It's been a busy period at Time to Change as we plan for a second phase of the programme. As many of you will know, we're currently funded by the Big Lottery Fund and Comic Relief until September 2011- but we have always had a longer-term vision.We know, from looking at anti-stigma work elsewhere in the world and from previous efforts in England, that campaigns need to be sustained over a long period of time in order to have a real and lasting impact on public attitudes and behaviour. After all, we have decades of discrimination and prejudice to overcome.
After generations of isolation we now have a new social movement that empowers people to tackle stigma and overcome discrimination - a movement that all of you are part of. We also have evidence that the general public is starting to move away from prejudice and towards tolerance and improved understanding. We must sustain these changes, so we're determined that our work needs to continue well beyond 2011.
We believe that the government has a role to play in funding and delivering the campaign in the next phase. In Scotland, New Zealand and many other countries worldwide, governments have funded voluntary-sector providers to run anti-stigma campaigns. As well as the very obvious human benefits this work can also contribute to a wide range of government priorities. Research suggests that anti-discrimination programmes can provide opportunities for substantial economic benefits and save costs of public services, by encouraging people to seek help earlier, improving employment practices, and empowering people to play a more active role in their communities - a key government aim for the 'Big Society'.
Our proposal for Phase 2 outlines all of these benefits, and a strategy for how we would develop and continue the programme between 2011 and 2015. We propose continuing with our anti-stigma campaign, with social leadership by people with mental health problems, and community partnerships and events on a local level integral to the model.
We'll keep you posted on how plans progress over the coming months. In the current economic climate, and with a new government beginning to set out its plans, there are uncertainties about funding across the public and voluntary sectors. But we will fight hard to ensure that our vision of a more equal society, where people with mental health problems can live free from discrimination, becomes a reality.