World Mental Health Day 2021

This World Mental Health Day, with the theme “mental health in an unequal world”, we consider geographic inequities in mental health support, how the pandemic is exacerbating them and what we need to be doing about it.

In a crisis

We’ve all seen this coming. We knew the pandemic was going to intensify existing needs and create new ones. Great mental health support has never been more needed. Yet we are heading for a situation where people will need to be more unwell than ever to access the support they need, when they need it.  According to the Centre for Mental Health: “the equivalent of 8.5 million adults and 1.5 million children and young people will require mental health support as a direct impact of the pandemic during the next three to five years. The total increase in demand is around 10 million people. The predicted levels of demand are two to three times that of current NHS mental health capacity within a 3 – 5-year window.”

We know this will horrifically impact so many people – especially those experiencing a mental health crisis. We are already seeing that from our own work – with a marked increase in referrals to our crisis support services from pre-pandemic in 2019 to 2021. To put this into context – between January and March 2019 we received 368 referrals, 396 in that same period in 2020, but 570 in 2021. This equates to an increase of 7% from 2019 to 2020, and then a 43.9% increase comparing the same periods in 2020 and 2021.

It is clear that if we’re seeing more people in crisis, we need to have the right services to support them. As we’ve said before, presenting at A&E can’t be the only option available to someone experiencing a mental health crisis. And the NHS, now more than ever, needs to prevent unnecessary hospital admissions and delayed discharges for mental ill-health. Alternative crisis provision, provided in partnership with the NHS, is going to be needed even more in the months and years ahead.

We have been pioneering crisis services for over 17 years – and we’re on course to open our 10th and 11th Crisis Houses this year. These will be Crisis Houses like our Oak House service in Central Lancashire – a safe and welcoming home for up to six people. Someone in crisis will be referred to us by the local Home Treatment Team – and come and stay for between 7 – 14 days. They’ll have their own ensuite room, and work with us to develop their own tailored support package. We pride ourselves on the quality of our accommodation as well as the quality of our support – and our non-clinical crisis bed costs as little as £171/night compared to an average of £406 for a hospital bed, which can rise to £561/night if an Out of Area Placement.

We believe that everyone in England should have the right to access alternative crisis provision like this in their local community – yet right now this sort of provision is patchy at best. People in crisis should not be facing a postcode lottery for support, nor face being sent far away from friends and family

Jobs, homes, friends

Looking at the mental health landscape ahead, we know it’s not going to just be about supporting people in crisis. We’re facing up to a volatile economic and employment situation – and all the uncertainty that will come with it.  Supporting people with mental health needs to stay in and access jobs is a key tenet of our work – and we know that specialist employment services are going to be very necessary in the post-pandemic world.

The NHS Long Term Plan already recognised the importance of models like Individual Placement and Support (IPS) – and we wholeheartedly support this. As the NHS says “it is the best evidence-based approach to help people get and keep a paid job.” Staff in our IPS services (we currently run 11, all in the south of England) meet regularly with the people referred to us to provide support with looking for employment, developing a detailed work preference profile to ensure the work is suited to the individual. Those using the service will receive support and guidance on how and where to look for jobs, help writing effective CVs, cover letters and applications and help to get through interviews. They receive confidential advice on how to disclose health matters, when and how best to do it.

However again we see geographic inequities – with IPS services still at the large-scale trial and pilot stage. At a point where we know we’re going to see more people with mental health needs affecting their employment and job prospects, we need to keep the pressure up for services like these to continue to be invested in and at scale.

This World Mental Health Day we’ve focussed on two areas of our work where we fear inequities, especially geographic ones, could have the biggest impact.  But finally, as a charity that began in supported housing over 60 years ago, we’d never miss the opportunity to reiterate the importance of safe, stable and secure housing in the face of mounting mental health needs.

We offer nearly a thousand residential placements for people across the country – ranging from housing support to help people manage their own tenancies, to supported housing and registered care homes. We know that a stable home is essential for people to have the security to regain positive mental health. However pressurised NHS provision means that in many areas people are stuck in hospital beds, and not being proactively moved from hospital into settled accommodation.

Ultimately we’d like to see, and want to help, more effective pathways of support. Ones that make the most of partnership working and the skills and expertise of the charity sector. We know what best practice can look like – let’s use this World Mental Health Day to keep the pressure up for it to happen on an ambitious and national scale.

Hearing from Stephen, Service Manager at Beeches Supported Housing

This week at Richmond Fellowship we are shining a light on our Supported Housing services. Supported housing is where we started over 60 years ago. We now have a wide range of mental health services but continue to pioneer and develop our supported housing services. Our supported housing provides people with a real home as well as access to support from Richmond Fellowship’s team of highly trained recovery worker.

Today we are hearing from Stephen, Service Manager at Beeches Supported Housing in Liverpool. ‘The Beeches’ has been supporting people with mental ill health for over 30 years. So, what’s it like in one of Richmond Fellowship’s longest running Supported Housing services? We spoke with Stephen to find out!

Why do you enjoy working at ‘The Beeches’ Supported Housing?

I enjoy working in a supported housing because I feel that the positive relationships that can be built between staff and residents can form a very solid foundation for recovery. I believe working within supported housing enables a closer, personal relationship with residents, identifying daily routines, personal preferences, personal and group needs. It is a real joy to support a person and see their recovery journey progress in a positive way.

What does a day to day look like in a Supported Housing?

A day in a supported housing would usually consist of supporting residents with taking their prescribed medication and accurately recording daily events within resident’s case notes, checking on resident’s welfare. Liaising with GP’s and Community Mental Health Teams, liaising with referral agencies, speaking with family and friends of residents, accompanying residents to go shopping or to medical appointments. We also support residents to prepare meals, do laundry, clean rooms, and other general life skills. Our recovery workers also accompany residents to supported day service activities or simply take residents on a cultural walk or a visit to the seaside or any other activity that promotes health and wellbeing.

How does a Supported Housing positively impact someone on their recovery journey?

Supported housing positively impacts a person’s recovery journey because of our staff. The opportunity to develop a positive working relationship with residents, underpinned with professionalism, respect and a desire on the part of the staff member to go the extra mile and make a real difference to the person we support’s recovery.

What has the Beeches been up to recently?

Our service ‘The Beeches’ recently took residents on a day out to Llandudno in North Wales which residents enjoyed immensely, rounded off with some pub grub! Our residents have also supported the RSPCA in the ‘Big Garden Birdwatch’ documenting all the different bird species that visit our beautiful garden and reporting the finding to the RSPCA, further to this, residents have sourced recyclable materials and constructed ‘Bird boxes’ for our garden. Hopefully in the future we shall see some nesting birds take up residence!

How did your service delivery change during the pandemic and what did you learn from it?

Our service delivery changed during the pandemic as we had to be more inventive. We had to look for activities which residents and staff could do which kept people safe and met with Covid-19 restrictions. This limited our opportunities to engage with external support programmes but enhanced the opportunity to develop internal activities. We started movie nights, communal meals, the development of a monthly magazine ‘The Beeches Bugle’ which focussed on health and wellbeing, word search, trivia, poems and stories from residents.

I suppose that the learning we took from delivering support during the pandemic is that it is possible to be more inventive with ideas to promote recovery in different ways, and not to take for granted the many options available to work in partnership to support our residents.

What would you say to someone thinking about working in a Supported Housing?

Do It!! It is very rewarding to work in a supported housing service. It gives you the opportunity to work in a person-centred way, supporting residents with their daily tasks, whether that’s taking medication, attending appointments, going shopping or learning new life skills.

You can find out more about working for us at Richmond Fellowship here.

 

A huge thank you to Stephen for this insight into Beeches Supported Housing and the great work going on in supporting people’s recovery journeys. To stay up to date on our Supported Housing week, follow Richmond Fellowship on Twitter and like our Facebook page, or check out #OurSupportedHousing. We have over 50 supported housing services across England, and we can’t wait to share more with you about our work!

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!

Crisis services in action, and in a pandemic – we hear from Area Manager, Jessica Fish

To end #OurCrisisServices week we hear from Jessica Fish, Area Manager in Lancashire. We started delivering Crisis interventions in Lancashire in 2017, and since then they’ve gone from strength to strength.

We are immensely proud of the impact they’ve had and the hard work our staff have put in to make this a reality – and wanted to hear direct from Jessica about the hard work behind it all.

What was the first Crisis Service in Lancashire and why was it commissioned?

It all started in 2016 when Richmond Fellowship won a contract with Lancashire Care Foundation trust to deliver two Crisis Houses across Lancashire – Chorley opened in May 2017 (Willow House) and Burnley in April 2018 (Oak House).

The services were commissioned to support the pressures around inpatient admissions and ED (Emergency Department/A&E) presentations. They were intended to offer an alternative – therapeutic interventions that would hopefully reduce the amount of people who would need an informal hospital admission.

Following the purchase of a house in Chorley, a complete refurb happened to create a 6-bedroom house including en-suite bathrooms, an office, kitchen, lounge, and an activity room. All bedrooms are fully furnished, and the house provides a ‘home away from home’ feel to ensure those using the service feel relaxed. The team did a lot of work around colour therapy and understanding how surroundings can affect a person’s mood and reduce anxiety.

What’s come since?

Since the two Crisis Houses opened in 2017/2018, the Crisis Pathway has evolved even further across Lancashire – we now provide two outreach services, three Haven services, and are set to open another Crisis House 2 March 2021.

Willow House and Oak House clearly evidenced the potential for therapeutic interventions as an alternative for those needing less intense clinical support. Situations such as a social crisis influencing someone’s mental health or managing the feelings and behaviours that come with a diagnosis such as personality disorders. The Crisis Services work with all of this, along with an even more holistic approach to a persons’ recovery.

The Crisis Houses have shown to be both cost effective, compared to an inpatient stay (in and out of area) and effective in offering a safer, less clinical environment.

What have we learnt along the way?

We have learnt a lot and developed in several areas. Multiagency working is key. The last four years have always shown that the better the multiagency working, the better the outcomes for those using the service.  We have also learnt to adapt our styles and service offer from site to site to ensure that each person gets the best they can out of the intervention sessions.

Most recently we have adapted our offer to include those who are street homeless or who have no fixed address, and to assess this on an individual basis to support recovery.

We have also learnt to adapt with the needs of the clinical teams and practitioners, to learn about where their pressures are, and see where we can support in adapting our offer to those that require more intensive support.

How has the pandemic impacted your work?

The pandemic has meant that we have had to review and adapt our offer and service delivery  regularly over the last year. Most of our support has become virtual – whether this be over the phone or over Zoom/Microsoft Teams. The impact of additional workload on the team to ensure all the government guidance is followed in order to keep everyone safe, whilst also ensuring that all virtual sessions are productive, has also been a challenge.

I’m proud of how all our staff have stepped up to the challenge of the past year – they have worked incredibly hard over the last 12 months. They have supported through service delivery changes and learnt new ways of successfully supporting and keeping people safe throughout their mental health recovery.

The pandemic has caused pressures across all services, including clinical services, and again we have had to continue reviewing our standard operating procedure to ensure we are meeting the needs of the clinical services.

What’s next?

Our current focus is Blackpool Crisis House which launches at the beginning of March! We’re determined to ensure the service provision meets the needs of the community in Blackpool.

Put simply we want to ensure that we are as successful in Blackpool as we are in our already established areas.

Recovery Worker social media takeover

This week we’re dedicating our social media to our frontline staff and the work that they do. On Tuesday Anna, a Recovery Worker in one of our Crisis Houses is taking over our Twitter account to give you a day in the life of her job. Below, she tells us a bit more about herself and her work with Richmond Fellowship.

Hello, my name is Anna and I am currently a recovery worker for the Richmond Fellowship’s Lincolnshire Crisis Service. Although I have only been working here for four months, I am already loving the work! I decided to pursue a career as a recovery worker as – through my university studies in Psychology and seeing family members experience mental ill health – I knew I wanted to help people in psychological distress in any way I could. So when a job post came up for Richmond Fellowship as a Recovery Worker, I applied without a second thought and I am very glad I did. While not every day is the same (which is another thing I love about the job) typically my daily responsibilities include making support plans with people who use our service, and running intervention sessions on a 1-1 or group basis. I’ve conduced interventions on topics as wide ranging as  ‘managing anxiety’ , ‘managing low mood’ , ‘Voice Management’ , ‘Improving Sleep’ and ‘Addictive Behaviours’.

One of my favourite things about the job is that I am able to give interventions and support to people who use our service on topics which I am extremely interested in! But more so, it is that I am able to witness firsthand someone recovering from mental ill health, which feels so good and rewarding, especially because you’ve had some role in their recovery journey.

Working for Richmond Fellowship has gone beyond and above what I expected. Every member of staff, from Recovery Workers to Area Managers is extremely fair, friendly and as passionate about the job. We are kept in the loop about current affairs that may impact our service (e.g. COVID-19) and are always asked for our feedback on the service for improvements to be made, which you really feel is listened to. Furthermore, Richmond Fellowship are always providing training to their staff, including suicide prevention, first aid training and safeguarding. Richmond Fellowship have supported me greatly in allowing me to fulfil my potential as a recovery worker and hopefully a long career in mental health.

You can follow the week, and Anna’s social media takeover, here (https://twitter.com/rfmentalhealth).

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.

Post lockdown tour of our services

Since lockdown has started to ease, Jo Schofield, our Head of Operations in the North, has taken the opportunity to visit several services and see for herself how staff and people we support have been getting on.

In this blog, she tells us more about these visits and what they tell us about our staff’s commitment to Making Recovery Reality, and how proud she is of how well staff and people we support adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic

Moor View (Care Home)

Yesterday was a great day for me. As Head of Operations for the North, I have always been out and about visiting our services but due to Covid-19 that hasn’t been possible since March 2020. However, yesterday I ventured out to my first service visit since lockdown. I visited Moor View our registered care home in Halifax with 24-hour nursing. Upon arrival, I was temperature checked and offered disposable PPE.

Even though I was at Moor View for a meeting with colleagues, I took in the environment and was impressed with the cleanliness of the building. I introduced myself to two staff who I haven’t met before and they told me that they felt safe in the workplace, they felt well informed and supported. Whilst I have heard daily about the good work that is happening in services, there is nothing quite like seeing it for yourself!

Our frontline workers have continued to go into their workplace and adapted their home life to ensure they are as safe as they can be to continue to support the people that use our services.

Today I really felt such pride for everyone I met at Moor View. Not only our frontline staff for their awareness and alertness around Covid-19 but also the people living in our services. It was obvious to me that a lot of work had taken place to educate some of our residents about keeping themselves safe and respecting personal space and maintaining a safe distance with our staff and other residents and visitors to the service.

Trevayler (Crisis House)

Continuing on my visits to services to see how things are going on the frontline during the pandemic, last week took me to Trevayler. Trevayler has two elements; a transitional unit for people moving from a hospital setting and also a crisis house for people experiencing a mental health crisis that require some interventions to prevent a further relapse in their mental health.

As I walked down the drive, I could see what has now become a familiar sight when visiting Richmond Fellowship services; the colourful rainbows in the window that residents and guests had coloured to represent “hope” during the pandemic.

On arrival I was told that I was entering a Covid-19 free zone and asked if I had had any of the identified symptoms, which I confirmed that I had not. I spent time walking around the building and viewing an area of the building that will be transformed into a Crisis Haven over the coming weeks.

There were six staff in handover and I talked to them about how they felt coming into work on the frontline during the pandemic. They collectively told me that this was their job and that they did what they do. At this point, they felt very supported and said that  Richmond Fellowship had done everything possible to make sure they were safe.

As a senior leader in the organisation, I came away feeling proud of the staff working at Trevayler and how they had made adjustments to their lives to ensure the safety of those they support.

There are no words that can describe my gratitude of those working on the frontline to ensure that people we support continue to get the support they need, when they need it.

Tower House (24 Hour Supported Housing)

Last week, my service visits continued. I went to Tower House which is a 24 hour Supported Housing Service in Chester.

Upon arrival I couldn’t hide my smile as I saw the window covered in rainbows acknowledging “hope” during the pandemic. Residents engaged with craft sessions to decorate the window; joined in the clap for carers on Thursdays at 8pm and knew the importance of keeping themselves safe to reduce the risk of falling victim to the virus.

As I was shown around the beautiful building I met resident after resident who kept a safe distance and wore their face masks when they were in communal areas. One of the residents I spoke to explained that they had COPD and therefore was exempt from wearing a face mask but told me that they weren’t going to take any chances and was happy to wear one to keep everyone safe.

The three staff on duty spoke to me about how the residents have responded positively to changes within their living environment and how to start with it was extremely difficult but with lots of education about the Coronavirus and additional support offered, residents had responded really positively. They were really proud of how the residents had adapted during this really difficult time.

I came away from Tower House feeling confident that the staff and residents were working together to keep the service operating in a safe way and that the safety measures in place were not intrusive, but a true reflection on how the virus is being taken seriously within the setting.

What these service visits have shown

These service visits have reinforced what I already knew about our amazing staff and people we support. Throughout the entire pandemic, staff have shown resilience and commitment to our mission: making recovery reality. Even when the country was in a state of crisis, every staff member I encountered radiated hope and respect. They were all focused on enabling the people we support to achieve their goals even in the most adverse external circumstances.

As lockdown measures continue to change, we will keep working with staff and people we support to adapt how our services operate. We believe that everyone has a right to participate fully in society, and we will always ensure our services are running – whatever challenges the future might hold.