People Management: Three minutes with Andrew McCulloch, Mental Health Foundation

How did the foundation's travelling bursaries come about? We were recently left a legacy to create a learning opportunity and, after some consideration, we decided it would be more exciting to break it down into several bursaries of £2,500 so more people could benefit from it.

What is the aim of the bursaries? The bursaries aim to encourage people working in the mental health field to broaden their knowledge and experience by travelling to see mental health provision or activities in other settings in the UK and abroad. We hope to generate ideas and fire up staff.

How can you qualify for a bursary? You will have to come up with a very sharp, intuitive idea and prove that it will add real value to your organisation.

You will then have to write a full report for us.

Who can apply? It's open to service users as well as staff. We will not get real improvements for service users unless we offer them the same opportunities as staff to have an input into how services are run.

This is not tokenism. We are really committed to the principle of engaging service users.

I would expect to get applications for bursaries to travel to places such as Italy, New Zealand and Australia, where service users have helped bring about real change.

Why do you want to encourage travel in this way? Training within the sector can be quite rigid, and we are trying to be more imaginative. Mental health does not cover high-tech services - it's more about human interaction - and studies show that learning based on experiences is much more effective than sitting in a classroom. We hope to fund around four or five bursaries a year and will run them for between five and 10 years, topping up the funding ourselves if necessary.

The application deadline is 15 July 2005. Grants will be awarded in October 2005. For further information and an application form, visit www.mentalhealth.org.uk or call 020 7803 1100.

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