Open Minds Alliance CIC is a not-for-profit organisation formed to develop and deliver training packages for a range of sectors. In 2013 we joined forces with Stand to Reason, the workplace mental health charity who have delivered a number of successful workplace programmes that have had a significant measurable impact on reducing sickness and absence and improving productivity.


Dr Alys Cole-King MB, BCh, DGM, MSc, FRCPsych, Clinical Director

Dr Alys Cole-King is the first person from the UK to be awarded the Ringel Service Award from the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) for her work developing Connecting with People. She was named one of the most influential women in medicine by the Medical Women’s Journal and has been profiled in the Guardian, Lancet and the Psychiatrist in recognition of work with policy makers, medical royal colleges, people with lived experience, voluntary bodies and academics. Alys maintains a clinical and public health role within the NHS as a Consultant Liaison Psychiatrist. She promotes the need for compassion, collaboration, improved governance and promotes a common language to ensure an improved and more integrated response to people at risk of suicide. Alys has contributed to the All Party Parliamentary Group for Suicide and Self-harm Prevention and the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) Mental Health Training Advisory Group, including contributing to their curriculum.

Alys has led the development of the Connecting with People Programme and the Suicide Assessment Framework E-Tool (SAFETool). This approach is based on more than 25 years clinical experience, a thorough review of published evidence and a full-time research project using psychological autopsy technique to investigate factors relating to episodes of self-harm or suicide attempts in patients under the care of mental health teams. Alys led the development of several free resources including, 4Mental Health’s innovative free digital solution to share compassion, hope and equip people to make a Safety Plan.

Alys is a primary author of a numerous papers, book chapters, webinars, podcasts, blogs and self-help resources on suicide and self-harm prevention, Alys contributed to the RCGP e-learning module on suicide prevention, updated the BMJ Best Practice module on suicide and has delivered BMJ Masterclasses and Webinars on suicide mitigation. Alys is a reviewer for several journals and sits on two Special Interest groups for IASP. Alys works with the media (film, radio and newspapers) to ensure a safe and compassionate public health message around suicide and self-harm. She contributes via her twitter activity and has co-led several international Tweetchats.

Bob Mann, IT Director

Bob has over 20 years experience in various areas of the IT industry including software engineering, consulting and management and has worked for companies ranging from small start-ups to multinationals.
He has designed and implemented systems ranging from e-learning software for nurses to industrial control and monitoring solutions for Shell and Courtaulds, has led development teams for IBM and has provided consultancy services for a number of organisations including The Prudential, Royal Mail and Chase Manhattan Bank.

Keith Waters, Associate Trainer

Keith has over 25 years of clinical experience in self-harm and suicide prevention work. He is one of the lead trainers for Connecting with People and has contributed to the development of the programmes over a number of years.
He currently divides his time between Connecting with People and a portfolio of Healthcare related roles including: Clinical Director for Self Harm and Suicide Prevention, Centre for Research and Development, Derbyshire Health Care NHS Foundation Trust; Consultant Trainer for STORM; Developed and delivers Suicide Awareness Partnership Training (SAPT); Clinical Advisor for Suicide Prevention; East Midlands; 111 service mental health clinical advisor; Clinical Advisor to Sheffield CCG and Research lead for Derby on the multicentre monitoring study of self-harm with Manchester and Oxford Universities.
Keith’s regularly contributes to journals and is an active participant in the Psychiatric Liaison Accreditation Network and National Suicide Prevention Alliance. In 2013, He was awarded an Honorary Research Fellowship with the Derbyshire Health Care Foundation Trust’s Research Centre.
One of Keith’s last roles in the NHS was as the Suicide Prevention Manager, working across the East Midlands NHS. In this role he was able to influence and deliver the National Strategy on Suicide Prevention.

Nick Barnes, Associate Trainer

Nick brings a wealth of experience to Connecting with People as an experienced trainer and a pioneer in promoting suicide awareness. Suicide prevention training has been a particular passion in Nick’s professional life for many years. He has been involved in suicide prevention initiatives around the world,
Nick has the capability to deliver a range of suicide prevention programmes. He is a Consultant Trainer in Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) and Safe Talk®, He has also developed the Understanding Suicide (USI) one day programme, which Nick developed as founder and CEO of Suicide Safer London Community Interest Company.
Nick has trained over 4000 people through suicide prevention programmes, including: veterans, police, social workers, teachers, domestic abuse practitioners and many other specialist vocations, He is widely accredited for his experience with suicide prevention training and has worked with colleagues internationally to develop bespoke training solutions for various specialist groups.

In addition to his suicide prevention work, Nick is an experienced social welfare law specialist and training consultant, having worked with national advice agencies over many years in the fields of housing, health and social care. In his early career Nick built a track record of successful outcomes working with people in acute need, developing a reputation as a tenacious caseworker, working with integrity and passion. Today Nick retains his practice in social welfare law to continuously enhance both forensic subject knowledge and training outcomes.

Nick works with both local and national charities, housing associations and local authorities, to develop and deliver training programmes and initiatives, in a wide range of subjects.

Sharon Scottorn RMN, Associate Trainer

Sharon has had an extensive career in management, clinical practice and training spanning over 35 years. Working in the NHS and HM Prison Service, Sharon has gained vast experience working with self harm and extremely disturbed people in both the NHS and forensic settings.
Sharon was employed by HM Prison Service in the position of Safer Custody and Suicide Prevention Advisor for the West Midlands Prisons and was part of the team which rolled out the new suicide prevention procedures to prisons nationally. This included training prison and healthcare staff in self harm mitigation and mental health awareness.
Sharon left the Prison Service in 2010 to focus on providing training and consultancy in health and social care, delivering training in mental health awareness and self harm mitigation to the NHS, Criminal Justice Services and Voluntary Sector across the country.
In addition to her role as a Connecting with People Trainer, Sharon is a Consultant Trainer for STORM Skills Training CIC. Sharon continues to work part time for Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust in the post of Veteran Liaison Lead Nurse, developing services for forces veterans with mental health problems. Sharon also works for the Ministry of Justice as a Specialist Member on Mental Health Review Tribunals.

Rachael Robins, Associate Trainer

With a varied 13 year career in nursing for the NHS in North Wales, Rachael began with a strong foundation in clinical practice in both inpatient and community services, for adults with learning disabilities and mental health problems
More recently, Rachael has been instrumental in implementing through training and facilitation, several Welsh Government initiatives to improve patient safety and quality of care. Recognising a need to further influence workforce wellbeing, Rachael has created and is currently delivering bespoke workshops to improve wellbeing and team vitality.
Rachael became a Connecting with People trainer because of values and beliefs she wants to embody; those of compassion and de-stigmatisation as drivers for suicide mitigation. Rachael delivered training in the NHS and the higher education sector.

We have worked with a range of organisations including:

  • Deloitte
  • Goldman Sachs
  • KPMG
  • Herbert Smith
  • Legal & General
  • RBS
  • Watson, Farley & Williams
  • Simmons & Simmons
  • TK Maxx
  • Ernst & Young
  • Serco
  • accenture
  • FSA
  • Office of Fair Trading
  • rethink
  • HBOS
  • Weil
  • Citi
  • JP Morgan Cazenove
  • Credit Suisse
  • Department for Work and Pensions
  • K & L Gates
  • Ultrasis
  • NHS
  • Royal College of Psychiatrists
  • Royal College of General Practitioners
  • British Medical Journal
  • Macmillan Cancer Support