iBUG » About Us

About Us

Our history

iBUG began as a club in the summer of 2002, and was incorporated into a not-for-profit company and membership organisation on 20th June 2005. The main reason we started iBUG was to give a professional voice to people in Islington who have mental health problems, to improve the services they use and to monitor the provision of such services. iBUG can trace its origins back to the 1980's. The Waterlow Unit Patients Council was one of the first service user lead organisation in the country to have an independent service user voice. iBUG exists because of the work that the Patients Council did.

In 2006 iBUG moved to the newly built Highgate Mental Health Centre and employed Beth Bear soon after as an office administrator. It was a big step for the organisation: since then we have operated as a company and have our own office. Beth worked hard to establish a well-run office and filing system to create a properly recorded membership list and also to edit iBUG's first Newsletter.

After Beth left Edit Szarvas became the new co-ordinator and felt that the organisation had a great potential supporting people with mental health problems and could be doing much more than it was at that time. Edit created a development plan for the organisation and in conjunction with the iBUG Directors started to implement the plan. Since then iBUG has grown and it has changed. Apart from our main activities we have many other projects to promote empowerment, to support people with mental health problems and to tackle stigma. Edit was then promoted to be the Project Manager. Edit left in 2010 and the current project manager is Laura Talanti.

About us - in principles

iBUG is a unique organisation in the mental health sector: we truly understand the needs of mental health service users as all Members and Directors use or have used in the past mental health services themselves, and therefore have the expertise to identify areas for development and have insight into the issues people with mental health problems have to face daily and aim to target the roots of these problems.

Our vision

Our vision is a society where:

People with mental health issues don't have to face stigma in their daily lives and can have exactly the same opportunities as people living without these health problems. People who use or have used mental health services are respected by others and they feel included in the society.

Our mission

Our mission is to:

  • Be a channel through which mental health services users and former service users can communicate their needs and views to providers and commissioners of mental health services.
  • Promote service user participation in the monitoring, planning, development and delivery of mental health services.
  • Enhance the quality of life of mental health service users by relieving social isolation, promoting self- advocacy, tackling stigma, providing information, activities and support in order to enable persons with mental health problems to obtain their full rights, potentials and privileges as citizens.

How do we work towards our mission?

Our main activities

  • We give a professional voice to people in Islington who have mental health problems to improve the services they use.
  • We promote social contact and support for mental health service users to enable them to take control over their own lives.
  • We inform mental health service users of planned changes in mental health services to influence such changes through iBUG involvement.
  • We promote service user participation in the commissioning, development, policy and practice of mental health services.
  • We promote self advocacy and provide information for people with experience of mental ill health.
  • We actively seek the views of mental health service users about the services they use to identify gaps in the range and quality of such services to represent those views to service providers.

Our projects

The organisation has been expanding rapidly during the last couple of years. We have developed projects and we managed to secure external funding for them. We work hard towards our mission: to improve the quality of lives of people with mental health difficulties. To find out more please visit the "Our Projects" menu point.

Our values

As an organisation working for and with vulnerable people we have our values which are very important to us and we expect our members, volunteers, employees and everyone else working for and with us to respect them.

Equal opportunities

IBUG opposes all forms of unlawful and unfair discrimination.
We provide an equal opportunities environment to all our Members and other mental health service users, staff and volunteers regardless of their gender, race, ethnic origin, disability, age, nationality, national origin, sexuality, religion, marital status and social class.

We also believe that people who have or have had mental health problems in the past should have exactly the same opportunities in education, work, health services, leisure and other activities as those without the condition.

Protection of vulnerable adults

iBUG is determined that vulnerable adults should be offered the greatest protection possible from harm. Our policy is that all Directors, Employees and Patients Council Advisors are checked by the Disclosure and Barring Service and must obtain a DBS certificate before working within our organisation. 
We expect members to be well enough to perform their duties. If a member of iBUG becomes ill and therefore vulnerable, we will ask them to get support from the appropriate community care team.


We respect each other and oppose any form of disrespectful behaviour towards any of our members, staff or a mental health professional.
At meetings we respect each others views and follow the appropriate protocol.

Promoting rights and responsibilities

We believe that people with experiences of mental ill health have the right to be included in the society (work, education, politics, etc.) but they also have responsibilities like any other citizen (to pay taxes, to vote, to take social responsibilities, to protect the environment, etc.).

People with mental health issues have the responsibilities to contribute to the development of the society like anyone else.


What is empowerment?

The aims of empowerment are to increase the spiritual, political, social and economic strength of individuals and communities.

How do we implement empowerment in our work?

On the level of individuals: We believe that through empowerment people with mental health issues can achieve their full potential and we work to develop confidence in their own abilities.

On the level of our organisation: We promote the importance of service user involvement in commissioning and policy development.

NHS Islington Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust City Parochial Foundation Lottery funded Cripplegate Foundation Islington Council