MINDFUL POLICY GROUP
The Mindful Policy Group (MPG) aims to develop and influence public policy and in the medium term to sustain itself and secure its independence through building a related commercial publishing business.
MPG is working towards the incorporation of Attachment Theory at every level of policy and implementation so that our institutions and our processes relating to children and the family properly take into account their needs. The goal is to contribute materially towards the building of a much more positive and dynamic care system that costs a good deal less than today’s.
2. What policy and how influence?
Tim Loughton, MPG’s chairman who until recently was the children and families minister, estimates that the cost to the state in 2011-2012 of failures of child-parent attachment was £45 biilion.
The idea of MPG is that policy should be built on principles learned from the world’s most recent and most expert knowledge and practice of human fundamentals – from mental health, neurology, psychology, psychiatry and, of course, Attachment Theory. Compared to policy to date, such policy and its framework would be more durable, more reassuring to us all, less subject to the whims and economics of politics, and certainly much cheaper.
Policy areas deriving from the understanding of fundamentals include, care homes, children’s homes, family courts, children and family, old people, education, mental health, health policy, prisons and offending, women and anti-terrorism.
The how of influencing includes managing parliamentary all-party groups; project management; conferences, workshops and training; contributing to reviews and consultation and converting knowledge and research into practicable proposals.
3. What business and how built?
While philanthropy and sponsorship may serve others for funds and will without doubt contribute to MPG, the group’s experience of charity, lobbying and the formation of wise policy is that sustainable independence is the most desirable state for it to aim at. It is therefore working to establish itself on a sustainable business for its long-term support. MPG’s structure is, accordingly, a charity and a mainstream trading company.
MPG director Penelope Leach has set the ball rolling by giving MPG the income of a book that she is publishing early next year with the new-model publishers Unbound about divorce from the child’s point of view.
The group intends to attract investment to develop a publishing business with associated training income that publishes assessments, initially in the fields covered by the children’s courts. Phil Shepherd, an MPG non-executive director, has given MPG exclusive use in this area of his company’s sophisticated 3-D mind mapping software.
Another area to be explored is what is increasingly called ‘serious gaming’ or ‘gaming with a purpose’.
4. What group?
Driven by Melanie Gill, a psychologist who has advised policy makers and think-tanks on the latest bio-psycho-social research underpinning all human behaviour and motivations, and led by Tim Loughton, the group has taken shape over 7 years and has now assembled expertise in start-ups, publishing, thought-processing software, communication, politics and policy innovation and in infant, child and adolescent mental health, the public care of children, child development and childcare, psychiatry, psychotherapy, attachment and neuroscience.
Taken together, this is a considerable committed and passionate core expertise to apply to the group’s aims. The group is at the forefront of disseminating the complex crucial knowledge that makes society, cultures and governments tick. The group’s short-term need is development funding.
5. The background of MPG: Organisation and Rationale
In many respects, living standards are improving, but the mental health problems of society are intensifying. This can be seen in areas such as family breakdown, problems of sexual abuse, domestic violence, poor educational standards, and child neglect.
Many voluntary and charitable groups work to influence Government on policy about these issues. Some are successful, but there are drawbacks. The groups tend to be too comfortable and there is reliance on Government financial handouts. Such groups often do not have a vision of the bigger picture and operate in familiar narrow grooves. They perform financially and socially necessary roles. But a much more dynamic and radical approach is needed to tackle society’s problems better and more completely.
MPG aims to fill this gap, while complementing and building on the good work already done.
Our core belief is that the bio-psycho-social problems plaguing society can be dealt with by concentrating effort on improving the key relationships that govern emotions and therefore behaviour between Government, society and the population, and on a more fundamental basis - the more important aspect that drives the remainder - between families, parents and their children.
MPG will function at several levels, essentially forming synergies with knowledge organisations and conduits for the dissemination of the research and that expertise that we believe have the power to change fundamentally the level of understanding of how a child develops and how society can be healthier and more stable. The principals and associates are experts from a wide variety of fields, reflecting the clear ambitious goals that MPG is working on. The intention is to make this expertise available as widely as possible.
MPG guides and shapes policy and media attitudes according to need and is not dictated to by any political ideology.
MPG will work with the professionals on the frontline in the key policy areas – such as social and children’s homes workers, and those working in the family courts - so harnessing and tapping into the expertise that can help and change those most in need of help.
MPG has a robust and substantial knowledge evidence base that gives the potential to prevent the extreme levels of misery, unhappiness and their consequences that afflict society.
With the enormous leaps forward in evidence-based research, the growing awareness of the biological, psychological and societal contributors to psychological welfare and disease, and with the growth in outcome studies and empirically-based research in the psychological and social sciences, MPG will seek to make and generate interventions and policies that will turn lives round and build a much stronger sense of community.
MPG is in the process of organising media partners and is becoming an agent to complement information dissemination activities so that it can reach as wide and populist an audience as possible. This will be through best-selling books, the internet, popular television, chat show hosts and guests, radio and other media.
The aim is to drive home the huge wealth of scientific information from world experts as well as experienced clinicians working in hands-on capacities with the most vulnerable, disadvantaged and marginalised of families.
In outline the goals are:
To disseminate and raise awareness of the enormous body of evidence-based research on human emotional wellbeing, psychological awareness and insight, and interpersonal relational health to as wide an audience as possible
- To influence attitudes and policies at personal, local, regional and national levels in an attempt to stop history repeating itself
- To make available to commissioners, providers and service custodians, politicians and public alike, a comprehensive and up-to-date knowledge base of how people and societies can be enabled to thrive
- To provide for discussion and debate, as well as for inspirational cutting-edge dialogues between professionals, organisations, policy makers, the general public and government. By this means we hope that creative linking and mutual learning will stimulate the formulation and elaboration of ways of moving forward towards far more creative and emotionally healthy ways of living than ever before
- To seek out media and policy opportunities through the conduits we have already set up.
- The overarching aim of MPG is to promote bio/psycho/social expertise to a wide audience (public, government, media), so that this knowledge and understanding can be used to bring about positive change in our society. Essentially MPG aims to be a conduit between those with the expertise and those who can apply it to good effect, and to suggest practical and cost-effective policy.
Influencing Policy Formation
- Advise on Commissions and Select Committees
- Instigate Commissions and Select Committees
- Advise individual MPs and Ministers
- Work with a cross-party group in the House of Lords.
Input into the Media
- Organise conferences aimed at media, politicians and policy makers.
It is planned in 2014 that we undertake a major conference in London bringing Allan Schore, a pioneer of attachment theory who has had a major impact in the US, to address in Parliament the UK judiciary about essential changes in family law.
MPG is also planning in association with the NSPCC a commission on child sexual abuse that will hear evidence later this year from a wide variety of experts.
- To devise ideas for broadcast including documentaries and mainstream ideas, i.e. Crime Scene Investigation and Law & Order-type series, inserts into soaps and radio programmes.
- To pitch book ideas to mass market. Change the ‘Misery’ genre to illustrate psychological issues through experts’ case histories.
As the first initiative, Penelope Leach is writing a book on the handling of divorce, the proceeds of which will go to MPG.
- MPG experts to be called on to comment on a wide range of bio/psycho/social issues on mainstream news and current affairs programmes on TV and Radio.
- Become proactive pundits, i.e. letters in newspapers signed by experts highlighting support for or failings in present policy.
Influence bio/psycho/social education:
- Gain access to organisations delivering national curriculum and degree courses: Possible entry to new humanities course for teens.
Found membership base:
- Membership base to be built of anyone working in a bio/psycho/social sphere, students, teachers, SW’s, clinicians. Establish website and newsletter.
- Alliances already with various organisations and conduits for the dissemination of knowledge:
The Centre for Emotional Development
The Child Mental Health Centre
The Children’s Clinic Brighton
Association for Infant Mental Health (www.aimh.org.uk)
International Attachment Association
The Centre for Social Justice