Young People’s Week: Castle service’s Community Mural

Richmond Fellowship’s Castle service is based in the University City of Cambridge. The service provides Supported Housing for young people between the ages of 16 and 25. It regularly gets involved in community activities including the Mill Road Winter Fair and is very active in fundraising and organising activities for people we support.

But did you know a mural, situated in one of the most cosmopolitan areas of Cambridge was created in partnership with the service?

It’s located on the city’s Mill Road bridge, the same road as the service’s office and has been a positive talking point of the area since its creation in 2006.

The artwork was designed by Sharon, a person staying at the neighbouring Youth Foyer as part of a competition. She spoke to the Cambridge News/Cambridgeshire Live website about it in 2019:

“Castle service were wanting to find a design that would adorn the Mill Road bridge and were encouraging people staying at the Youth Foyer to submit ideas.

The winning concept would be decided by a vote after all the designs were publicly exhibited, she was told.

So, inspired by the multicultural vibrancy of Mill Road, Sharon set to work with a huge, two-metre-long piece of paper and began to create her vision.

The idea, which was intended to represent both “the community of Mill Road and the wider world,” was comprised of a series of adjoining and overlapping flags, all overlaid with a line of irises.

Sharon said: “It took about three or four months for me to actually finish it.

“I was doing it every day, even on the weekends. It was my way of trying to stay afloat and not sink into depression.

“I didn’t know where I was going to go after.”

The designs were voted on, both by members of the public and residents of the Youth Foyer and the Castle Project, and Sharon’s proposal was chosen as one of the winning designs.

So, along with volunteers and residents from the Castle service and the Cambridge Youth Foyer, she set about painting the mural in the summer of 2006.

Sharon said: “We all got together and painted it. It really brought us together.

“After that, it really helped us to remain bonded. For many of us who didn’t have anywhere to go at Christmas, it was nice to have that little feeling of community and camaraderie.”

She added: “I’m extremely proud of the effort and support put in by the volunteers who helped me to create a moment so bright in my life when there was only darkness.

“This project spring-boarded me forward into where I am now.”

Follow our social media accounts on Twitter and Facebook to keep up to date with #YoungPeoplesWeek.

Recovery Focus group named in the Top 10 Most Inclusive Workplaces 2021

The Recovery Focus group, which Richmond Fellowship is part of, has come 10th out of 100 in the National Centre for Diversity’s FREDIE Awards’ Most Inclusive Workplaces Index 2021.

The National Centre for Diversity is responsible for the industry standard Investors in Diversity accreditation. Their FREDIE Awards recognise excellence from private, public and third sector organisations around Fairness, Respect, Equality, Diversity, Inclusion and Engagement (FREDIE).

Helen Edwards CBE, Chair of the Recovery Focus group said:

“This award recognises the hard work we’ve undertaken to embrace diversity, equality and inclusion across our group of charities. It also highlights the hard work of all our staff and volunteers across the Recovery Focus Group of charities – especially in what’s been a challenging year.

There is always more to do, and as a group we’re committed to continuing the work, listening to our staff and ensuring a fair and respectful workplace culture”.

Solat Chaudhry, Chief Executive at the National Centre for Diversity said:

“I send my warmest congratulations to Recovery Focus Group on successfully reaching number 10 in the Top 100 Most Inclusive Workplaces Index 2021. It’s been a challenging year and yet, it has not dented the excellent work that organisations and individuals do in promoting FREDIE best practice.

We had to have these awards this year. We could not ignore the fantastic efforts that everyone has continued doing. I congratulate everyone who works so hard day-in day-out to maintain these high standards.

Through the work of the FREDIEs we are able to build a better society, and our winners come from a wonderful cross section of private, public, education and charity sectors representing the very best.”

To find out more about working at Recovery Focus and the charities in the group, click here.

Mental Health Awareness Week – BBC News presenter Julian Worricker blog

For Mental Health Awareness Week 2021, journalist Julian Worricker has penned a personal blog exclusively for Richmond Fellowship about his experience of a friend’s battle with mental ill health.

Julian is a presenter on the BBC News channel, Radio 4 and the BBC World Service.

“I have a photo on the window ledge of my study, and each time I look up from my computer keyboard it catches my eye. It’s a close-up of a dear friend of mine…she’s leaning forward, chin resting on her hands, smiling broadly, as she so often did. I look at her sometimes when I’m in need of a bit of wise advice – she was always very good at wise advice – and occasionally I look at her with a hint of envy because she remains ever youthful while I’ve added lots of grey hairs and a few kilos since we were last able to meet in person. You can probably guess where this story is going.

This dear friend – Sue – took her own life in 1998; a shattering blow to her partner, her family, and to all those of us who knew her. It was a horrible culmination of acute mental health issues that she wrestled with over a number of years, and it’s why shining a brighter spotlight on mental health has always been important to me.

I’ve been very fortunate, in that my experience of fragile mental health has been mostly seen through the travails of others. Like everyone I’ve had my ups and downs, my good days and bad, but none of those come close to the challenges faced by people like Sue. Her normally bright and bubbly personality could be transformed in a matter of hours by her illness. The shutters would come down, there’d be a blankness to her facial expression, and whatever you tried by way of casual conversation was met with a look of tiredness, indifference and confusion. I didn’t understand why, but you could tell she didn’t either.

I feel sure that if she were alive today, she’d be able to look back with pride at an increasingly successful broadcasting career…and still forwards, too, to more of the same. She’d still love a bit of gossip about the workplace, she’d never lose sight of some of the dafter aspects of what we do for a living, and she’d still be thinking of others before she thought of herself.

So I hope Mental Health Awareness Week can reduce the numbers of stories like hers.

The global pandemic has tested all of us, and it’s probably raised the issue of mental health in the minds of people who’ve not had to think about it a great deal before. The timing, therefore, could be serendipitous. Let’s make the push for greater awareness count, and ensure that our decision makers live up to their promises on this crucial issue”. – Julian Worricker.

You can watch Julian’s introductory video to Mental Health Awareness Week at Richmond Fellowship here and follow our social media channels across the week for more Mental Health Awareness Week stories.

Radio Sparky: May Mental Health Awareness Week 2021 video special

To mark Mental Health Awareness Week 2021, we’ve a special video episode of Radio Sparky, the podcast which shines the spotlight on the excellent work happening at Richmond Fellowship services across the country.

In May’s edition, Matt Webb, Communications and Marketing Officer speaks to John from our Cambridgeshire Employment Service and Leah from Leicestershire Life Links about how they’ve been Connecting with Nature as coronavirus lockdown restrictions begin to ease.

Mental Health Awareness Week – The Old Moat Garden Centre

“I have found coming to the Old Moat during the pandemic has helped me so much – it is the one place that I feel at peace. I can focus on taking care of the plants, learn about them and be with people who are just so kind, supportive and accept me for who I am whether I’m having a good or bad day. I am truly grateful for that.” Person we support.

How much do you know about Richmond Fellowship? You might well know that we’re a national mental health charity. Or that we’ve been going for over 60 years. But did you know that one of our services supporting people’s mental health is … a garden centre? 

If you didn’t then we can think of no better time to tell you all about it. Because this week it’s Mental Health Awareness Week and the theme this year is nature.  

But our Old Moat Garden Centre and Café in Epsom isn’t simply about selling people plants to brighten up their mood and home. It’s actually a social enterprise designed to help people living with mental ill health (re-)gain important life skills.  

At any one time the Old Moat is supporting around 50 people living with mental ill health. The support is rigorous and wide ranging.  They provide the people who use the service with a safe and secure experience of working in a commercial environment, and help them to identify what support may be needed to help them meet their future plans and aspirations.

Not only that but with the help of local organisations like the Workers’ Educational Association they provide courses in subjects like, stress management, confidence building, customer service and creative arts.

It’s not surprising that the service has won a number of awards – most recently the Good Retail Awards “Community Award” for the second year running! And this Mental Health Awareness Week we wanted to particularly appreciate the work that they do – not just this week, but all year through to support people’s mental health. As they say themselves – “Helping plants AND people grow”.

We asked people we support at the Old Moat to tell us in their own words how nature has helped them this past year and we leave you with these quotes and striking examples of the Japanese haiku.

 

Probably for me it’s being able to go out with Tilly (my dog) and just detox from all the noise in the world and the stress. Just to even go out into my garden and sit with no distractions or worries and just listen to the birds and the wind in the trees and feel as if even though the world may be in panic for now I don’t have to be.”

“I have had two plants for over a year and I look forward to watering them. The outside plant is in full bloom purple colours. And the inside plant is really green but small reddish flowers are starting to come out of the plant. I’ve enjoyed watering them even though I have no idea how many times a week I’m meant to water them. I think it was Jane that told me that if they look sad water them. Thanks for the advice it’s paying off!” 

Haiku by person we support

little butterfly

sits on my finger and blinks

to show me heaven

 

a dot in the sky

sends such beautiful music

it must be a lark

 

Pom Pom Dahlia

so precisely engineered

there must be a God!

 

two mute swans lift off

each wing clipping the river

to show me rhythm

 

the Ursa Major

looks like a huge question mark

in the midnight sky

 

miniscule midges

manically hovering

invite me to dance

 

the Earth is at work

producing wonderful things 

take time to ponder

 

a slug slowly slides

along the moonlit garden

and shows me the time

 

a murder of crows

congregate on a steeple

spelling out gothic

 

the feverish flies

find the carrion flower

pulchritudinous

 

the defeated moth

attracted into the flame

teaches me hindsight

 

flashing fire-flies

on a night to remember

tell me to shine bright!

Mental Health Awareness Week 2021

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week. It’s always an important one for Richmond Fellowship, but this year even more so. 

This year’s theme for Mental Health Awareness Week is Nature, and we know that as we come out of lockdown and enforced social isolation going outside and interacting with the wider community might prove hard for many. Richmond Fellowship and the wider Recovery Focus Group will be part of the recovery journey, offering advice on dealing with social anxiety and signposting to relevant services. We will continue to speak up about the stigma surrounding mental health and encourage people to seek support should they need it. 

Not only that but many of our services already focus on the positive mental health benefits of getting outside and engaging with nature – from the Old Moat Garden Centre to residential services’ gardening programs.  

Here’s what to expect this week:

• Shining the spotlight on our services offering support that engages with nature.
• Photos from our staff that have been getting outside, remaining active and connecting with nature these past few months.
• Hearing from staff and people we support about the positive impact getting outside and immersing with nature can have on our mental health and wellbeing in a special Radio Sparky Podcast episode.
• Top tips on dealing with social anxiety as some parts of our lives return to normality from Karl at our Kirklees Employment Service.
• We will be hearing from Julian Worricker, BBC News presenter who will be talking about the importance of removing the stigma around mental health and sharing a story about how mental ill health affected a close colleague and friend.

Make sure you are following Richmond Fellowship on Twitter and like our Facebook Page to keep up with #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek.

Radio Sparky: April 2021 podcast

Listen to our latest edition of Radio Sparky, the podcast which shines the spotlight on the excellent work happening at Richmond Fellowship services across the country.

In April 2021’s edition Matt Webb, Communications and Marketing Officer speaks to Stephen Purcell, Service Manager at our Beeches 24 hour Supported Housing service in Liverpool about what it’s like working on the frontline in a service, how they’ve adapted during the coronavirus pandemic and their service’s involvement in the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch.

“We’ve done activities within the service. We’ve done the Big Garden Birdwatch for the RSPB whereby that was observing birds in your garden and recording them which the residents really enjoyed, so it was an activity that we could do within the confines of our beautiful garden here in The Beeches” – Stephen, Service Manager.

Bath, Swindon & Wiltshire IPS Employment service achieves Centre of Excellence status

Richmond Fellowship’s Bath, Swindon and Wiltshire IPS Employment service has been recognised as a high fidelity service and has once again become a recognised Centre of Excellence in IPS Employment Practice across the local Clinical Commissioning group by the Centre for Mental Health.

Following expansion with Wave 2 and 3 IPS funding, the Wiltshire service has grown from 7 staff to 19 across the Bath, Swindon and Wiltshire areas.

The team has been working to achieve a Centre of Excellence status for the 2 new services, building on the Wiltshire service’s original award 3 years ago.

Speaking to the Service Manager Mariana Law; Jan Hutchinson, lead auditor from the Centre for Mental Health said:

“Your team are a really vibrant and energetic group who are providing great examples of their work. Also your NHS colleagues are speaking very highly of them. I am impressed.

I am left with the lasting impression that Richmond Fellowship has been fabulously successful in recruiting a special group of people who have the right skills, but also the right attitude and are willing to go ‘the extra mile’ for their clients on a regular basis”.

The service has supported a total of 132 clients into paid employment from April 2020 up to February 2021 and a further 19 clients to retain their jobs during the coronavirus pandemic.

There are currently 23 Centres of Excellence in England and Bath, Swindon and Wiltshire will now be one of these.

Radio Sparky: March 2021 podcast

Listen to our latest edition of Radio Sparky, the podcast which shines the spotlight on the excellent work happening at Richmond Fellowship services across the country.

In March 2021’s edition, Matt Webb, Communications and Marketing Officer speaks to Joy Ridley for our Old Moat Garden Centre in Surrey about how the coronavirus pandemic has affected them and also finds out about their latest award. Matt also speaks to Deborah Low from Sparky’s Cafe in Blackpool about how they’ve adapted their social enterprise during the lockdowns and how they are preparing for their reopening to the public.

“The award reflects on everybody involved with the Old Moat, the whole Old Moat family. So the staff, the volunteers, the people we support and our customers. Everybody could take a bow.” – Joy, Fundraising and Events Officer, The Old Moat.

 

Community Services Week – hearing from Wiltshire Recovery & Social Inclusion

We are proud to be part of  Recovery Focus– a group of charities providing specialist support services to individuals and families living with the effects of mental ill health, drug and alcohol use, gambling and domestic abuse. This week all our partner charities are highlighting the work and impact of #OurCommunityServices across the group.  

We heard from Wiltshire RSI about what they’ve been up to and how they have responded to Covid-19 restrictions. Wiltshire RSI also shared some great testimonials from people they’ve supported as well as giving us some insight into what it’s like to work in a Community Service.

What has Wiltshire RSI been up to? 

Wiltshire RSI have been working hard to ensure their community still feel connected during lockdown. They started the Lockdown Well-Being Challenge, which included four wellbeing goals per week of the November lockdown. They focused on bringing people together on their social media pages and online social group to share their achievements and creations during lockdown. Wiltshire RSI’s online social group has grown from strength to strength in the last 12 months. They were able to enjoy some in person and virtual events whilst they could last summer, including their picnic for recovery and pop-up event at Trowbridge sensory garden. 

Wiltshire RSI have been working to support those in the community with sensory disturbances, they did this by setting up the Hearing Voices GroupThe aim of the group is to provide a safe space for people in the community who experience sensory disturbances (e.g. auditory or visual) to come together and share their experiences and coping strategies in order to provide mutual support. During the pandemic this group is one that went online and is continuing to run via Zoom 

Wiltshire RSI has also been conducting some important research that identifies what service provision is available to those in the LGBTQ+ community and how the service can improve their accessibility. Wiltshire RSI are also working to establish similar research for the BAME community and for people with Autism. This is part of an ongoing development of how the service meets the needs of its community.  

Hearing from our staff 

As part of #OurCommunityServices at Recovery Focus wwere able to hear what it’s like to work in a Community Service from a Community Link Advisor and Volunteer/Peer Support Coordinator, they also gave an insight into how Wiltshire RSI has digitally adapted to the pandemic. Check out what they had to say! 

Why do you enjoy working in our community services? What does community services mean to you?  

I enjoy working in the community services because I like making a positive impact on individuals’ lives. I like watching individuals grow in confidence and truly helping to get them back into the community. I feel that every person should be given a chance to achieve things in their lives no matter how big or small. I enjoy being able to build good relationships with service users, their families and other colleagues which enables them to get the best support tailored to them. Community Link Advisor

What does a day to day look like working in our community services?

A typical day working with Richmond Fellowship Community Service is supporting someone with their confidence, their wellbeing, helping them gain their independence backu and helping with social inclusion. Since Covid-19 restrictions have been put in place my typical day to day has changed. I am now supporting people digitally and helping them get online more. This can be by helping them get on zoom and joining online groups instead of a face-to-face groupAlthough my day to day has changed, I still support service users with their confidence and getting back into the community.” Community Link Advisor 

My current role as Peer/Volunteer Coordinator working from home within Covid-19 restrictions is very different to 12 months ago. My support and coordinating responsibilities are all carried out in “virtual 1:1” format, using audio and video platforms. Many new ideas have been developed and will be taken forward as appropriate, when “normal” operational procedures are back in place. Volunteer/Peer Support Coordinator 

What impact does your service have on the people you support and the wider community? 

I feel it has a massive impact on the people we support. We give them hope and a purpose as we help them achieve small meaningful goals that they set themselves. Our support is very service user led and we will work with them to develop their own ideas in to achievements. For example we will support someone in attending a local group and once their confidence has grown we will then step back and let them gain their independence.” Community Link Advisor 

It is a major contributing factor in clients’ mental health recovery journey. It also produces benefit for the wider community via the impact of people engaging in a widening range of community based activities.” Volunteer/Peer Support Coordinator 

How has COVID19 and lockdown restrictions changed the way you deliver your service? 

We have had to adapt to the changing restrictions in order to offer a range of support to our clients. We have had to minimise face to face appointments to stop the spread of Covid-19. This has meant that group activities, public transport and volunteering have had to be placed on hold meaning that social inclusion is decreasing, some individuals haven’t been able to socialise or make new friends. However this impact resulted in Richmond Fellowship becoming more digitally focused. I have been doing zoom calls and zoom groups with service users and Richmond Fellowship have created a fun weekly zoom social which has had a positive impact on people’s wellbeing. This is because they are able to socialise and chat to others even though they are at home.” Community Link Advisor

What has your service learnt from the pandemic and what will you continue to do as we move out of lockdown? 

We have learnt that we work well as a team. We have provided support to colleagues/friends when things have been challenging. definitely know that without the support from my colleagues I wouldn’t have been able to get through the pandemic. 
We will continue to provide a tailored support to service users and support them to increase independence and social inclusion.” Community Link Advisor 

Everyone has been affected in different ways, and virtual support is not always easy to provide. We will no doubt take the best of Covid-19 restriction procedures and blend them into post lockdown operational strategies.” Volunteer/Peer Support Coordinator 

What is to come for your community service?

“Richmond Fellowship is going through the tender process currently. Although uncertain of what is to come we do know what we will be delivering the best support we can to our clients.” Community Link Advisor 

 A new 5 year contract hopefully: Resulting from a tendering process currently in its final stages. Volunteer/Peer Support Coordinator 

Hearing from the people we support 

The work our Community Service staff have been putting in has been remarkable in ensuring communities remain connected and that we minimise social isolation. But let’s hear from the people we support about how the Wiltshire RSI service has positively impacted their lives:

 “It’s meant an awful lot. It’s like a little family of staff and friends who I know I can talk to and be honest to.  It’s helped me feel I have value and purpose.”   

 “Seeing people (like yourself) managing your mental health was important. It’s actually meeting people with lived experienced that is the key. The feeling of not being alone has helped me to accept the illness. I’m not happy about it but I think I just accept it is what it is.” 

 My support worker made a plan with me which we have both worked towards. I am now able to go out and about on my own, which I haven’t been able to do for nearly 5 years. This has really improved the quality of life. 

“My support worker made me feel like a person and with Richmond Fellowship’s support my confidence has improved and I feel more able to live a better life.”

 We are so glad to hear such positive feedback about our Wiltshire RSI Community Service! Thank you to the Wiltshire RSI team for your support in Community Services Week. Make sure you continue to follow along with the week on #OurCommunityServices and follow the social media accounts across the group! Find out more about Wiltshire RSI and how you can get in contact with them here.