'A Place to Be'—A Cut and Shut of the Brighton Unemployed Centre Families Project

A cut and shut car is apparently one of the biggest dangers to a car buyer. A cut and shut consists of two or more cars welded together. Usually, this happens when a car is damaged enough to be written off by insurers and is patched together with another car to hide the damage. Needless to say these contraptions are not especially safe and don’t run especially well. Nevertheless, we’ve decided to use the concept as a template for an academic chapter. And as we’re not going to drive this chapter anywhere at high speed, we suspect that the worst that might happen is that it reads a bit odd.

So, this is a cut and shut chapter. As such, it’s a little bit of a concept chapter, a little bit like the concept albums that progressive rock supergroups used to do in the 1970s. So, regardless of what the reader thinks, we think we can rest safe in the knowledge that Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman from Yes would admire it. The idea is that we will give you the academic material and the quotes from a standard qualitative piece of work based on the interviews in the centre above. However, this doesn’t always automatically translate into pictures of lived experiences, of key concepts playing out in often the most banal, humane, annoying and enriching ways. And so the hope is that the titular

This chapter has been co-authored by Stephen Thorpe.

© The Author(s) 2017

C. Walker et al., Building a New Community Psychology of Mental Health, DOI 10.1057/978-1-137-36099-1_8

centre will be brought a little further alive in the imaginations of our readers if we borrow a mechanism from amoral mechanics all over the country.

The following five people are people that we met on our travels at the centre. Their names have been changed but the histories, stories and the experiences below are all true. They happened outside of the research context described below and were noticed by us anecdotally in what could ambitiously be referred to as a period of (very) informal ethnography.

  • 1. Ros lives with her two children. Zane is 3 and Poppy is 5. She skipped breakfast that day because she wasn’t sure whether she’d need the food for the kids later in the week. She’s been out of work but childcare is tough so it makes sense to use the free creche at the centre. It gives her a couple of hours’ break. She has gone to the doctor recently because she’s not been feeling herself. She doesn’t know why.
  • 2. Alan helps to run a group at the centre. He came to the centre as a user years back when he was desperate and describes how the centre ‘held out a hand to him in his darkest hours.
  • 3. Sally works at the hospital. She pops into the centre on occasion for advice on things like benefits and housing. She doesn’t really use the centre much other than that but it’s always nice to see some of the old faces when she pops in. Her daughter, Tilly, is 8.
  • 4. Gary described himself as a handyman and a bit of a drifter. He’d been in Brighton for a number of years and had been coming to the centre on and offfor the best part of 8years. He described himself as being in ‘real trouble’ mental health wise, and said he had attempted suicide recently.
  • 5. Lilly was a volunteer. She’d been off work with depression for 18 months and wanted to use the centre as a way to get some volunteering experience so she could get back into work and get a reference. A lot of things about the centre pissed her off but she needed it at this point in her life.
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