Recovery Focus becomes Synergi Collaborative Centre Pledge Supporter

The Recovery Focus group, which includes Richmond Fellowship, Aquarius and DViP has become the Synergi Collaborative Centre’s Pledge Supporter.

The Synergi Collaborative Centre is a five-year national initiative, funded by Lankelly Chase, to reframe, rethink and transform the realities of ethnic inequalities in severe mental illness and multiple disadvantage.

The Centre works closely with commissioners, policymakers, and politicians, as well as public service providers such as Recovery Focus and those experiencing mental ill health, to create and deliver a vision to help eradicate ethnic inequalities in severe mental illness and their fundamental causes.

At Recovery Focus, we are only too aware of the inequalities certain groups can face in society around accessing the support they need and areas of the country where investment is needed. Being part of this new initiative means we can feed into the research being undertaken across the country and be a positive voice for change.

As senior leaders of mental health services and commissioners of mental health care, Recovery Focus will:

> Initiate fundamental service level changes to reduce ethnic inequalities in access, experience and outcomes
> Measure, monitor and report the nature and extent of ethnic inequalities and progress made
> Work in partnership with local BME communities, service users and relevant community agencies
> Provide national leadership on this critical issue
> Ensure inclusive and sustainable change in our localities and communities
> Support timely and progressive research and policy development
> Contribute to a biannual progress update as part of this Pledge.

Tracey Bell, Group Director of Performance, Quality and Innovation, said:

‘We fully support Synergi’s National Pledge to reduce ethnic inequalities in mental health systems. There is no doubt that urgent action is needed to address longstanding disparities facing people from ethnic backgrounds access mental health services.

As an organisation we’re committed to being an inclusive service provider – ensuring that every individual is treated with respect and dignity with quality of experience and outcome’.

To find out more about Synergi’s Collaborative Centre, visit https://legacy.synergicollaborativecentre.co.uk.

Richmond Fellowship joins Durham Alliance Partnership

Robert Templeton, Richmond Fellowship Director of Operations (right) alongside Area Manager Karyn Ainsley and the team.

Richmond Fellowship is proud to be part of a new partnership that will support County Durham residents with all aspects of their mental health in one go.

The all-inclusive approach of the new Durham Mental Wellbeing Alliance, which brings together 13 individual organisations, will improve access to 21 separate services, helping people to get the help they need without having to write, telephone or attend each service individually.

The alliance has been commissioned by Durham County Council and includes Richmond Fellowship’s two existing Supported Housing services in County Durham and our Floating Support service in the area as well as partners Home Group, Creative Support, If U Care Share, Mental Health Matters, St Margaret’s Centre and Waddington Street.

The new service removes the need for people to approach a number of different organisations and instead means that people can call one telephone number, a single point of access, to have their needs assessed and automatically referred to the most appropriate teams.

People will no longer have to tell their story more than once to access a wide range of free mental health, wellbeing and recovery services, including those which help with relationships, bereavement and suicide. The service will also provide support with accommodation, education and employability, as well as physical activity, befriending, finances and more.

Mental Health Alliance at the Radisson, Durham. Photo by: Silverbird Photography Emily Carey (www.silverbirdphotography.com)

70-year-old Tom Raine, from Gilesgate, is a service user turned volunteer who helped to plan the launch of the new alliance. Former engineer Tom sought support from two of the services which are part of the Durham Mental Wellbeing Alliance, before progressing to become a volunteer with both members, Waddington Street Centre and Home Group.

After several years, a heart issue forced Tom to take some time out and, like many people, he found that living with a chronic illness had a negative impact on his mental health. He turned to Waddington Street Centre again for support and after a period of recovery, was keen to get more involved in helping others to receive the help he had found beneficial.

Tom, who has always been someone who thinks of others before himself, quickly became involved with the mental health, anti-stigma and discrimination charity, Stamp it Out, where he is now a very proud trustee.

He is also an active member of the County Wide Forum, a service-user-led group which acts to support and address the concerns of people living with mental health problems. Tom said:

“I enjoy giving back to the community and have been volunteering and supporting many community projects for years. I’m pleased that the new alliance recognises the importance of involving service users in the planning and delivery of its services and am looking forward to being involved in making it easier for people to access mental health support.

Approaching services for help is a big step for a lot of people who struggle with their mental health. Reducing the number of services that someone needs to contact to get support is a fantastic move towards helping people to live better lives, without fear of stigma or having to repeat information”.

Robert Templeton, Director of Operations at Richmond Fellowship, said:

“We’re thrilled to be part of the new Durham Alliance Partnership, bringing together the expertise of our Richmond Fellowship services in the area alongside other partners in the Alliance.

The new partnership will help create a more streamlined referral pathway for those accessing support in the local area, meaning we can deliver our services to as many individuals needing mental health support in Durham as possible”.

Councillor Paul Sexton, the council’s Cabinet member for Adults and Health Services, added:

“The alliance will have huge benefits for people experiencing issues with their mental health, providing a joined-up approach which will ensure they receive the most appropriate support to meet their needs.

The collaborative approach brings together the skills, knowledge and resources of a number of providers for the benefit of people in County Durham and will provide an improved streamlined service.”

For more information or to self-refer to the service, visit www.durhammentalwellbeingalliance.org, call 0300 304 5527 or to find out more about the services Richmond Fellowship offers in the area, click here.

Volunteers Week 2022: What Being A Peer Support Volunteer Coordinator Means To Me

Our Volunteer Coordinators play a vital role in supporting those who volunteer their time to help the people we support.

As part of Volunteers Week 2022 across the Recovery Focus group of charities, Judith, Peer Support Volunteer Coordinator at Richmond Fellowship’s Wakefield service explains what the role means to her.

“I feel truly privileged to work in this role, as our volunteers are such a core feature of the support we provide here at Richmond Fellowship’s Gaslight service in Wakefield.

We are a community-based service and run several groups and drop-ins which are well attended by our members. These could not function without our amazing team of volunteers, and it is my job to recruit, train up, supervise and support.

It is really rewarding and satisfying to see someone grow in confidence and develop their skills as they become part of the volunteer team, sometimes achieving things they never thought possible. It may have started with a tentative enquiry and then an informal chat about what is involved; or it may be someone who has progressed through our 12 week 1:1 support programme and this is the next step on their recovery journey.

I match up volunteers with activities / hobbies they are interested in and if we don’t have a group that fits then we can start a new one – nothing is off limits, you just need to be creative!

Our quarterly newsletter grew out of looking at options to keep busy and engaged through lockdown and now it is a regular feature. I love the variety and challenge of this role and no two days are ever the same.

Since becoming Peer Volunteer Co-ordinator, three volunteers have returned to employment and while we never like to say goodbye, seeing them find their feet and believe in themselves again is both an encouragement and an inspiration. I am very proud to tell you that one of our volunteers recently applied for the job of Community Link Worker and we are now looking forward to welcoming him on board as a fully fledged member of staff!”

Inspired? Check out our latest vacancies today by clicking here.

Volunteers Week 2022: What Volunteering Means To Me

All this week we’re shining the spotlight on what it’s like volunteering for Richmond Fellowship as part of Volunteers Week 2022 across the Recovery Focus group of charities.

Steve, a Volunteer at one of our Northern services, has written this blog explaining how volunteering has helped him.

“I’ve been involved with Richmond Fellowship for a good few years, going back to when it was previously run by ‘Mental Health Matters’ so I’ve seen many changes.

I had been referred to their employment support scheme by the Job Centre and was then invited to attend a drop-in. I’ve got to know people over a long period of time which has helped me to build up trust and feel safe there.

Becoming a volunteer seemed a natural progression and was something I had often thought about. I found that I enjoyed helping out when I could and got a lot of satisfaction in seeing others grow in confidence and come out of their shell. This was something I could really identify with as it was difficult for me at first to talk to new people when they joined the groups and drop-ins. I found that it gave me a positive focus, something to think about other than my struggles with PTSD, anxiety and depression. It also gave me a reason to get out of bed in the morning.

A bit like riding a bike, I kept on getting back in the saddle, not that I talk about cycling much, honest(!) As the saying goes, practice makes perfect and I feel I am much more confident and at ease in this role now.

Some people may find the sense of responsibility in being a volunteer a bit daunting but for me it was a motivating factor. I didn’t let the negative thoughts take hold or convince me not to go out or do anything because others were relying on me and I didn’t want to let them down. I had a duty so could finally win that battle!

Being a volunteer has broadened my horizons and prevented me from getting stuck in my own world. I’ve made new friends, been well supported by the team and learnt a lot.

Listening to other people’s experiences has enabled me to see things from different perspectives. I don’t think this would have happened otherwise. My volunteering role began with joining the Castleford walk on a Friday morning and I’ve been doing it ever since. This progressed with attending the drop-in there and also supporting a Thursday walk.

It’s very rewarding when you feel you’ve made a difference and if I was to advise someone thinking about becoming a volunteer I’d say ‘put your toe in the water’ and  give it a try. You may already know some of the team and so it would only a small step forward in a safe and positive environment. I highly recommend it”.

Inspired? Found out more about volunteering at Richmond Fellowship here.