National Personality Disorder
Development Programme












(Support, Training and Recovery System)


 What is TVI?

The Thames Valley Initiative is one of eleven national pilot projects supported by the National Institute for Mental Health in England (NIMHE) to deliver innovative, effective and user-friendly services for those diagnosable with “Personality Disorder”.

The Thames Valley Initiative provides services in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire.  Services are provided by the relevant Mental Health Trust, in close collaboration with local partners, particularly the voluntary sector. 

The services aim to help people face their difficulties and find new ways of coping.  People who have already used our services are employed by us to help ensure that what we offer is relevant and accessible. The services are divided into four ‘tiers’, all of which operate as therapeutic communities:

Tier I – pre therapy ‘options’ groups held weekly in locations around the counties

Tier II – intensive group programme also held weekly in locations around the counties

Tier III – intensive day programme held daily in central locations (Reading, Oxford and Aylesbury)

Tier IV – weekly group to offer support after treatment (not yet in full operation)

Over arching the clinical services is the Training, Research and Recovery Team (TRRT).  This team co-ordinates the STARS group and offers training opportunities (of varying lengths) to both the statutory and voluntary sector with the aim of educating as many professionals as possible to the idea that PD is treatable.. 


What are STARS?

What does STARS stand for?
Support, Training and Recovery System – the team of ex-service users and experts by experience (ex-service users formally employed by TVI to work in groups)

When and where do they meet?
They meet monthly, on the first Friday of the month from 1.00 – 5.00pm, at RISC, London Street in Reading town centre.

Who will be there?
The group currently comprises mostly ex-Winterbourne Therapeutic Community members who have had a gap of at least 6 months after a planned leaving (sometimes a very long gap so don’t worry if you feel that you are an old timer).  As more people leave the therapy groups across Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire we hope that our membership will come to truly represent the three counties.  There will also be members of the Thames Valley Initiative, Training, Research and Recovery Team (TRRT) at the meetings.

What if someone wants to join but haven’t been a member of a Therapeutic Community?
We recognise that there may be people who have relevant life experience and an interest in this work but who have experienced a different therapeutic path.  It could be possible for these individuals to have an active involvement in STARS if they have completed a recognised treatment.  We feel that this is important so that people are able to work in an objective way.

If you, or someone you know, are interested, or would like more information  e.g. ‘What is a recognised treatment?’ or have questions such as  ‘I have finished treatment but am back in therapy again now’, please feel free to contact us and we will talk it through with you.

What happens at the meetings?
The meeting starts with social time over a sandwich lunch followed by a review of the last months’ activities. Some months visitors come and talk about their work and find out what we do; some months there will be training opportunities; some months we discuss particular pertinent issues and lots more as and when it occurs.

What sort of ‘work’ do STARS do?
Bits of all sorts!!  Roleplays, vignettes, question and answer sessions, attendance of meetings, and there’s opportunities to help with clinical work too.

I feel really unsure about doing this
Come along and get to know us – you will then realise that all we ask is that we value your experiences and how you can help others by sharing them.  So you just need to be yourself, no qualifications are necessary!

Who decides who does what ?
A list of requests for STARS input is circulated and explained at each meeting; each member can choose what they want to volunteer for (this can be as much or as little as each person feels comfortable with).  There is no pressure and new members are encouraged to ‘tag along’ with an ‘old hand’ to ‘learn the ropes’. 

What’s in it for me?
There is payment available (see p 8) and travel expenses are covered. There may also be training opportunities for you to take up.  It can be fun and a chance to do

Will this affect my benefits?
We are not experts on the benefit systems but believe that you will be able to earn a variable amount without affecting your benefits, depending on the benefit you are claiming.  It is your responsibility to check your own circumstances and your earnings limits with the Benefits Agency.  

Do I have to make a commitment?
If you choose to participate in events, you need to adhere to the terms and conditions (P6) and we ask that you come to the monthly meetings when possible.  This is to enable you to get support and ensures that the whole system is managed in a safe way.

There is an expectation that people will write a little about any event that they have participated in. This doesn’t have to be too onerous, just a few words, maybe written as a group, so we can keep a record of what people have done and what the experience was like (Sue even offers to type this up for people if they are not too nifty on the old keyboard!)

What sorts of events have people been involved with?
Lead reviewer training with the Community of Communities; service user leadership course run by a local and national organisations; attendance at conferences in Cardiff, Belfast, Athens; training courses in London and Carlisle and lots of local events in Berks, Bucks and Oxon etc  
Currently Thames Valley Initiative is running a year long course Personality disorder: People and Pathology in Oxford in which STARS members are an integral part.  This course is for people from all a wide variety of areas both statutory and voluntary sectors.

What support is available?
Support is available by phone or from other members of the group – rather like the TC support system.  Staff members from the Thames Valley Initiative will also be at the meetings. Members also have a responsibility for their own health and well-being (if you are having a particularly bad time it may be sensible to have a break for a while).


By undertaking work as part of the Thames Valley Initiative, I agree to the following terms:-

 The Training, Research and Recovery Team will decide what work the group can undertake.  All requests for work must first be submitted to a member of the team to discuss its suitability and validity to the project, before being allocated.

 A record of the work must be kept and members may be asked to write a brief account of the work that they have been involved in.

 Members of the group are expected to feedback to the TRRT team any information that is relevant to the organisation e.g. outcomes of meetings, feedback from presentations and further requests for input.

 It is expected that members of the group attend a monthly meeting where support and supervision will be offered and opportunities to become involved will be discussed (this meeting will be unpaid, but expenses and lunch will be provided.)

 In circumstances where it is not possible to attend this meeting it would be expected that the member contact Sue Robinson to make other arrangements.

 When undertaking work members are expected to behave in a responsible way, this includes: -

·         Respecting confidentiality,

·         Respecting each other, and the people we are working with.

·         Letting the TRRT team know ASAP if the member can no longer attend the session so alternative arrangements can be made.

·         Submitting invoices promptly with appropriate receipts. (We may not be able to honour claims made more than 3 months after an event)

·         Letting a member of the TRRT team know of any problems that have arisen as soon as possible so they can be addressed.

·         Taking support when necessary.

·         Informing the Department of Work and Pensions of the work that you are doing, where relevant.


TRRT team:

Dr Rex Haigh  or 07768 546963

Clare Stafford or 07917 132609

Fiona Blyth     or 07717 875624

Yolande Hadden or 07789 615163

Sheena Money or 07789 615170

Sue Robinson  or 07815 902049


Click here for Travel claim form

Click here for Expenses claim form



 NIMHE          National Institute for Mental Health in England

 TVI               Thames Valley Initiative the pilot project developing PD services across Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire)

STARS           Support, Training and Recovery System

TRRT            Training Research and Recovery Team (team within the Thames Valley Initiative)

PD               Personality disorder

TC               Therapeutic Community

XSU              Ex –service user – someone who had been out of therapy for six months or more

XBX              Expert by experience – someone employed by TVI with a contract.  They will have been out of therapy for at least one year.




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