Haringey Thinking Space closure: reflections from our Director of Adult and Forensic Services

25 March 2022

Haringey Thinking Space met for the last time this week. Tim Kent our Director of Adult and Forensic Services attended the closing event and shared some reflections.

I attended a Thinking Space event Tuesday evening in a church hall in Tottenham. It's a critical moment in what is one of the most dynamic and powerful community interventions for wellbeing and clear mindedness in an overly busy and traumatised world. It is overtly and proudly inclusive for people of colour seeking to feel seen, heard and understood in a safe community space that is not colour-blind or passive to racialised experience and is equally open to all – membership and values are maintained by a strong sense of group task and identity.

The newly trained facilitators all embody this deeply rooted community approach by applying some core principles of active listening, sharing experience in a safe setting and helping each other bare strong and difficult feelings. Their excellent training was evident. This is explicitly not group psychotherapy in the sense of a consulting room and a formal statutory setting, the stigma and formality is lifted and a strong sense of mutual respect, understanding and intimacy is evident through the powerful stories and evident lived experience. Referral routes are often low key, word of mouth and not linked to a 'mental health service.' Entitlement and competition feels easily managed by the skilled facilitation and felt very different to an NHS group setting.

Thinking Space embraces equality of access and membership beyond all else. As a living legacy to the work of Frank Lowe, Janet Campbell, Laverne Antrobus and colleagues perhaps we can honour and grow the community of thinking spaces with our collective influence and passion for equality and accessibility in the broadly 'systems psychoanalytic' application of emotional care outside of institutional settings.

Frank Lowe's book on 'Thinking Space' is available as, I hope, will be his incredible paper on the Unanalysed Race Complex.

Inspirational work.

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