Radio Sparky: May 2022 Mental Health Awareness Week 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 this special edition to mark Mental Health Awareness Week 2022, Matt Webb Communications and Marketing Officer speaks to Nicholas Barnes, Peer Support Coordinator at our Crawley Staying Well service about his experience of year’s theme ‘loneliness’ and how he uses his lived experience to support others along their recovery journeys.

“I felt lonely even though she was still around at that time. She was sleeping a lot and not really talkative when she was awake. She just wanted to be by herself a lot. I was quite lonely because I couldn’t express myself. I had no one I could talk to in front of, because of her illness it would upset her.” Nicholas, Peer Support Coordinator.

Mental Health Awareness Week 2022 – #WeAreHere

This year Mental Health Awareness Week is tackling loneliness. As a provider of mental health support across England, we see day in and day out the impact that social isolation and loneliness can have on people’s mental health. The pandemic has only made this worse. 

All our services across Richmond Fellowship work to combat loneliness. Whether you’re having an at-home visit from someone in our community service team or gathering for lunch living in one of our supported housing services, our staff are there building safe spaces for the people we support. Throughout the pandemic all our services made sure they continued delivering this support at a time it was needed most. Our services helped people feel less alone. 

So, what can you expect from us this week?  

This year we wanted to keep things simple and recognise the important work of our amazing staff and services – not just for delivering high quality support throughout the pandemic, but also for all they do to help people feel less alone.  

So, on our social media we’ll be showing how our services, staff and people we support combat loneliness. Some of our staff will be sharing their experiences with loneliness to help break the stigma and encourage people to seek support for their mental health. 

We’ll also be sharing a RadioSparky Podcast featuring Nicholas, Peer Support Coordinator at Crawley Staying Well, one of our Crisis Havens in Surrey about his experience with loneliness and how the service supports people in their local area. 

How do our models to support recovery tackle loneliness? 

At Richmond Fellowship we have various models to support recovery including Employment Services, Residential Recovery (including Supported Housing and CQC Registered Care Homes), Community Based Services, Crisis Services and Domestic Abuse Services. Each working in their own specialised way to make recovery reality for the people we support.  

  • Models like our Crisis Services are a lifeline for people experiencing a mental health crisis, acting as a sanctuary when people feel most alone. People can find respite either within our Crisis Houses, or peer and professional support in our Crisis Havens. 
  • Our Community-based Services bring people together to connect. They give people the confidence to get back into society through community groups and at-home support with shopping, finances and independent living. These services are essential in reaching people who are isolated and feeling lonely. 
  • As for our housing services, living around likeminded people and having a safe space to grow and recover is hugely beneficial in tackling loneliness and isolation. Our housing services deliver either 24-hour or 12-hour support. Our staff, as well as the other residents, are there to support people on their recovery journeys and to ensure they never feel alone. 
  • Our Employment Services keep in regular contact with the people we support, checking in on their job applications and CV writing, but also their mental health and any other difficulties they might be having. Our employment services work hard to get the people we support into employment that is right for and interests them.  
  • Our Domestic Abuse Services are there for people affected by domestic abuse who are in situations that can leave them feeling entirely alone and isolated. 

Make sure you are following us on our Facebook and Twitter. Don’t forget, we are here, a safe space is available for you to also feel less alone. Find out about your local Richmond Fellowship services here.  

World Autism Acceptance Week blog

To mark World Autism Acceptance Week, Laura Whitehouse, Autism and Asperger’s Employment Advisor at our Cambridgeshire Employment service has written this blog to share her experiences of working with people on the autism spectrum.

Who am I?

In 2015-2016, I trained with Teach East to become a Primary School Teacher. I completed my training and got a job as a Classroom Teacher, teaching in Year 4 at the school I trained in. I left teaching in 2018 as I found that it was not the role for me. Having left the profession, I secured my current role working with autistic adults to find and stay in work. But my experience of working with children on the autism spectrum as a Teaching Assistant, Trainee Teacher and Class Teacher continues to help me in my current work.

What is Autism?

Autism is a lifelong, developmental condition that affects about 1 in 100 people. It is a condition that affects the way in which people communicate and interact with the world around them. It is also a spectrum condition, which means that every individual is affected in a different way and have their own strengths and challenges. This definition has come from the National Autistic Society website, and this is a good place to start if you want to find out more at www.autism.org.uk. Also, local libraries have a good range of material on the subject including those written by people with autism.

My Experience and Top Tips

Working with and talking to people on the autism spectrum on daily basis allows me to learn something new every day. It has also highlighted the fact that each person is unique with their own strengths and challenges and so the best way of supporting them is by working in a person-centred way.

Now, I would like to share some of my top tips to supporting adults and children on the autism spectrum:

  • Increase your own knowledge of the condition and how it might affect an individual, this way you will have a better understanding of why they might be acting in a certain way.

  • Take time to get to know them, what are their interests, strengths and challenges, that way you can tailor support to suit their needs. The importance is that they are listened to and heard.

  • Routine is important to those on the spectrum as they know what is happening and it reduces anxiety. So, use of timetables written or visual can be beneficial.

  • Sudden changes can be difficult for some people on the autism spectrum. So, spending time preparing for it, explaining what the changes is and why it is happening can help manage the stress around it.

  • Avoid figurative and ambiguous language instead be clear in what you say and mean and check for understanding.

  • Be specific with expectations of work and behaviour.

  • If they have a sensory need or challenge, try to find ways to manage this. For example, if they are sensitive to noise then use noise cancelling headphones.

To find out more information about our Cambridgeshire Employment service, click here.

Spotlighting our Employment Services

Every month on our social media accounts, we take the time to really explore one of our models to support recovery. You may already have seen our Crisis Services Week and Supported Housing Week. But we aren’t just a housing charity! We also deliver 38 specialist employment services to individuals experiencing mental ill health to help regain or retain meaningful employment, training, education or volunteering opportunities. Ones that are right for and tailored to them. Last year we delivered employment support to 3,126 people! 

So this week we’re going to be opening the door to our Employment Services. Our employment teams across England help to communicate with employers to make reasonable adjustments and provide the support needed to better manage mental health at work. They help people experiencing mental ill health to feel safe and comfortable in their working environment. 

“I was given so much support and encouragement that I considered a career in mental health support to try and help people as much as I was helped. I’m now a support worker feeling very satisfied in a job I might not even have considered if not for my advisor” – A person we support, Kirklees Employment Service.

Our employment advisors meet regularly with the people we support to help develop a detailed work preference profile to ensure the work is suited to the individual. Individuals 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.  

“Our services give people a massive boost of confidence and assistance in developing key skills that they wouldn’t necessarily receive support with elsewhere. We are able to help them get back into society and give routine and structure back to their lives.” – Employment Advisor, BANeS Employment Service.

So, what can you expect as we open the doors to our employment services this week? 

  • We’ll be hearing directly from staff working in our employment services. 
  • We’ll be sharing the recovery stories of people we support and letting you know about the exciting job opportunities they now have thanks to our employment teams. 
  • Maybe you’ve thought about wanting to work within a mental health charity? We’ll be sharing what it’s like to work within our employment services, hearing from staff about what their day-to-days look like. 
  • Becky, one of our Employment Specialists at our BANeS Employment Service will be giving us some insight into her role in our RadioSparky Podcast. 
  • Kirklees Employment Service open their doors to us and let us know what’s coming up as they celebrate their newly renewed contract to continue delivering employment services to the people we support. 

“We work with such a variety of people who all have different strengths, support needs, and life experiences that we learn so much as we help them achieve their goals.” – Employment Advisor, Kirklees Employment Service. 

You’re not going to what to miss out so make sure you follow us on Twitter and like our Facebook page to stay up to date on all things Employment Services. Looking for employment support in your area? Use our find a service tool to see support near you. 

Winter Wellbeing

The month of January can be a difficult time of year for people, what with winter weather, the start of a new year and finances biting after the festive season.  All too often we’ve started to see and hear the term Blue Monday being used to describe this particular Monday in January – packaging all these effects up and applying them to one day, and how people might be feeling.  

As a leading mental health charity, we don’t believe Blue Monday is the best way to talk about mental health and wellbeing. As we all know, people experience mental ill health throughout the year, not just on one day. We do acknowledge that the winter can be particularly hard on people’s mental health though. So, we’re turning our social media and internal communications focus on Winter Wellbeing – today and through the rest of January.  

Many of our services are for people experiencing severe mental ill health, often for people who need long term specialist support and help – maybe through our Crisis Services, or our Supported Housing. However, as a national mental health charity, we know that from time to time we all need to remind ourselves of the simple acts that can support our wellbeing. Basics that we could all be doing more often – particularly after a challenging two years when many of us may have not noticed the long-term impact a pandemic has had on our mental health.   

One of our models to support recovery at Richmond Fellowship is Community Support, and we’ll be particularly drawing on their expertise this month. As we all know, having community around us that can help to lift us up is so important for our overall wellbeing.  Our Community Support services work to limit social isolation and reach individuals experiencing mental ill health to help reconnect them with their communities. They’re tailored to the individual and work in multiple ways to deliver support. This could be either 1:1 support with day-to-day activities such as shopping and finance, or group support sessions with opportunities to volunteer, get outside and involved with local people.  

“I could discuss my triggers with a staff member without feeling ashamed. His lived experience allowed me to become more confident in expressing myself and to feel less ashamed of my illness. I have never found this support anywhere else.”

Person we support

 

“I feel that every person should be given a chance to achieve things in their life, no matter how big or small. I enjoy building relationships with people we support and their families – this enables them to get the best support tailored for them.”

Community Link Advisor

Our community services and staff encourage the people we support to develop new skills and further their interests knowing the powerful impact that has on people’s wellbeing. For instance, at Our Time Community Support in Liverpool, Marshall, a person we support developed podcasting skills through his support from us. Marshall then featured on our very own RadioSparky Podcast to share his experience within our community support services and how the opportunities he had to develop his creative skills improved his mental health. You can find out more and listen to the RadioSparky podcast here.  

“I feel our community services have a massive impact on the people we support. We give them hope and a purpose as we help them achieve small meaningful goals they set themselves. Our support is very service user led and we work with them to develop their own ideas into achievements.”

Community Link Advisor

So, as you can see our Community Support teams are experts in everyday wellness and mental health recovery – and this week and month we will be sharing their advice on wellbeing, particularly in the winter season, whether that’s how they facilitate wellbeing in their own lives or with the people we support.  

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and like our Facebook page to stay up to date with our #WinterWellbeing advice straight from our specialist staff. 

Find out more about our community services and the support in your area. 

We are supporting 16 Days of Action against Domestic Abuse

16 Days of Action against Domestic Abuse is an awareness period dedicated to ending domestic abuse across the world. It is an opportunity to call for changes at an international, national and local level. It begins today, on the 25 November, International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and ends on the 10 December, International Human Rights Day.  

Last year it was estimated that 1.6 million women and 757,00 men in England and Wales were victims of domestic abuse. Every week it is estimated that two women a week are killed by a current or ex-partner in England and Wales alone (Office for National Statistics UK). We know that the pandemic has only made things worse for people at risk of domestic abuse, the UN reported that calls to domestic abuse helplines had increased five-fold in some countries during the pandemic. 

Sadly, the violence doesn’t stop at domestic abuse. Sexual harassment in public spaces is experienced by many women across the world, and the tragic murders of Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa have only heightened awareness of the danger’s women continue to face.  

71% of women of all ages in the UK have experienced some form of sexual harassment in a public space. This numbers rises to 86% among 25 – 34 years old. 97% of 18 – 24-year-old women have experienced some form of sexual harassment. (UN Women, 2021)

More must be done to address domestic abuse, sexual harassment, and the increasing violence against women and girls. For the next 16 Days we will be using our social media to raise awareness about what domestic abuse is, giving insight into how our domestic abuse services work to safeguard victims and children, and demonstrating how and why we need to take action to stop perpetrators reoffending. Over the next 16 days you can expect to see on our social media: 

  • Statistics shining the light on the current state of domestic abuse in the UK. 
  • Insight into the different forms of domestic abuse and what these can look like. 
  • Personal stories from people who have used our services, including perpetrators. 
  • Putting the focus on our specialist work with perpetrators of domestic abuse. 
  • Signposting to helplines/support and other valuable learning resources. 
  • Insight into the impact of domestic abuse on children and young people. 
  • And much more… 

Approximately 400,000 perpetrators per year cause medium and high levels of harm, yet fewer than 1% received specialist intervention that might stop the violence.

Specialist interventions like our Domestic Violence Prevention Programme (DVPP) delivered through our Domestic Abuse divisions, exist to address the abusive behaviours of perpetrators. These interventions allow us to get to the root cause of domestic abuse, helping to stop reoffending. Our domestic abuse services are pioneers in working with perpetrators. In fact, our DVIP division had one of the first Domestic Violence Prevention Programmes to be fully accredited by Respect UK, the national accreditation body in the UK.  

As an organisation that delivers specialist support, we can not only speak up on the issue, but also be part of the solution ahead to creating a safer environment for victims and survivors of domestic abuse. We look forward to talking more about our work with perpetrators later in the campaign. 

Make sure you follow us on Twitter and like our Facebook page to stay up to date with our 16 Days campaign. You can find out more about our domestic abuse services here. You can also check out our social media posts from earlier this week dedicated to our domestic abuse services to find out more about their work. 

Our Domestic Abuse Services – Children Therapy

According to Public Health England, over 800,000 children witness domestic abuse a year. A staggering figure that will require huge support to ensure these children still have a healthy and positive development into adolescence. We must support and safeguard young people and children impacted by domestic abuse, as well as addressing the emotional, cognitive and behavioural impact that can be developed from witnessing domestic abuse. Delivering children therapy is just one way we work to address the impact of domestic abuse.

Our Children Therapy is delivered in many different ways, and dependant on age; though most support is delivered through 1:1 sessions. Our service enables children and young people to address the emotional impact of domestic abuse. By offering a safe, consistent and confidential space, children and young people are able to process difficult and confusing experiences. Our play and creative arts therapy sessions are non-directive and child-centred, we encourage young people to explore what best works for them and their needs. You can find out more about this support and how to be referred here.

Today we are sharing the experiences of the children we support, collated and presented by our Children Therapy Practitioners. We hope to give some insight into what support looks like for children and their families impacted by domestic abuse. You can find out more about our range of domestic abuse services here.

The names have been changed to protect the identities of people we support.

Lydia’s support through Children Therapy

In sessions Lydia has mentioned that she feels calm and relaxed and that most of the time she doesn’t really feel like this. Especially when she’s at school she feels overwhelmed with all the noises, the people and busyness of the school day.

In our sessions, we have been identifying the things that Lydia already does to help her find that calmness, especially when she feels like she may be emotionally overwhelmed. Lydia has identified, going to her bedroom for ‘time out’ or to ‘cool off’ as a good thing to do to take her out of an emotional situation. Lydia also uses singing and dancing for the times she has lots of feelings, singing and dancing is especially helpful for when she feels hurt, or that she may say something she doesn’t want too.

I have been working closely with Lydia’s mum in tandem to my sessions with Lydia, to think about things mum could be using at home to support with Lydia’s emotion regulation. Mum recognised that Lydia loves making art and crafts, so they created their own feelings cards so Lydia can safely show mum her feelings. They have also been practising some mindfulness together, such as body scans, nostril breathing and belly breathing. I have been talking to mum about the neuroscience around mindfulness how it can support the left and the right side of the brain to work together, emotion + rationale = wise mind!

For mum this has been something she has found helpful too and has invested in her own self soothing and to help practice her own mindfulness.

Charlie’s support through Children Therapy

Charlie has engaged well with therapy and has attended 9 of his scheduled 12 sessions, he has used the sessions to create a therapy space that is meaningful to him. Charlie has been reflecting on his past experiences of loss and trauma. He reflected that:

‘I have thought about stuff in the past that I have never thought about, and this has helped me to feel better about the past’.

Charlie has used the therapy space primarily for talking and said:

‘this is the calmest I have ever felt, I have found it hard to speak to other people, at school or with mum. Coming to therapy feels good’.

He has been able to express things that he has felt unsure about and been able to identify how he wishes to change parts of his life.

Charlie wishes to continue with therapy and understands that it has a positive impact on his life and his relationships. This was felt too by mum who has said she has found Charlie to be much calmer at home and their relationship, which was fraught at times, is becoming closer. Charlie has been supportive towards mum and her own health needs.

We hope hearing these experiences helps understanding the impact domestic abuse can have on children, and what support can look like. Make sure you continue to follow along with #OurDAServices to find out more about the support of our domestic abuse services. Stay tuned for our 16 Days of Action against Domestic Abuse campaign beginning on 25 November. Follow us here on Twitter, and like our Facebook page.

Putting the focus on our Domestic Abuse Services

Once a month, across the whole of the Recovery Focus group of charities, we dedicate a week on our social media channels to a particular area of our work.  

This week we are focussing on our Domestic Abuse Services. Did you know we deliver domestic abuse services in London and across the Midlands? We have two divisions within our charity that are specialist providers in supporting victims/survivors, children, young people, and perpetrators of abuse. Our domestic abuse divisions are pioneers, who together have over 40 years of specialist experience. In fact, our Domestic Violence Perpetrator Programme delivered by our DVIP division was one of the first to be accredited by the official accreditation body in the UK, Respect. 

Later this week, from 25 November, our domestic abuse services will be taking part in 16 Days of Action against Domestic Abuse, sharing important information and raising awareness about domestic abuse. 

So in the run up to 16 Days of Action, we’re dedicating our social media to sharing information about how our domestic abuse services support and safeguard people with the aim of ending domestic abuse and the harm caused to victims, children, and families.  

Our domestic abuse services deliver support to victims/survivors through 1:1 and group support, children and young people through our children therapy service, and perpetrators of abuse through our Domestic Violence Perpetrator Programme. Our DVIP service also has a specialist Family Courts Team, that offer domestic violence risk assessments in the public and private family courts. In addition, both of our divisions offer a specialist service to young people using abuse towards a parent/carer through our YUVA service. You can find out more about our South based service here, and North based here.

You can find out about the range of support our domestic abuse services deliver here. You can use our find a service tool to find this support in your area.

Make sure you follow us on Twitter and like our Facebook page to keep up with #OurDAServices. You can also follow DVIP (Domestic Violence Intervention Project) on Twitter, our provider of domestic abuse support based in London and as of recently, Surrey.

International Men’s Day: Men in the frontline social care sector

Today is International Men’s Day. The day highlights some of the issues men and boys face in society. It also looks to promote jobs and sectors which men traditionally haven’t chosen for careers.

A report in 2019 published by The Guardian highlighted that only 18% of people working in social care are male. As a charity that works in the social care sector, across Richmond Fellowship, less than 30% of those working in front line roles are men. Whilst this may be better than others in the sector, as an organisation we still want to improve on this statistic. As the Guardian also said, social care ‘needs to change the public’s perception that a career in care is only for women’.

In the last month, the UK government launched a nationwide recruitment campaign to encourage more people to join the adult social care sector, so the conversations around the subject couldn’t be more timely.

To mark Men’s Day 2021 we hear from Matt, our Communications and Marketing Officer who previously worked as a front line member of staff in one of our services about how he finds working in a charity rewarding and how, as a man, you can make a real difference to people’s lives if you choose a career in the social care sector.

“As someone who’s been a person we support, worked in a service in a frontline role as a Community Link Worker and now work in our central services team as Marketing and Communications Officer I’ve been at all the touching points of our charity.

I’ve also met some incredibly inspiring men along the way. John, who I spoke to as part of our Radio Sparky podcast in January this year is one of those. He was also a person we support before he became an Employment Advisor. He uses his lived experience to support others and finds his role as a frontline member of staff very rewarding – we’ll be hearing more from John as part of our International Men’s Day social media campaign.”

“I would recommend Richmond Fellowship as a good place to work. It’s got a good work-life balance for me. One of the first things we did when I first started at Richmond Fellowship was take my daughter horse riding lessons” – John, Employment Advisor, Cambridgeshire Employment service.

“I personally came to Richmond Fellowship as a person we support, after experiencing bullying at work and domestic abuse by an ex-girlfriend and never considered working for the organisation. The thought never crossed my mind, until one day I was told about a vacancy in a service as a Community Link Worker. I came into my final Employment session with my Advisor, Anna in Cambridge and I said I’d applied for a job as a Community Link Worker at Richmond Fellowship. She was over the moon and 2 weeks later I went for the interview and was lucky enough to secure the role.

When I joined the Supported Housing service in Sudbury, Suffolk there were only 2 male members of staff out of a team of 8, myself and the Service Manager. When the Service Manager moved on, I became the only male member of staff. It then dawned on me, why do so few men apply or want a career in frontline services – not just within Richmond Fellowship but across the whole sector?

Our frontline roles such as Recovery Workers, Administrators, Employment Advisors and Community Link Workers are so rewarding, the difference you can make to people’s lives and helping the people we support along their recovery journeys is so inspiring. I know… I’ve done it.

I think that diversity across every part of an organisation or charity is vital. It’s important we break down boundaries to encourage more men to work in roles within sectors where they’re underrepresented just as it’s important that support is there for women to do the same. You need a diverse workforce and talent across all levels of an organisation to make it flourish.

I’m proud to work for a charity that has open and honest conversations about this, and there are ways we can raise issues at senior level through Listening Lunches, but the onus is on all of us, whoever we are, whatever our job role, to make change happen.

If you’re a man who’s never considered a job in the charity or care sector, it really is a great place to work. The roles can sometimes be challenging, but the feeling that you get from supporting people is incredibly rewarding. I never thought that I’d be where I am now 10 years ago and Richmond Fellowship has played an incredibly important part in my career progression, both personally and professionally”.

Inspired? Check out our vacancies page today and support us with Making Recovery Reality!