NHS Parliamentary Awards – MAST are shortlisted

We are pleased to announce that the Multi-Agency Support Team (MAST) has been shortlisted for this year’s NHS Parliamentary Award in the category for Excellence in Urgent and Emergency Care. The nomination recognises the team’s work at Airedale General Hospital and Bradford Royal Infirmary. 

MAST is a partnership of five VCS organisations and works with individuals who frequently present at Emergency Departments with similar issues. Each partner organisation focuses on a different specialist area, providing support around three key pressure points; mental health, alcohol use and frailty.  

By working with frequent attenders both in hospital then after discharge in the community, MAST helps enable timely discharge and lowers the risk of readmission, with the aim of reducing the pressures on Emergency Departments. 

Read MAST’s latest impact report 





MAST began delivery in 2020 and now comprises workers from Carers’ Resource, The Cellar Trust, HALE, Keighley Healthy Living and Project 6.  

As one of the MAST partners we want to acknowledge the impressive impact the team has achieved in the last 12 months and express our pride at receiving recognition from the wider sector. This nomination will help us continue to make the case for authentic partnership working and demonstrate the vital role local VCS organisations can play in providing meaningful and effective change to our communities.    

John Harrison, MAST Operational Lead said: 

“The team has been doing remarkable work during exceptional circumstances. They leave no stone unturned in ensuring that people get the support they need. Everyday I am inspired by their resilience and tenacity, this nomination is testament to their efforts” 

By working with frequent attenders, both in hospital and the community after discharge, MAST help remove barriers patients face to ongoing treatment ensure they are able to access the right support,   lowering the risk of readmission.  

Vicki Beere, CEO Project 6 said: 

“I want to acknowledge the impressive impact the team has achieved in the last 12 months and express our pride at receiving recognition from the wider sector. This nomination will help us continue to make the case for authentic partnership working and demonstrate the vital role local voluntary sector organisations can play in providing meaningful and effective change to our communities.”   

MAST were nominated by MP’s for Bradford West and Keighley Naz Shah and Robbie Moore. The winners of the NHS Parliamentary Awards will be announced at a ceremony on the 6th July 2022. 

Haven – the end of an era

Haven – the end of an era

Written by Kim Shutler, CEO, The Cellar Trust

Today marks the end of an era for The Cellar Trust as we draw our Haven crisis service to a close. It feels momentous for us because Haven was the real game changing service for us when it opened in August 2016. Lots will remember, but many will not, that before that date The Cellar Trust looked very, very different. We had one single service (Pathways to Employment), no peer support staff and the upstairs of our building was rented out for events and groups. The opportunity for transformation came along in the form of some one-off transformation funding (NHS Vanguard for those who remember it), and a tiny window of opportunity to try something new. I still remember the conversations with colleagues in BDCFT and BMDC about whether it was possible. Some of these colleagues have moved on now but it was those people who decided to take a chance on a new innovative approach and paved the way for the future.




The money was tight and the turn-around for launching was tighter… but we had the community building (ideally situated half-way between Bradford and Keighley), the volunteers and the support from local businesses. The NHS had some funding, the local authority had some staff they could realign. A mark in the sand was a shift in conversation from the traditional ‘commissioner-provider’ discussion… traditionally commissioners tell us what to do and how much money there is, we do it and then we report back every quarter. No they said… we will design this together… and we will lead it together. And that is exactly what happened.



It was our first venture into Peer Support (3 Peer Support Workers) and we created a co-located team including the BDCFT Intensive Home Treatment Team and BMDC social workers. We had to transform our building… NHS Estates telling us that there was NO WAY we could deliver what we needed to on time and on budget. Of course. we did both, and the space was beautifully kitted out with thanks to a local furniture company, with the support of Nick Smith (Missing Peace) who used his lived experience to help ensure we had the right environment for people.


We had been to see other services around the country but none were what we really needed in Bradford. We took lots of learning from others, of course, but then we made it our own. This is what we now know as ‘Act as One’ in real action… we pulled out all the stops working across services, meeting every week, looking at the data and the feedback, making constant tweaks and changes to make things work. I remember in the beginning being really worried as numbers were so low. Oh how we laugh now looking back as so quickly people got to know about our new service and the challenge became one of capacity. The service today looks so different to the service we started in 2016 but that is a credit to how the team have stayed true to our value of continuous improvement – always looking for ways to be better.

Our approach to integration – working as one team – was the thing that lead to further big changes for us as an organisation. We learnt more about the way that mental health clinical services and social care worked, we developed our governance, we trained up our team… The co-location was incredibly powerful. Cross-organisational teams lead to much learning which I believe has helped to shift the culture. Other areas of the NHS saw the power of the integration with the VCS… they also saw the immense skill of our team to manage complexity and risk, and that that could complement statutory work.

Conversations between statutory staff and peer support workers… difficult conversations to break down the stigma, to challenge terminology which has become engrained around things like personality disorder… these are the things that change cultures. We learnt the hard way too. I look back and think how little we knew then about how to do peer support well. But as we always do, we learn and we improve. We saw the power of peer support and we eventually not only moved to a whole Haven peer support team but we extended this approach to where we are 6 years later with all our Cellar front line staff recruited as peers, our own accredited peer support training, and a national reputation for our expertise in this area.

Of course, the most important thing is the difference we have been able to make through the delivery of this service which is very humbling. Consistently over the years people have told us that we provide a safe space where they feel listened to and understood. It has been the most basic of human things that we would all want for ourselves and those we love. In a short time people move from feeling that there is no hope at all; experiencing their very darkest moments to feeling like there is a possibility of something different… a brighter future. Peer support has consistently played an incredible role in this and, in fact, in our most recently client survey 96% of our clients said this was important.

There really aren’t enough words to say how proud I am of the team we have now and the teams we have had in the past. When you do jobs like this, you give your all and that can be very tough. But whatever has been going on (and we have faced a major fire and Covid), our team have pulled it out of the bag. They have left their families at weekends and over bank holidays to work every day of the year. They have done everything they could to be there for those who need us the most. I don’t feel like it is an exaggeration to say that they have changed and saved hundreds, even thousands of lives in the past 6 years. Not many people can say that and it is a very privileged position. I cannot thank them all enough.

I would also like to thank our partners and funders. It has been their support which has made all the difference. When you run services which are new, innovative and different… services which challenge the norm, it requires bravery and tenacity.

There are colleagues in the NHS and local authority who have stood by our sides all along and for that we are very grateful. These things have changed the way we do things in mental health services forever. These people are part of our team in the same way as our Cellar employees and they have laid the path for other services we now deliver such as MAST. It is easy to forget how things used to be so I am partly writing this now so that people do not forget.






We have been incredibly passionate about sharing our learning far and wide and have welcomed organisations (providers and funders) from all over the country and even from as far as Japan. We have spoken nationally alongside our BDCFT and BMDC colleagues about the power of our integrated approach and we have been recognised with awards such as the Positive Practice in Mental Health Award for Crisis and Acute Care (2018), Charity Times Cross Sector Collaboration (2019) and Locality Transforming Lives (2021.) We have also spread the ‘Haven love’ and influenced national policy through our work with the NHSE Adult Mental Health team who credited us in influencing the roll out of the most recent Crisis Alternatives funding.





And now we move into a new and exciting chapter. It is an opportunity to work with even more amazing partners (11 other charities) as we deliver the new Safe Spaces provision in the District. This will allow us to build on the wonderful work in Haven, and in the other local safe spaces (Sanctuary at Mind in Bradford and Towerhurst), extend our reach and support even more people. These services are needed more than ever so we look ahead with excitement about what is next.




Pushing yourself: when it becomes toxic positivity

Pushing yourself: when it becomes toxic positivity

Written by Melanie, our guest blogger. Want to write a blog post for us? Email us at marketing@thecellartrust.org

We live in a society where pushing yourself hard is considered something to be celebrated. “Meet your limits head on and drive through them”, we’re told. That’s all we need to do to reach some empyrean form of ourselves defined by society. The thing we all supposedly want to attain.

This mentality is championed and anyone who doesn’t subscribe to it is seen as unmotivated, even apathetic. They obviously don’t want to really reach their goals if they’re not willing to just make a concerted effort, do they?

Limit-pushing can be helpful to people, in some situations; it’s important to understand that the idea isn’t toxic in itself. It only becomes a problem when it’s expected from everyone, all of the time. Imposing this idea onto people with mental illnesses, to whom limits are often the things keeping them stable and safe, can be dangerous.

Everyone’s plate is a different size. In fact, some people’s plates shrink and grow depending on how they’re feeling at the time. I definitely fall into the latter category, as I have Bipolar Affective Disorder and Generalised Anxiety Disorder. Managing these two comorbid conditions really requires me to be constantly mindful of how much of my plate is free for tasks outside of coping with my disorders.

It takes a lot of energy to challenge the behemoths of depression, hypomania, psychosis, anxiety, and all of the other things I experience. That isn’t just mental and emotional energy, but physical too; it’s tiring. To be well, I have to make sure I take time for myself and keep a good schedule of rest, sleep, relaxation time, healthy eating.

To outsiders looking in, if I choose to go home early from an event, I might seem like a killjoy. If I decide to skip a party, I’m being anti-social. Turning down a project might seem like I’m not dedicated. What’s really happening, however, is me being protective of my boundaries. I’m always thinking about exactly just how big my plate is and how full it can be at any given time. I also have structures in my days I need to be respectful of; I have alarms to take my medication at certain times, I have other alarms to remind me to stop eating to ensure I’ve 2 hours clear before taking them. This is all part of my day that’s necessary.

As positive as it can be sometimes to push yourself that little bit more, it’s not necessary if you feel like it will be detrimental to your wellbeing.

Does this mean we as sufferers should never give ourselves a little push from time to time? Of course not. The important point is: I’m the expert in knowing what works for me, when it’s okay to push, and when to forgive myself an evening on the sofa watching cartoons and taking a nap.

I’m only my own expert through lots of trial and error. Sometimes I’ve taken myself somewhere, only to realise when I got there that I’d made a mistake. I’ll feel drained of energy, I won’t be at my best and because of that I’ll feel worse than I did in the first place. If I continue to push myself and don’t bring the portcullis down to “close for business”, it will snowball to the point I can’t control anything anymore and I’ll end up in crisis. Many times I’ve said “sure!” to taking on more work when the voice in the back of my mind is groaning with frustration at me as it’s preparing to hunker down for an almighty crash. It was the wrong decision and I always try to learn from it.

The thing is, my first instinct used to be to tell myself “I just need to get up and go, I’ll be fine when I get there”, fully subscribed to a mindset that’s drip-fed to us day in and day out from a young age. I’m sure the majority of us have been given this piece of advice at some point and it’s a very hard lesson to unlearn. There ends up being a sense of obligation and if I duck out, I’ll feel guilt. I’ll feel like I took the easy way out and didn’t make the effort I should have.

That word, “should”, is often a troublesome one. It’s a word I had to wrestle with for a while after I was first diagnosed with Bipolar Affective Disorder, as I realised it had been a stealthy enemy for a long time. Many times I’d gone somewhere, agreed to do something or taken on more work because I probably should. I began to question…who said so?

“If you don’t push yourself, who will?” quizzed a motivational message I scrolled across on social media. I feel a pang of shame before I remind myself that safeguarding my stability is more important to me than proving something to other people. By the same token, if I don’t patrol my boundary walls and protect my wellbeing, who will? There’s a definite obligation to be constantly striving to be “doing”, and those of us with mental illnesses are unwillingly cloaked under the blanket.

So how do we know when it’s time to get up and shake ourselves, and when it’s time to have a duvet day? There aren’t any hard and fast rules I can offer here, even to myself. I can’t create a checklist of which specific tasks I should and shouldn’t avoid and when; it’s too nuanced for that. It’s about feeling it. Patterns can start to emerge that we can learn from, then it’s possible to feel when it’s the right thing to give yourself a shove, or when it’s sofa time.

The guilt also continues to ease, as I remind myself of what happens when I don’t respect my illness. The memories of not being well because I didn’t listen to my brain serve as a vivid warning. I realise it’s not a choice, it’s a necessity.

Some convictions begin with roots of the most positive intentions. I’m sure there’s a well-meaning heart at the centre of the “push yourself” message; it’s designed to impress upon us the idea that we’re capable of so much more than we imagine. Sometimes though, the things we should be proud of are setting limits. For some, drawing a line in the sand takes just as much strength and courage to drag that stick with intention and purpose, as it does for someone else who’s challenge is to scuff their line out and move beyond it.