Human rights campaigns group Black Mental Health UK (BMH UK) has launched its Top 30 List of the leading lights working in this sector for 2013.

Essential reading for anyone working in this sector or with an interest in human rights and social justice, this year’s list showcases the top individuals and organisations that have done outstanding work in the arena of ethnicity and mental health as it relates to the UK’s African Caribbean communities in the past 12 months.

This year has seen many of the issues BMH UK has been campaigning against such as black deaths in custody and the highly coercive treatment and care meted out to  this group when they come into contact with mental health services gain new ground.

BMH UK’s Top 30 list for 2013 acknowledges the individuals and organisations that have in no small way assisted in the work that we do to address the human rights abuses faced by too many vulnerable black people who come in contact with mental health services, often with tragic consequences.

Matilda MacAttram director of BMH UK said: ‘The outstanding achievements of those who have made BMH UK’s Top 30 List for 2013 serves as an inspiration of what is being done by the most dedicated and inspiring professionals, activists and individual across this sector.

While resistance by vested interests and the opportunists seeking only self promotion from some of the most tragic incident that have occurred in this sector can make this a challenging arena to work in, this list showcases the best of what is happening in this sector.’

‘We want people to read our list of the top 30 for 2012 and be inspired to do even more in 2014.’

  • Black Mental Health UK is a human rights campaigns group established to address the over representation of African Caribbean's within secure psychiatric care and raise awareness to address the stigma associated with  mental health.
  • People from the UK’s African Caribbean communities continue to be  over represented among those detained under the Mental Health Act and subject to the most coercive treatment,  even though black people do not suffer higher rates of mental illness than any other ethnic group.

Read BMH UK’s Top 30 List for 2013 here:

Government & Public Policy

Lord Herman Ouseley, has again proved to be a voice for the voiceless at the heart of power throughout 2013. He has consistently spoken out or raised questions in the Lords on behalf of BMH UK on the treatment of black people who come in contact with mental health services.
From ensuring this issue was raised in the debate tabled by Lord Paul Boateng on the needs of BME disabled people in January to publicly backing BMH UK’s campaign against black deaths in custody.

Charles Walker MP, has proved to be a politician with the courage of his convictions, taking the most challenging and repeatedly sidelined issue of black deaths in custody to the heart of power.

Walker made history this December 2013 by tabling the first ever parliamentary debate on black deaths in custody, and unapologetically focused on the disproportionate numbers of people from the UK’s African Caribbean communities who are losing their lives in this way.
He has made it known to the political classes that this is an issue which is firmly at the top of black Briton’s agenda. 

Norman Lamb MP, Minister of State for Care & Support,  from accepting to be the keynote speaker at first ever national conference on Policing, Mental Health & black Briton organised by ACCI & BMH UK  in June,  to chairing a ministerial round table on mental health and Briton’s African Caribbean communities, this senior politician has been true to his word and kept his door and more importantly ears open to concerns and many injustices faced by black people who come in contact with mental health services.

Through BMH UK Minister Norman Lamb has made time to meet and listen to bereaved relatives of those detained under the Mental Health Act and community leaders committed to serving this group.  BMH UK hopes that his planned reforms for crisis care and restraint quickly become a reality for those who are forced to use these services.

Andrew Mitchell MP, former chief whip, with firsthand experience of falling victim to the worst aspects of policing, not unlike many of the service users from the UK’s African Caribbean communities, Mitchell has given his time to support the work of BMH UK in 2013.
Behind the scenes he has opened doors to those at the heart of power that others have actively worked to keep shut, and facilitated meetings where BMH UK’s director Matilda MacAttram has been able to voice concerns of one of the society’s voiceless group.

Dr Leslie Thomas LLB, currently barrister for the Duggan family in the Mark Duggan inquest, Thomas, was contacted by the family of the latest death in custody victim, Leon Briggs from Luton immediately after the 39-year-old tragically lost his life, after he was taken into police custody in November this year. Named ‘Lawyer of the Year’ by his peers in 2012,  this coming year will see Thomas continue  to take up the causes of bereaved families of mental health services users and others in law courts up and down the country.

Chinyere Inyama, Her Majesty’s Coroner for West London, Inyama made legal history as the first black coroner in 2011. While this has meant him spending less time as a legal activist in the arena of mental health, he chaired the ground breaking national conference on Policing, Mental Health & black Briton in June, which put this issue on the national mental health agenda. Inyama continues to support the work of mental health as it relates to people from the UK’s African Caribbean communities as patron of ACCI (African Caribbean Community Initiative).

Matilda MacAttram, Black Mental Health UK, continues to lead the only agency from the community that lobbies parliament and campaigns consistently for positive change at a national and grass roots level for improvements in the way people from the UK’s African Caribbean communities in need of mental health care are treated.

In her capacity as a fellow of the United Nations Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent (UNWGPAD), MacAttram  has taken the issue of the highly coercive practices used against black people in mental health care to the United Nations (UN) and  seen them brought before the Human Rights Council at the United Nations General Assembly in August this year.

Dr Frank Chinegwundoh MBE, consultant urologist Harley Street, chair of Cancer Black Care. A leader in the field of cancer care, the pioneering work he is focusing on in relation to the physical well being of mental health service users from the UK’s African Caribbean communities in relation to early intervention for cancer in partnership with BMH UK, is expected to have the same life saving impact that his work in the area of prostate cancer has achieved.

Mental Health

Alicia Spence, ACCI (African Caribbean Community Initiative). The life saving work of one of the oldest black led services in this sector cannot be underestimated. Spence’s leadership of committed professionals from the community who go the extra mile in every aspect of the care and support of the most vulnerable people living in Wolverhampton is the model mental health care that needs to be replicated across the country.

Spence’s standard of excellence and leading by example, ensures that everyone who uses this service is treated with humanity and compassion that make this a rare mental health facility that black people do not fear using.

Marie Walker, Black People’s Mental Health Association, leads the only black led mental health service in Waltham Forest. Set up originally to support the high numbers of homeless young men from the community, 22 years on this service is still offering  a ‘safe space’ for both carers and those who use mental health services from this community.

Dr Geraldine Strathdee, National Clinical Director of Mental Health, NHS England, a clinician with a vision for making real improvements for the very groups whose poor treatment has been sidelined in recent years. Her planned reforms on better early intervention and less compulsion has brought new optimism to one of the most challenging areas of mental health care.
Dr Strathdee spoke at ACCI & BMH UK national conference on Policing, Mental Health & black Briton this year, where she was clear in her commitment to getting the issue of ethnicity and mental health right.

Service Users

Rachel Barclay, executive director, Two Way Street, leads this much needed black African Caribbean mental health social firm in Bristol. Despite swathing funding cuts to her work Barclay continues to offer  range of highly sought after culturally appropriate services, from advocacy and inpatient visits, to  self funding peer support groups for people who would otherwise not get any kind of support at all.

Amos Omerri, has articulated the need to ensure that humanity and accountability lies at the heart of services at forums including the IPCC (Independent Police Complaint Commissions) Article 2 review, and ACCI & BMH UK national conference on policing, mental health & black Briton. Omerri has brought into these arena important insight into the disturbing challenges faced by men of this generation who have been detained under the Mental Health Act.


London Assembly’s Police and Crime Committee (PCC), the support of PCC chair, Joanne McCartney, deputy chair Jenny Jones and Jennette Arnold has ensured BMH UK’s concerns around policing in the capital has been kept on London government’s agenda; particularly in  relation to London’s African Caribbean communities and the Met’s roll out of Taser guns and also policing and mental health.

Bob Jones, Police and Crime Commissioner for the West Midlands (PCC) & Yvonne Mosquito Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner their initiative and drive in the area of mental health and policing, has led to some of the best practice in the country. Unlike parts of London that are home to some of the largest African Caribbean communities, West Midlands police do not take anyone known to officers as needing mental health into police custody.

The cases of Mikey Powell and Kingsley Burrell-Brown make it clear that a lot of work still needs to be done and there is long way to go before community confidence is restored.

Under the leadership of Bob Jones and his deputy Yvonne Mosquito the indicators show that with ongoing engagement with BMH UK and others, that this is entirely possible.

Commander Christine Jones, Metropolitan Police’s lead for Mental Health & ACPO (Association of Chief Police Officers) lead for mental health. A powerhouse for change, Cmdr Jones has a clear and unswerving commitment to her profession, but comes to the issue of mental health as it relates to Briton’s African Caribbean communities with an understanding of the importance in improving the experience of those in crisis, particularly in the wake recent tragic fatalities.

Many of the high level policy changes taking place at this time have been greatly improved by Cmdr Jones, who effortlessly sweeps aside resistance to reform on mental health services over-reliance on the police when dealing with vulnerable people experiencing a mental health crisis.


The Voice Newspaper, Briton’s leading black newspaper’s support of BMH UK’s work and partnership on ACCI & BMH UK’s national conference on Policing, Mental Health & black Briton have ensured that BMH UK’s key messages and campaign work has reached the heart of the community with a consistency that shows a real heart for those whose lives may be touched by the issue.
 BMH UK particularly appreciate George Ruddock, Elizabeth Pears, Poppy Brady & Natricia Ducan’s backing throughout 2013.

Amina Taylor, Press TV, whenever there’s a story on mental health and black Briton, Amina is guaranteed to be there with her camera crew and microphone to get BMH UK’s perspective. The consistency and sensitive way in which some of the most challenging issue have been covered by this excellent journalist have helped our work enormously in 2013.

Doton Adebayo, BBC Radio London, a supporter of the work of BMH UK for a number of years, this broadcaster and journalist has given BMH UK’s campaigns airtime and opened to the doors to senior officials in positions of power that has helped to take the campaign work to new levels in 2013.

Colleen Harris, BBC’s support of BMH UK’s work throughout 2013 has made sure our campaigns and key messages have reached Londoner’s and black community across the regions.

Voice of Africa Radio, Alkebu-lan Revivalist Movement, consistent inclusion of BMH UK’s news and campaigns in their empowering  weekly  broadcasting  reaching out to the heart of the black community’s  has ensured our work has been communicated to sections of the community who do not use mainstream media.


Michelle Fullerton & family, since getting in contact with BMH UK  days after the tragic death of Andell Malia just three weeks into the beginning of 2013, this family have faced a David and Goliath battle, to uncover exactly how this physically healthy 24-year-old died, after seeking help from mental health services as a voluntary patient.

Their decision to continue this battle in the face of an inquest verdict of ‘natural causes’  in October  shows the strength of their resolve, which BMH UK are sure will lead to justice.

J4L (Justice for Leon Briggs) campaign, the immediate response of a community in its call for justice for the father-of-two shows that people will no longer stay silent over the injustices of the deaths of physically healthy men from the community  after they picked up by the police when in need of mental health care.

Leon’s family and this campaigns commitment to hold weekly vigils outside Luton police station sends a loud message the kind of treatment meted out to men from the community when in crisis will no longer be tolerated.

Rupert Sylvester and family, Campaign for Justice for Roger Sylvester, tirelessly campaigning since 1999, the Sylvester family have continued to fight for justice for their son’s death in the face of legal challenges that have silenced many.

Their refusal to keep quiet and go away for the past 14 years has meant that the Sylvester’s have in many ways also become the voice of so many families of service users who have also lost their lives at the hands of the police.

Ajibola Lewis, Justice for Seni campaign, was catapulted into a campaign for justice in 2010, after staff at South London & Maudsley (SLAM) NHS Trust called in a squad of officers, to restrain her son, Olaseni Lewis, for 45 minutes, just 24 hours after he had been admitted as a voluntary patient.
Her pursuit to uncover the truth as to what happened to her son, who would have completed his PhD by now, has taken her and her family to the High Court, just to ensure the officers involved in this case are interviewed under caution. Three years into their pursuit of justice, the strength and tenacity of this family are commendable.

Kedisha Burrell’s, Justice for Kingsley Burrell-Brown, commitment to secure justice for her brother three years after he was restrained by police while detained under the Mental Health Act has seen her, with the backing of BMH UK, take her campaign to parliament. In the face of endless delays on when a hearing will be set for her brother’s case, Kedisha has not been moved.

Through BMH UK she has briefed ministers and politicians about her brother’s case to get justice for Kingsley with the hope that this will prevent others from needlessly dying in this way.

Marcia Rigg, Sam Rigg-David, Sean Rigg Justice and Change, continuing the fight for justice for singer and songwriter Sean Rigg, who lost his life at Brixton Police station while in urgent need of mental health care in 2008.

This year saw the IPCC reopen the police investigation into his death. The resilience with which this family continues to battle against the myriad of challenges to secure justice for a loved one five years after his death is commendable.

Church & Human Rights

Bishop Llewellyn Grayham, New Testament Church of God, a consistent supporter of the work of BMH UK in and out of season, he has used his senior position with the black church to mainstream many of the issues BMH UK has campaigned on, and offers the perfect example for other church leaders from the community to emulate.

Archdeacon Daniel Kajumba, Committee for Ethnic Minority Anglican Concerns, uses his high office in serving ‘the very least of these’ and has consistently supported the campaign work of BMH UK.

He continues to open door to the most senior members of the Church of England who would not otherwise be aware of BMH UKs work and the injustices faced by some of most vulnerable in society.

United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent.  BMH UK’s director Matilda MacAttram raised human rights concerns about the treatment of black patients by mental health services with the United Nations Working Group on People of African Descent (UNWGPAD). The inclusion of issues raised by BMH UK in the UNWGPAD’s report presented to the United Nations General Assembly Human Rights Council in August 2013, has for the first time  put the treatment of people from the UK’s African Caribbean communities who come in contact with mental health services on to the international human rights agenda.

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