Mental health first aid – and how a conversation could change your life

Imagine yourself in one of the following situations:

  • You are shopping in a large crowded supermarket and join a long queue at a checkout. You notice that the woman in front of you is looking around in a distracted manner; she seems to become increasingly confused and very breathless
  • You notice that a work colleague has been losing weight recently and looks tired; she does not seem to be coping with her normal work activities and tells you she has stopped doing her normal obbies. One day you find her tearful and crying.
  • Your teenage son seems to be becoming more and more isolated and does not interact with his friends any longer. He spends a lot of time alone in his bedroom. One day when you enter his room you see that he has covered the window with dark material and also covered his television, radio and mirror. You feel uneasy (see note 1). Continue reading Mental health first aid – and how a conversation could change your life

Localism and the web: a new era for England’s democracy?

Article originally published on opendemocracy.net February 2012

Local democracy in England is in a troubled state. Swingeing cuts to local government, voter apathy and declining civic involvement all suggest a parlous state of affairs and with no let up in the economic gloom, the prospect of double dip recession threatens to sideline every other issue.

That at least is one take on the current state of local democracy. But here’s another: new forms of democratic expression and action are emerging and new networks and nodes of power are being created through the organising power of the internet.  These will both disrupt existing democratic norms and reconfigure them in ways that strengthen them. Continue reading Localism and the web: a new era for England’s democracy?