The first phase of Synergi established an international centre of excellence on ethnic inequalities, severe mental illness and multiple disadvantage.

In this new phase of Synergi, our focus is on shifting power and resource to grassroots groups and community organisers working on the intersection of racial justice and mental health. We will be working with people doing lived experience work on the ground, who are imagining and building alternatives. We want to connect, amplify, celebrate and resource this work.

We are keen to work with all groups that have expressed an interest in Synergi so far, and begin to answer some questions about how best to do this work. Here is what has brought Synergi Project Manager Jessica (she/they), Synergi Director Debbie (she/her) and Communities and Grants Coordinator Alaina (she/her) to this work and what drives them forward.

“The survivor movements I’ve been part of in the UK are very white, which is a shame because we know that black people are more likely to be put on Community Treatment Orders, higher doses of antipsychotics, more likely to be forcibly injected etc. We also know that racialised people often organise around different issues, perhaps not seeing mental ill health / distress through the individualised lens that white survivor movements are reacting to. Perhaps not feeling safe to identify as part of a ‘mad movement’.

We want to bring a lens to the work that is happening, the work of resistance that has always existed, we want to build on black feminist thought around community care and abolition, strengthening the movement by offering resourcing and opportunities to network. Do we need to build different spaces that welcome racialised experiences? Or just get in touch with what’s already out there? These are some of the questions we hope Synergi will begin to answer”

Jess, Project Manager

“It would be a disavow and reductive to limit the experiences of mental health to White bodies. Rather, there is a need to acknowledge the interdependent but interrelated dimensions of racism and how it impacts on the everyday experiences of those who inhabit racialised bodies. Synergi’s aim is to amplify grassroots communities (who have historically been absent from the discourse and epistemology of mental health). Those working at the intersection of mental health and racial justice are not a homogenous group but rather a spectrum that includes resistance, liberation and also joy….

Grassroots communities have operated with limited resources because the current non-flexible funding systems were not built for them. I want to be part of the current conversation to move towards trust-based forms of grant-making. What is required, is a simplified jargon free grant application process in tandem with upskilling local communities’ ability to apply for funding.”

Debbie, Director

“The intersections of racial justice and mental health carry such varied impacts on our individual and collective experiences. This can often become a tool for fragmenting us and our work due to siloed, limited resourcing and a lack of visibility. However, rather than disconnecting us, intersectionality can also be a tool for solidarity, and my hopes for Synergi are to create and nourish spaces where we can build solidarity and movement together. As well connecting to what is happening now, we can resonate with the work of those who came before us, and will archive the past and present for future generations to continue to build on.”

Alaina, Synergi Project Co-ordinator