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.

Radio Sparky: October 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 this edition to mark World Mental Health Day 2021; Matt Webb Communications and Marketing Officer speaks to Richmond Fellowship’s Director of Operations Robert Templeton about this year’s theme ‘mental health in an unequal world’ and what the charity is doing to ensure mental health provision is available for all.

“Our crisis beds cost as little as £171 per night and that’s compared to an average cost of at least £400 to a hospital bed, or even £500 a night for an out of area placement. We believe that these Crisis Houses and this type of provision really is something that has a real future in terms of meeting those increasing demands from people who are needing the types of services we provide”. – Robert Templeton, Director of Operations.

World Mental Health Day 2021 – Our Employment Services

At Richmond Fellowship we are marking World Mental Health Day. The theme this year is ‘Mental health in an unequal world’. In our blog earlier today we touched on the inequities we see ahead in mental health support and how the pandemic has intensified people’s needs. We know that we are facing a difficult economic and employment situation in the UK post-pandemic, which will see more people with mental health needs requiring employment support. Our employment services are a key part of our work that can combat this developing situation. In our blog we touch on the need to keep the pressure on for services like our employment services to be scaled up quickly across the country so that we can effectively face this situation and support as many people as we can across the country. 

Our Individual Placement Support (IPS) Employment Services specialise in providing support for people living with or recovering from mental ill health to find paid employment, voluntary work, education, and training or to retain their current employmentOur IPS employment advisors and specialists meet regularly with the people referred to us to not only find employment, but also develop a detailed and tailored work preference profile to ensure the work is suited to their needs. Throughout the pandemic our IPS employment services were able to help many people recovering from mental ill heath retain and find work, in what was and still is an uncertain time. 

The impact of our IPS employment services is undeniable, this model of quality mental health support can have a life-changing impact on the people we support, as well as the environments they work in as we see in Zach’s story below. To show this to you, today we are sharing two recovery stories written from the perspective of our staff from our Bath, North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire IPS Employment Service 

The names in these two stories have been changed to protect the identity of the people we support. 

Julie’s Story 

The IPS employment specialist met Julie towards the end of the first lockdown. She had been afraid to go out, hadn’t worked for some time and had no confidence in herself. She found it hard to communicate with others due to not socialising for a long time. Initially, the employment specialist had phone calls and socially distanced walks with Julie. We came to learn how badly bullied she had been in previous corporate roles. She was very artistic and had a background in print and design and was keen to try this again. The employment specialist approached a small, family-based company in Somerset, who offered Julie an hour’s voluntary work a week. It wasn’t long before they were covering her travel expenses, wanting to give something back to reward her for the amazing work she was doing.  

Shortly afterwards, the company offered her an apprenticeship. She has gone from working a few hours a week to doing 4 days a week and her confidence has grown. She now aspires for the future, and it is a joy to see how happy she is in finding a supportive employer. 

Zach’s Story 

The employment specialist has been working with Zach for over 18 months. In this time Zach has experienced a decline in his mental health while at work. However, by working closely with IPS, Zach has gained the confidence to remain in work.  

Zach’s manager has worked closely with the IPS service to help support him within the workplace. He has requested mental health training from IPS for all employees, to allow them to have a greater understanding around mental health and how they can, not just support Zach but also each other. He has also requested extra training to learn more about Zach’s specific mental health diagnosis to help him understand how better to support Zach going forward.  

Zach has stated that he would not be in work without the support that has been given to him from the IPS service and is grateful for the ongoing support.  

Zach’s employer has stated that being supported by IPS has allowed them to better understand mental health within the work place which has inspired them to increase awareness and take a proactive stance within their company to support all employees to maintain good mental health.  

As a result of the ongoing work with IPS and seeing the progress Zach has made, the employer has now stated they are willing to help other clients within the IPS service by offering them the opportunity to earn valuable skills to help them get back into the working environment by offering work experience in several departments within the company. Zach is going to help with the scheme and be a mentor to other clients once this scheme has been set up.  

 

These stories are a positive example of mental health support having a huge impact on people and their daily lives. This World Mental Health Day we are calling for more of this specialist quality support, across the country. We know that it is needed, and for everyone who needs it, now more than ever. 

Make sure you continue to follow along with our conversations this #WorldMentalHealthDay on our Twitter and Facebook 

World Suicide Prevention Day 2021

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day, an important day for us to recognise at Richmond Fellowship, especially as members of the National Suicide Prevention Alliance. According to the World Health Organisation, over 1 in every 100 deaths a year is the result of suicide, and an estimated 703,000 people die by suicide every year. These saddening statistics are why this day is so important and why we work to prevent suicide, raise awareness of mental ill health, and support people on their mental health recovery journeys.  

This year’s theme for World Suicide Prevention Day is ‘Creating Hope Through Action’. We want to encourage understanding and remove the stigma surrounding seeking help, as well as prompting people to reach out and support the people around them.  

Lived experience is a powerful tool for helping others understand suicide and encouraging people to seek support. Today we are sharing a personal story from John, a person we supported at Oak House, one of our Crisis Services. With John’s story we hope to show that recovery is possible, even when it doesn’t always feel like it. 

“My week at Oak House in Burnley has exceeded in meeting my needs. Before I came to Oak House I was 100% convinced nobody could change my mind that taking my life was my best option. How wrong I was. 

I can’t remember too much about my first day due to the negative mindset I was in when I arrived, but if there had been anything negative I know I would have remembered. I’ve found all the staff and volunteers in Oak House to be very welcoming, friendly, professional and supportive. 

Each member of staff who either spoke with me in groups or on a 1-2-1 basis was very clear in explaining advice and educating me on what I needed to teach myself to maintain my own safety. The staff turnaround was on a 24 hour basis, I found this to be a fantastic working and supportive model.  Everyone has their own presentation styles and by doing the staffing in this way it meant I received a broad range of advice based on different experiences. It also made me feel valued by each and every member of staff I spoke with.  

I have past experience of being in a secure unit having been sectioned following a previous failed suicide attempt. If someone had told me that my mind could be altered from the negative state it was in, make me feel life was worth living and actually something to look forward to, in just 7 days, I’d have told you you’re mad. But that’s exactly how I feel. The only way I can describe Oak House in a nutshell is ‘Intensive Care for my brain’.  

Thanks to all the staff for their help and support and, in the nicest possible way, I hope I never have to come here again.” 

We hope John’s personal story brings hope to people that recovery is possible. If you would like to start your own recovery journey, you can find out more about our range of services here, as well as support in your area here. 

Our Crisis Services provide short-stay interventions for people experiencing a mental health crisis. Working in partnership with the NHS, our discreet places of sanctuary provide a calm, comfortable and welcoming space for people to get away from the negative influences in their lives and better manage their mental health. 

We recently focused our social media on our Crisis Services, hearing from staff and people we support. You can check it out here.

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!

Supported Housing Social Media Week – #OurSupportedHousing

This week we are dedicating all our social media accounts to our Supported Housing services!

Did you know that Supported Housing is where Richmond Fellowship started – over 60 years ago? These days we’ve grown to deliver a wide range of mental health services, but we continue to be pioneers in the field of supported housing. We know that people need to feel safe, secure and supported in their accommodation in order to be able to focus on their mental health. Our supported housing services provide people with a real home as well as access to support from Richmond Fellowship’s team of highly trained recovery workers.

We now have over 50 supported housing services across England, and all our residents receive individually tailored support plans from a highly trained team to support them on their recovery journey. Our staff work with our residents to create a model of support that best suits their needs and goals.

“Richmond Fellowship helped me with life skills and built my confidence up. I went from being in and out of hospital all the time to managing my symptoms using techniques Richmond Fellowship taught me. I’ve been out for two years, and I thank them for that.”

Person we supported

All week we are going to be giving you a look behind the doors of our supported housing – you’ll meet the staff; hear from the people we support and see what really happens in this type of specialist housing.

Make sure to follow us on Twitter and like our Facebook page to stay updated on all things Supported Housing this week and check out the hashtag #OurSupportedHousing.

To find out a bit more about our Supported Housing 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.

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.

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.