you have for Learning Disability week.

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Attitudes towards mental illness are changing
Blog, News | 10th June 2011

The Attitudes toward Mental illness are improving, this survey by the Guardian shows that perceptions are shifting, but still one in six people still believe lack of willpower is major cause of mental health problems. View this information here:

To most people this is just another word
One many times they have heard
But in mental health it’s becoming a force
More will sign before its run its course
What is it this word will it last
Until name calling becomes a thing of the past
Celebrities and officials carry our banner
And ordinary workers of every manner
If I shout at someone don’t call me
I am ill and sometimes different things I see
If I talk to someone who is not there too
I hear voices don’t call me it wont affect you
If I imagine I am ill and always scratching
Don’t call me names it’s not catching
Looney weirdo nutter we’ve heard it before
Bonkers crackers psycho and much more
Of course my favourite she is mad
But what if it’s your mum or dad
Mental health is not like a cold its no bug
And anyone of us it can decide to hug
So leave me alone if I shout and rave
I maybe confused and attention I don’t crave
Imagine this before you call me insane
If you were paranoid wouldn’t that cause pain?
So don’t call me names as I walk by
Try to think there for the face of god go I
I am just a carer trying to explain
Why you should joint our stamp out stigma campaign
Jeff Hughes, Nursing Assistant, Iris Ward
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Home is where stigma doesn’t live
Blog, News | 5th May 2011

Nine housing associations across Merseyside and Cheshire have grouped together to offer people with mental ill-health and learning disabilities a safe haven from the pain of stigma.

The local housing providers have all backed ‘Sticks and Stones’ – an award-winning campaign initiated by 5 Boroughs Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

By pledging not to use words that are offensive to describe people with mental ill-health on behalf of their staff, the housing associations have each sealed their corporate partnership with the Trust.

“One in four of our customers will experience mental ill health over the course of any one year,” says Brian Cronin, Chief Executive of Arena Housing.

“Signing this petition gives me the opportunity to reassure them we will offer our support and understanding in their time of need. I applaud my colleagues in the housing sector who have also backed the campaign. We can now work together to take the values of ‘Sticks and Stones’ forward across Merseyside and beyond.”

Golden Gates Housing Trust in Warrington became the first housing provider to sign the petition last November, followed by Liverpool-based Arena Housing this month.

Brian Cronin then contacted his local peers to ask them to sign the petition. The Trust has since welcomed the Regenda Group, Adactus Housing Group, Helena Partnerships, Riverside, Wirral Partnership Homes, Liverpool Housing Trust and the Plus Dane Group on board with the campaign.

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We’ve Done It….
Blog, News | 1st April 2011

Our target of 100,000 pledges in 12 months has been met just days before our final deadline – 31 March 2011.

We first launched our ‘Sticks and Stones’ campaign on 1 April 2010 with the support of comedian Stephen Fry.

Since then all the local authorities, primary care trusts and provider arms in our footprint, as well as major employers such as Carphone Warehouse, the Environment Agency, Northwest Regional Development Agency and chemical giants INEOS have signed on behalf of their staff. Pledges have also flooded in from our popular Twitter and Facebook sites.

“100,000 pledges is equivalent to one in ten people living locally in the five boroughs we serve – Halton, Knowsley, St Helens, Warrington and Wigan,” says the Trust’s Chief Executive Simon Barber.

The fact that so many members of the public, service users, carers, volunteers, partner organisations, schools and celebrities have signed shows that there is no place for stigma in our communities, our homes, our schools and our workplaces. But our fight against stigma goes on.

“We will now look at how we can support those employers and schools who have signed on behalf of their staff and pupils to continue to deliver on the pledges they have made.”

Overall, we aimed to educate people about the realities of mental health problems and learning disabilities and to ask them to make a pledge not to use words that can hurt, offend and stigmatise people suffering from these complex and often distressing conditions.

The campaign is built around a core slogan, “Sticks and stones may break my bones – words can also hurt me,” which is a familiar memorable nursery rhyme with a twist.

Support from celebrities such as Paul O’Grady and Lynda Bellingham has helped to attract national publicity, while political support has come from the leaders of the Coalition Government, Alastair Campbell and Andy Burnham, Leigh MP.

From the world of sport, boxer Frank Bruno, cricketer Marcus Trescothick, Everton team Captain Phil Neville, Wigan Athletic, Wigan Warriors, Warrington Wolves and Saints have all signed the petition.

We have developed lesson plans and teaching resources to assist schools in delivering lessons on stigma, mental health and learning disabilities to children and young people, as well an employer’s pack containing guidance of recruiting and retaining employees with mental ill health.

To request a copy of the teaching pack, contact Kathryn Winders on 01925 664002 or email [email protected]

If you are an employer and you are interested in corporate partnership, contact Michelle Ewen on 01925 664818 or email [email protected]

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Wirral Partnership Homes become corporate Partners
Blog, News | 17th March 2011

Wirral Partnership homes have now become corporate partners to our Sticks and Stones campaign, on behalf of their staff.

WPH Chief Executive, Brian Simpson, said: “The fact that one in four of our customers will experience mental ill health at some point in their lives makes this partnership vital in ensuring we offer the right support. WPH is proud to be joining the Stamp out Stigma campaign to put a stop to discrimination across Wirral.”

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Chemical giant to stamp out stigma
Blog, News | 16th March 2011

Halton-based chemical giants INEOS ChlorVinyls, INEOS Enterprises and INEOS Technologies are the latest employers to become Corporate Partners of a local campaign that is challenging mental health and learning disability-related stigma.

A representative of 5 Boroughs Partnership NHS Foundation Trust visited the company premises in Runcorn recently met with Human Resources Director Tony Moorcroft. He officially signed the ‘Sticks and Stones’ petition on behalf of the company’s workforce.

“In its ‘No Health Without Mental Health’ strategy the Coalition Government recently shared its vision that fewer people with mental ill health would experience stigma and discrimination,” says Tony.

“In signing this petition we hope to demonstrate our commitment to this strategy. There is no place within our organisation for the type of hurtful and offensive words this award-winning campaign is challenging.”

1,370 people are employed by INEOS ChlorVinyls, INEOS Enterprises and INEOS Technologies, which manufactures essential chemicals for everyday life at its sites in both Runcorn and Northwich.

Including the organisation’s staff on the petition has boosted the Trust’s pledge counter to more than 98,000.

“By signing our pledge and becoming a Corporate Partner of this campaign, INEOS ChlorVinyls, INEOS Enterprises and INEOS Technologies have shown themselves to be a caring and socially aware employer,” said Trust Chairman, Bernard Pilkington. “We are delighted to welcome such an eminent international organisation on board with the campaign.”

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Government helping to end stigma attached to mental illness
Blog, News | 16th February 2011

Nick Clegg announced £400 million of ring-fenced spending to help treat people with depression and anxiety

Under plans to be outlined by the Government an extra 1.2 million people will be eligible for ‘talking’ therapies on the NHS over the next four years.

Talking therapies include Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) which doctors believe is as effective as taking anti-depressants at combating some types of mental illness.

CBT works by trying to identify the underlying causes of depression through either individual or group therapy and breaking them down into smaller parts which can be addressed. The coalition claims that nearly half those who will get the new treatment will be “cured” and many more will see a measurable improvement in their condition.

They claim that over for years the new strategy will lead to £700m in savings, in healthcare, tax and welfare gains.

Nick Clegg said: “Mental health needs to be addressed with the same urgency as physical health. We need to end the stigma attached to mental illness, to set an example by talking about the issue openly and candidly and ensure everyone can access the support and information they need.”

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‘Sticks and Stones’ – Highlights of 2010
Blog, News | 31st December 2010

Eight months on since we first launched ‘Sticks and Stones’, we thought we’d remind you off the many campaign highlights which have helped boost our pledge counter to more than 85,000. Please help us get to 100,000 by 31 March 2011! by pledging here online!.


Members of our ‘Sticks and Stones’ Service User, Carer and Volunteer Group joined senior Trust managers at the official launch of our anti-stigma campaign on April Fool’s Day. They were the first people to sign our specially-commissioned giant pledge board, to log on to the purpose-built campaign website and to visit our profile pages on Twitter and Facebook.

The giant pledge board was then whisked straight to the constituency office of Andy Burnham, MP for Leigh and the then-Secretary of State for Health. Andy kindly took time out from pre-election duties to pledge his support for the campaign.

Other high-profile supporters who pledged this month include Roberto Martinez, manager of Wigan Athletic football club and Tony Smith, coach for Warrington Wolves as well as their players.


Comedian Stephen Fry posted two messages on his Twitter profile page urging his 1.5million followers to get behind the campaign. As a result, the pledge counter rocketed from 1,400 to nearly 7,000.

Service users and staff on the Sheridan Ward, based at Hollins Park, were among those who took part in a ‘Sticks and Stones’ event, collecting 50 pledges.

Service User Michael Grime paid a visit to the Culcheth branch of the Women’s Institute to talk about his experiences of mental ill health. As a result 40 ladies pledged their support to the campaign.

Christine Beasley, Chief Nursing Officer, who is the Government’s most senior nursing adviser, signed the petition.


Risley Prison held a ‘Sticks and Stones’ event on Mens’ Health Day. Staff and prisoners pledged their support.

School children from neighbouring high schools attended a stigma session at Padgate Library in Warrington and pledged their support.

The Gay and Lesbian Foundation featured the campaign on their website and in their weekly online newsletter.


Wigan Warriors’ Head Coach Michael Maguire, St Helens ‘Saints’ Head Coach Mick Potter and Everton Football Club team captain Phil Neville signed the petition on behalf of their sports teams.

Service users who have serious mental health conditions including Schizophrenia and Personality Disorder helped to collect more than 800 signatures at this year’s Disability Awareness Day from visitors and exhibitors who attended from across the country.

Political aide Alistair Campbell and boxer Frank Bruno made personal pleas asking for public support for the campaign’s objectives.

“Not using the word ‘psycho’” and “Thinking before I speak,” were just two of the promises children and young people in Knowsley made during a stigma workshop organised by Knowsley Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services.


Warrington Borough Council became the first local authority to become Corporate Partners of the campaign, pledging on behalf of their entire staff. Subsequently, every local authority, primary care trust and provider arm service in our footprint became Corporate Partners too.

Cartoonist ‘Purple Ronnie’ who is famous for his successful range of greeting card designs produced two cartoons inspired by our ‘Sticks and Stones’ rhyme.

Simon Barber and two service users were interviewed by Radio City DJ Pete Price about ‘Sticks and Stones’. Their comments were aired during Pete’s two-hour talk show which inspired a lively debate.


Assistant Director of Marketing and Communications Emma Parkes won a North West Positive Action award for creating the campaign in response to a request from our service users.

Service user Rachael Johnston was interviewed about her involvement by Phillip Scholfield and Holly Willoughby on ITV’s This Morning.

Graham Evans, MP for Weaver Vale, and Yvonne Fovargue, MP for Makerfield, both signed the petition. David Mowat, MP for Warrington South, also voiced his support during a visit to the Trust.

We received additional support from Professor of Clinical Psychology Elizabeth Kuipers who is based at King’s College, London and from the members of the North West Mental Health Chief Executives Group which is led by David Monk.


Comedian Stephen Fry yet again Tweeted his followers, encouraging them to support ‘Sticks and Stones’; this time for World Mental Health Day. As a result, we smashed our half-way target of 50,000 pledges as the global community united to raise public awareness of mental health issues.

Our Communications team won a ‘Special Achievement’ award at this year’s Association of Healthcare Communicator Awards. The team was recognised for the breadth of its achievement across all categories including its work on ‘Sticks and Stones’ and received special praise from Colin Douglas, Director of Communications for the NHS.

Catherine Meddemmen, an activities co-ordinator for the trust, visited Liverpool’s famous fashion boutique ‘Cricket’ to collect signatures during a mental health awareness event.

Cricketer Marcus Trescothick became a ‘Sticks and Stones’ supporter.


Eight members of staff from Wigan Child and Adolescent Mental Health trekked up Mount Snowdon, the highest peak in Wales, collecting more than 800 signatures as sponsorship.

The Northwest Regional Development Agency, leading UK learning disability charity Mencap, Warrington-based Golden Gates Housing Trust and Riverside College in Halton were among those organisations who became Corporate Partners.

The campaign was short-listed in the Health Business Awards’ NHS Publicity Campaign Award category and in Some Comms Awards’ Best Social Media Campaign category. It won a Warrington Disability Partnership 2010 Appreciation of Efforts award.

The annual Mental Health Congress, sponsored by HSJ and Nursing Times, supported the campaign with a special showcase to delegates, designed to highlight best practice in tackling Stigma.

‘Loose Women’ panellist Lynda Bellingham became a celebrity supporter.


The Federation of Cardinal Newman Catholic High School and St Gregory’s Catholic High School became the first Warrington-based schools to sign our petition on behalf of more than 1,700 pupils. The schools have been working through the lesson plans we have developed to enable teachers to deliver sessions on mental health, learning disabilities and stigma.

Two million opportunities to view positive news stories about mental health and learning disabilities were created as a result of the campaign.

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Fill our bin!
Fill our bin!
We’re aiming to collect 100,000 pledges to stamp out stigma!

If you are a member of the media and would like to make an enquiry please contact our communications team in the first instance.

Emma ParkesEmma Parkes
Assistant Director of Marketing & Communications
Tel 01925 664497
[email protected]

Emma ParkesMichelle Ewen
PR & Publications Officer
Tel 01925 664818
[email protected]

Fill our bin!
We’re aiming to collect 100,000 pledges to stamp out stigma!

If you are a member of the media and would like to make an enquiry please contact our communications team in the first instance.

Emma Parkes
Assistant Director of Marketing & Communications
Tel 01925 664497
[email protected]

Michelle Ewen
PR & Publications Officer
Tel 01925 664818
[email protected]