The Ugandan Human Rights Commission recognized the outstanding work of two of our members by selecting them as Human Rights Community Heroes. This award is for individuals from various communities across the country who have consistently stood up for someone’s rights in one way or the other, knowingly or un-knowingly. Benon Kabale and JJ Paul Nyeko were presented with their award along with 8 other heroes at a ceremony in late 2016.
Meanwhile in the UK, Jo Cheng was the winner of the Bill Ryder award from the Lancaster University Doctorate in Clinical Psychology. This annual award, in memory of Bill Ryder, is given to a Clinical Psychology trainee who demonstrates an outstanding commitment to the reduction of stigma for individuals with mental health issues. The award includes a fund of £400 which can be used to attend conferences, towards financing an innovative placement as part of their training, or to purchase books and learning equipment.
Our congratulations to all of you!
About JJ Paul
From his appointment as mental attendant and someone who uses mental health services, JJ Paul’s passionate interest was to start a pioneering mental health service user’s organization. In 2011 he worked to initiate a pioneering mental health service user’s movement in Gulu and registered Mental Health Uganda as a Community Based Organization with Gulu District Local Government. JJ Paul has worked extensively within his community to support those in need including capacity building work with disabled peer support groups, support for homeless people in Gulu, enabling access to national registration for mental health service users, and extensive advocacy for the rights of vulnerable members of society both in person and on the radio. JJ Paul’s dream is to establish and run a model Regional Center of Excellency in Mental Health and Psychosocial Rehabilitation in Northern Uganda.
Benon has volunteered extensively on mental health projects including on a local council, a Community Mental Health Initiative, as a Community Drug Distributer, and as an accountant at a service user organisation. Benon currently works as a Peer Support Manager and Recovery College Officer at Butabika national mental health referral hospital. He has made submissions to the Ugandan high court showing that the use of seclusion in psychiatric hospitals amounts to torture and promoted the development of a human-rights compliant referral system. Benon continues to be involved in legal challenges and direct interventions to improve the standard of care and treatment of people with mental ill health with respect to their human rights and dignity both in psychiatric institutions and within Ugandan communities.
Jo has been instrumental in raising the funds to support Sharing Stories in delivering two forum theatre events in the UK and Uganda which focus on tackling stigma. With her support Sharing Stories has been able to significantly increase the size of the events, allowing the attendance of a wide variety of experts by experience, professionals, and trainees in related professions and giving them all on opportunity to experience using the forum theatre technique. Through Jo’s efforts Sharing Stories have been able to allow people to discover new skills and approaches which they can take back to their own lives, both professional and personal, and can impact on stigma in mental health in a positive manner.