Radio Sparky – Working Together Week Podcast

Welcome to the latest edition of Radio Sparky, the podcast which shines the spotlight on the excellent work happening at Richmond Fellowship.

To mark Working Together Week across the Recovery Focus group of charities, Communications and Marketing Officer Matt Webb speaks to James Dominiak, Service Manager at Richmond Fellowship’s 24 hour Supported Housing Service in Stowmarket, Suffolk and Matt and Jordan who use the service about how they’ve embedded co-production in their service at local level.

“I’ve been involved with interview processes for staff, discussions around co-production and policy making. I was able to stand shoulder to shoulder with staff”. – Matt, person we support.

Radio Sparky – Working Together Week Podcast

Welcome to the latest edition of Radio Sparky, the podcast which shines the spotlight on the excellent work happening at Richmond Fellowship.

To mark Working Together Week across the Recovery Focus group of charities, Communications and Marketing Officer Matt Webb speaks to James Dominiak, Service Manager at Richmond Fellowship’s 24 hour Supported Housing Service in Stowmarket, Suffolk and Matt and Jordan who use the service about how they’ve embedded co-production in their service at local level.

“I’ve been involved with interview processes for staff, discussions around co-production and policy making. I was able to stand shoulder to shoulder with staff”. – Matt, person we support.

Post lockdown tour of our services

World Mental Health Day (10 October) is the international day for global mental health awareness, education, and advocacy against social stigma.  This year’s theme is “Mental Health for All”, and we are sharing stories of people that we support that show how important that is. Maggs, a person we support living in one of our 24 hour community support services, shares her story of moving from the criminal justice system into our services.

Hi! My name is Maggs and I would like to share the highs and lows of my discharge from hospital into 24hr support in the community. Before this, I spent ten years in various hospitals around the country. I think I should start from the beginning: I have been in a very low and difficult place for a long time. In 2010 I was in a place I didn’t think I could escape. My family could also see the darkness of that place in my eyes. Ten years on I can now finally accept how mentally and physically poorly I was.

Over the last ten years I have spent time in prison (for my own safety and to give the courts time to be able to apply a 37 hospital order). Once I had that order, I went to my first hospital not expecting that I would be going into a further three hospitals after that.

After being in the hospital, I gained a lot of confidence and accepted the person I used to be.

I was discharged from hospital into the community within a 24hr support housing service. This was alongside another lady who had been in the same hospital as me, so it was good to know someone who lived there too. There were also ten men who lived at the house; however this didn’t affect me even though I have a bad history with men. To be fair they were a good laugh! Eventually my friend moved in to her own flat with support from staff. It was sad to see her go but I was also so happy for her as she had worked hard to get her own flat.

I found it hard after she left, because all I was listening to were ten men bantering, swearing and being inappropriate with what they were saying and the manner they were saying it in. But now when I look back on this I know we all were struggling with mental health problems and everyone deals with these issues in so many different ways.

I know it wasn’t down to the individuals in the house that I had relapsed again, it was because I had put high expectations on myself to mend people who were struggling too.

At this point, I didn’t feel as confident as I had when I left hospital but that was because I wanted to fulfil my dreams of helping others who have been in the same position as me. I thought that if I could help anyone who is struggling with their mental health in any way shape or form, I would be fulfilled. While all this was going on, I had family back home who had been in a bad place too due to watching their own mum try to take her own life so many times. I loved them so so much but I knew that I was in the way of them following their dreams too. So, as I said at the beginning, I was admitted to a further three hospitals over the next five years.

I was at my last hospital for nearly two years and during this stay I developed many skills. These skills were then tested to their limits because I wanted to be a mum, a grandma and be with my family more than I had been. I questioned what would help me find the true Maggs underneath all the heartbreak over the years, and how I would make sense of the last ten years. I really valued the skills I learned during DBT, and I still use them to this day.

So, moving into the community was exciting, happy, scary and emotional for me. I was moving back home to my family, and I was excited as I was able to be a mum again and felt so lucky to be a grandma to seven gorgeous grandchildren. I wasn’t the only person who was emotional about moving into the community, my family were too. They had been waiting for this day for a long time.

Due to Covid-19 I was unable to see the property I was moving to. Two of the staff visited before lockdown to assess me for the accommodation and I was accepted. When I realised I wouldn’t be able to see where I was moving to, I judged the staff that came to visit me who were really lovely and approachable. I felt that I would be okay just to move in. I think my thoughts were to push myself that bit further because I knew I was so far away from the Maggs I was in 2010.

I had also met my care coordinator Kevin and my social worker Lydia. They were both so lovely and approachable too, I knew this was something big and such a positive and an amazing move waiting for me to grab with both hands.

World Mental Health Day – Kelechi’s story

World Mental Health Day (10 October) is the international day for global mental health awareness, education, and advocacy against social stigma. This year’s theme is “Mental Health for All”, and we are sharing stories of people that we support that show how important that is. Kelechi Chioba, a person supported by Richmond Fellowship, tells us her story about battling mental ill health as a Black, LGBTIQA+, disabled woman who is also a survivor of domestic abuse.

I had a mental health disorder and polio when I was younger which means I have to use a wheelchair. Before my relapse I was a very active public speaker and activist. I travelled the country giving talks, training and meetings at universities. As a bi-sexual Black woman I spoke about a range of subjects including domestic abuse, LGBTQ+ identity, having a disability and feminism. I wanted to make a change as a domestic abuse survivor. I also talk about encouraging diversity in leadership.

It was after my hysterectomy that I broke down again. I felt down and hated giving talks, writing and my life. I used to love this.

In the Black community they have a myth – “Mental health is the white man’s disease”. There is no halfway. If you have mental health issues you must be mad. As a Black woman there is an expectation to be strong. You cannot be seen as weak and must keep your dignity. You may be dying inside but you can’t show it. In my church people would not sit next to me because of sexuality. When I experience racism in the UK I just want to run to the protection of the Black community but I am rejected because of my sexuality. I have no one to lean on. I am stuck in the middle of two worlds. This had a huge impact on my mental health. A mixture of culture, religion and beliefs all impacts me. Once, when I was sectioned and receiving treatment, a Black mental health nurse said “why are you here? If you are a believer in Christ you should not be here.” It is also hard to access support.

Sometimes you go to see an expert and there is no one from your community you can see who would understand your situation. You can’t just walk in and expect to be believed. It is a double punishment.

Eventually, I saw a psychiatrist who referred me to counselling. When I refused counselling, the doctor gave me Richmond Fellowship’s number. When I first started sessions with my recovery worker we made a checklist. We ticked off how I felt so I could visualize where I was mentally. We spoke every week. Before I relapsed, I was confident speaking to groups. Now I was scared of seeing people. So we focused on anxiety management and building confidence. Once I called my recovery worker and said I had trouble sleeping so we focused on sleep management. I was always listened to and could make decisions myself. We tailored the sessions to what I had experienced that week. This is something I really liked.

I didn’t feel seeing my recovery worker was working at first. I now realise it was having an impact within me. I started to find my passion again. It did not come all at once. It came little by little. I remember telling my recovery worker I am ready to give talks again. Everyone was so happy for me and so was I.

I came to Richmond Fellowship to get my passion back. I wanted to put my life back together and pick myself up. When I first came I said “I just want to get better. I want to know how to get a grip with managing my mental health”.

I now want to make a change. My life is hard. I am in a wheelchair and the discrimination and stereotypes are too much. I want to fix this world and encourage inclusivity in the community, government and in legislation. I want everyone to be equal and then I will be happy. This is why I go to give talks. I want to tell others to be proud of who and what you are. This is key for your mental health and you should always seek help if you need.

If you want to find out more about Kelechi and her recovery journey, please search her name on

World Mental Health Day – Leaving Hospital After Ten Years

World Mental Health Day (10 October) is the international day for global mental health awareness, education, and advocacy against social stigma.  This year’s theme is “Mental Health for All”, and we are sharing stories of people that we support that show how important that is. Maggs, a person we support living in one of our 24 hour community support services, shares her story of moving from the criminal justice system into our services.

Hi! My name is Maggs and I would like to share the highs and lows of my discharge from hospital into 24hr support in the community. Before this, I spent ten years in various hospitals around the country. I think I should start from the beginning: I have been in a very low and difficult place for a long time. In 2010 I was in a place I didn’t think I could escape. My family could also see the darkness of that place in my eyes. Ten years on I can now finally accept how mentally and physically poorly I was.

Over the last ten years I have spent time in prison (for my own safety and to give the courts time to be able to apply a 37 hospital order). Once I had that order, I went to my first hospital not expecting that I would be going into a further three hospitals after that.

After being in the hospital, I gained a lot of confidence and accepted the person I used to be.

I was discharged from hospital into the community within a 24hr support housing service. This was alongside another lady who had been in the same hospital as me, so it was good to know someone who lived there too. There were also ten men who lived at the house; however this didn’t affect me even though I have a bad history with men. To be fair they were a good laugh! Eventually my friend moved in to her own flat with support from staff. It was sad to see her go but I was also so happy for her as she had worked hard to get her own flat.

I found it hard after she left, because all I was listening to were ten men bantering, swearing and being inappropriate with what they were saying and the manner they were saying it in. But now when I look back on this I know we all were struggling with mental health problems and everyone deals with these issues in so many different ways.

I know it wasn’t down to the individuals in the house that I had relapsed again, it was because I had put high expectations on myself to mend people who were struggling too.

At this point, I didn’t feel as confident as I had when I left hospital but that was because I wanted to fulfil my dreams of helping others who have been in the same position as me. I thought that if I could help anyone who is struggling with their mental health in any way shape or form, I would be fulfilled. While all this was going on, I had family back home who had been in a bad place too due to watching their own mum try to take her own life so many times. I loved them so so much but I knew that I was in the way of them following their dreams too. So, as I said at the beginning, I was admitted to a further three hospitals over the next five years.

I was at my last hospital for nearly two years and during this stay I developed many skills. These skills were then tested to their limits because I wanted to be a mum, a grandma and be with my family more than I had been. I questioned what would help me find the true Maggs underneath all the heartbreak over the years, and how I would make sense of the last ten years. I really valued the skills I learned during DBT, and I still use them to this day.

So, moving into the community was exciting, happy, scary and emotional for me. I was moving back home to my family, and I was excited as I was able to be a mum again and felt so lucky to be a grandma to seven gorgeous grandchildren. I wasn’t the only person who was emotional about moving into the community, my family were too. They had been waiting for this day for a long time.

Due to Covid-19 I was unable to see the property I was moving to. Two of the staff visited before lockdown to assess me for the accommodation and I was accepted. When I realised I wouldn’t be able to see where I was moving to, I judged the staff that came to visit me who were really lovely and approachable. I felt that I would be okay just to move in. I think my thoughts were to push myself that bit further because I knew I was so far away from the Maggs I was in 2010.

I had also met my care coordinator Kevin and my social worker Lydia. They were both so lovely and approachable too, I knew this was something big and such a positive and an amazing move waiting for me to grab with both hands.

World Mental Health Day – Kelechi’s story

World Mental Health Day (10 October) is the international day for global mental health awareness, education, and advocacy against social stigma. This year’s theme is “Mental Health for All”, and we are sharing stories of people that we support that show how important that is. Kelechi Chioba, a person supported by Richmond Fellowship, tells us her story about battling mental ill health as a Black, LGBTIQA+, disabled woman who is also a survivor of domestic abuse.

I had a mental health disorder and polio when I was younger which means I have to use a wheelchair. Before my relapse I was a very active public speaker and activist. I travelled the country giving talks, training and meetings at universities. As a bi-sexual Black woman I spoke about a range of subjects including domestic abuse, LGBTQ+ identity, having a disability and feminism. I wanted to make a change as a domestic abuse survivor. I also talk about encouraging diversity in leadership.

It was after my hysterectomy that I broke down again. I felt down and hated giving talks, writing and my life. I used to love this.

In the Black community they have a myth – “Mental health is the white man’s disease”. There is no halfway. If you have mental health issues you must be mad. As a Black woman there is an expectation to be strong. You cannot be seen as weak and must keep your dignity. You may be dying inside but you can’t show it. In my church people would not sit next to me because of sexuality. When I experience racism in the UK I just want to run to the protection of the Black community but I am rejected because of my sexuality. I have no one to lean on. I am stuck in the middle of two worlds. This had a huge impact on my mental health. A mixture of culture, religion and beliefs all impacts me. Once, when I was sectioned and receiving treatment, a Black mental health nurse said “why are you here? If you are a believer in Christ you should not be here.” It is also hard to access support.

Sometimes you go to see an expert and there is no one from your community you can see who would understand your situation. You can’t just walk in and expect to be believed. It is a double punishment.

Eventually, I saw a psychiatrist who referred me to counselling. When I refused counselling, the doctor gave me Richmond Fellowship’s number. When I first started sessions with my recovery worker we made a checklist. We ticked off how I felt so I could visualize where I was mentally. We spoke every week. Before I relapsed, I was confident speaking to groups. Now I was scared of seeing people. So we focused on anxiety management and building confidence. Once I called my recovery worker and said I had trouble sleeping so we focused on sleep management. I was always listened to and could make decisions myself. We tailored the sessions to what I had experienced that week. This is something I really liked.

I didn’t feel seeing my recovery worker was working at first. I now realise it was having an impact within me. I started to find my passion again. It did not come all at once. It came little by little. I remember telling my recovery worker I am ready to give talks again. Everyone was so happy for me and so was I.

I came to Richmond Fellowship to get my passion back. I wanted to put my life back together and pick myself up. When I first came I said “I just want to get better. I want to know how to get a grip with managing my mental health”.

I now want to make a change. My life is hard. I am in a wheelchair and the discrimination and stereotypes are too much. I want to fix this world and encourage inclusivity in the community, government and in legislation. I want everyone to be equal and then I will be happy. This is why I go to give talks. I want to tell others to be proud of who and what you are. This is key for your mental health and you should always seek help if you need.

If you want to find out more about Kelechi and her recovery journey, please search her name on YouTube.

A day in the life of a Recovery Work – Apply today

Right now, we are looking for someone like you to join our team in Northampton where we support people with learning disabilities, autism and mental health problems. Are you caring and compassionate? Looking for a role where you can make a real difference to people’s lives every day? Welcome to Richmond Fellowship as a Recovery Worker. In this blog post, we take you through the day in the life of a recovery worker.

A typical day at Richmond Fellowship? To be honest, there isn’t one. One of the best things about this job is the variety. When you are arriving for your shift you are never sure what is going to happen. One day you will be helping people develop the skills to live independently, the next you could be interacting with healthcare professionals developing their care plan or maybe you will gain further qualifications through Richmond Fellowship’s training scheme.

To start the day the team meets for a handover from the previous shift. This is an opportunity to talk about plans for the day, which person you will focus your time on and sharing out tasks. The handover paperwork is completed to make sure we don’t forget anything. We’re commissioned to provide these services and our commissioners have expectations. We must keep records making sure the building is a safe place to live and work. These tasks are built into the shift leaving plenty of time for getting out and about with the people we support. Then it is off to see if anyone needs a hand to get up, washed, dressed, and ready for the day.

Once breakfast is finished it is time to plan the day. Each person has a set of life goals and it is the job of a recovery worker to encourage them to work towards those goals. For example, someone may have a goal to find a relationship. We break down that goal into smaller, manageable chunks. To meet someone special they may need to join groups and activities. With that in mind, you would spend time together searching out groups of interest and building up their confidence to attend. It is easy to see how each day can contribute to achieving that long term goal.

This job is all about supporting people to do things their way. It would be easy to give people a list of local activities but that takes away from helping someone learn how to search and find activities and events that suit them and their interests. That can all take time and it must be done at a pace to suit the person or the journey to becoming more independent is interrupted. Bringing ideas and suggestions for the people who live at the service creates a real buzz when we find something new to try.

You don’t need to have loads of experience of recovery work or of learning disabilities, autism or mental ill health to be good at this job. Richmond Fellowship provides a lot of training to develop the technical knowledge but this job is all about building relationships with the people who live in the house and your colleagues. If you have the basic values of kindness, patience and compassion everything else can be learned.
There may be appointments to arrange and attend. There are often visits from other professionals who are involved in people’s lives such as care coordinators, nurses or psychiatrists. You will talk with them and the person you support to develop their care plan or take the next step on their recovery journey. There are families and friends to spend time with. You will need good communication skills and a positive attitude to meet all these people. This job is all about providing as much or as little support as needed to make sure that people are living the life they choose.

The end of the day tends to be focused on preparing for bed and encouraging good sleep. Sleep is an essential part of being well for everyone and developing healthy sleep routine is a great way to get the best out of the next day. After you leave you can do some shopping with the exclusive discounts for Richmond Fellowship employees or maybe cycle home on the bike provided by our cycle to work scheme.

It can be a demanding and full-on job. It requires a lot of energy to stay motivated and energetic even when people are lethargic and disengaged. You won’t be on your own. Richmond Fellowship is a team and there is a lot of support for this role including training, monthly supervision with your manager, and team meetings. There is a staff council so you know you’re views will be heard at the top. It is essential to make good use of all of these tools to keep your batteries charged and the ideas flowing.

Apply for the job today here.

A day in the life of a Recovery Work – Apply today

Right now, we are looking for someone like you to join our team in Northampton where we support people with learning disabilities, autism and mental health problems. Are you caring and compassionate? Looking for a role where you can make a real difference to people’s lives every day? Welcome to Richmond Fellowship as a Recovery Worker. In this blog post, we take you through the day in the life of a recovery worker.

A typical day at Richmond Fellowship? To be honest, there isn’t one. One of the best things about this job is the variety. When you are arriving for your shift you are never sure what is going to happen. One day you will be helping people develop the skills to live independently, the next you could be interacting with healthcare professionals developing their care plan or maybe you will gain further qualifications through Richmond Fellowship’s training scheme.

To start the day the team meets for a handover from the previous shift. This is an opportunity to talk about plans for the day, which person you will focus your time on and sharing out tasks. The handover paperwork is completed to make sure we don’t forget anything. We’re commissioned to provide these services and our commissioners have expectations. We must keep records making sure the building is a safe place to live and work. These tasks are built into the shift leaving plenty of time for getting out and about with the people we support. Then it is off to see if anyone needs a hand to get up, washed, dressed, and ready for the day.

Once breakfast is finished it is time to plan the day. Each person has a set of life goals and it is the job of a recovery worker to encourage them to work towards those goals. For example, someone may have a goal to find a relationship. We break down that goal into smaller, manageable chunks. To meet someone special they may need to join groups and activities. With that in mind, you would spend time together searching out groups of interest and building up their confidence to attend. It is easy to see how each day can contribute to achieving that long term goal.

This job is all about supporting people to do things their way. It would be easy to give people a list of local activities but that takes away from helping someone learn how to search and find activities and events that suit them and their interests. That can all take time and it must be done at a pace to suit the person or the journey to becoming more independent is interrupted. Bringing ideas and suggestions for the people who live at the service creates a real buzz when we find something new to try.

You don’t need to have loads of experience of recovery work or of learning disabilities, autism or mental ill health to be good at this job. Richmond Fellowship provides a lot of training to develop the technical knowledge but this job is all about building relationships with the people who live in the house and your colleagues. If you have the basic values of kindness, patience and compassion everything else can be learned.
There may be appointments to arrange and attend. There are often visits from other professionals who are involved in people’s lives such as care coordinators, nurses or psychiatrists. You will talk with them and the person you support to develop their care plan or take the next step on their recovery journey. There are families and friends to spend time with. You will need good communication skills and a positive attitude to meet all these people. This job is all about providing as much or as little support as needed to make sure that people are living the life they choose.

The end of the day tends to be focused on preparing for bed and encouraging good sleep. Sleep is an essential part of being well for everyone and developing healthy sleep routine is a great way to get the best out of the next day. After you leave you can do some shopping with the exclusive discounts for Richmond Fellowship employees or maybe cycle home on the bike provided by our cycle to work scheme.

It can be a demanding and full-on job. It requires a lot of energy to stay motivated and energetic even when people are lethargic and disengaged. You won’t be on your own. Richmond Fellowship is a team and there is a lot of support for this role including training, monthly supervision with your manager, and team meetings. There is a staff council so you know you’re views will be heard at the top. It is essential to make good use of all of these tools to keep your batteries charged and the ideas flowing.