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My Account of the last Perceptions A.G.M.

by Chris Andrew

An account of personal experience by Chris, who was actually AT the disturbing meeting in December 2010.

Dear Zyra,

Sorry it's taken me so long to get back to you. Well, what happened at last December's meeting? Basically I stood up (to be counted), told the truth and was crucified for it.

The big problem is that Rethink just can't deal with people like me - one of the lucky ones who, though having suffered mental illness, is lucky enough nowadays to be free of it. Someone who can speak to them as an equal (what would they make of that - probably accuse me of speaking blasphemy!) and someone who is able to stand up to them.

The background to this is that, at the previous meeting - the first which I had attended for a long time - the whole room were unanimous in wanting me to return to be an A.L.O. and were happy to pay me to do it. (I hadn't gone to the meeting with this in mind, it just happened.) However, between meetings I was told by Maurice that this couldn't be done - there wasn't enough money in the kitty to cover my honorarium and his conference. Tough!

When the Agenda came through for the A.G.M. I was somewhat alarmed to see that there was a proposal to reduce our meetings to only one a year (which wouldn't really have give any new members any chance at all to become actively involved) and also to withdraw the two existing honoraria. I spoke to several members about this before the meeting - and said that I was willing to speak up and oppose them, because I felt that I had nothing to lose.

So, I attended the meeting, opposed both motions, succcessfully, and when voted on, they were turned down.

It wasn't a particularly pleasant meeting - feelings were running high, and I was quite glad when it was over. However, I could never have anticipated the fallout that would come afterwards. In early January, I started to receive the most atrocious e-mails from Christian Wilcox (the new elected Chair - who, incidentally, only beat me to this by one vote) claiming that Rethink had suspended any further meetings and moved Rachel Brett to other duties, due to the disturbance at the meeting - which was all down to me. Despite the fact that I strongly denied this, and was supported by virtually everyone else who had been there (including Chris Barchard, Sophie, Keith and Clare Cristiani) this view was upheld.

I had only "disturbed" the meeting by speaking out against the proposals and getting them overturned. It's frankly nonsense to suggest that I was disruptive and upset people in the meeting - as I don't think I would been voted in unanimously as vice-Chair if this had been the case. The meeting was conducted in a perfectly and democratic fashion - although Rethink have since seen fit to overturn the decisions that were taken by Perceptions members. It's also very strange, seeing that they claim that Rethink staff were unable to carry on with their work because of the noise that we making, that nobody thought to pop their head round the door and ask us to keep the noise down!!!

Anyway, those are the facts, do with them what you will!

Warmest regards.


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Chris also adds: "I would like the wider membership to know what is going on, before it's too late". A very telling point.