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.

Radio Sparky: April 2021 podcast

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

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

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

Radio Sparky: March 2021 podcast

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

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

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

 

Richmond Fellowship takes part in local radio ‘companions’ campaign

Richmond Fellowship is taking part in a radio campaign to highlight the work of its services during the coronavirus pandemic.

‘Cambridge Companions’ is supported by the government-backed Audio Content Fund and is designed to draw attention to loneliness and offer help and advice to listeners who may be suffering or who are able to reach out to support others.

The week-long campaign, which runs from 22 to 28 March, has been organised by Cambridge 105 Radio and will air on the community radio station as well as partners Cam FM and Star Radio in Cambridgeshire. It will also run on several other stations in East Anglia.

Laura Whitehouse from Richmond Fellowship’s Cambridgeshire Employment service has been taking part in an interview to talk about the work they do, and promo spots will also air across the week to signpost listeners to Richmond Fellowship’s local mental health services.

Kerry Stiles, East Anglia Area Manager at Richmond Fellowship said:

‘I’m so thrilled that our services in Cambridgeshire have been invited to be involved in this amazing initiative. Our teams have been working tirelessly during the pandemic to deliver support to those suffering from mental ill health and most isolated, often utilising technology to deliver face to face support digitally where appropriate’.

Trevor Dann, executive producer of the Companions campaign and a board member at Cambridge 105 Radio said:

‘We’ve really enjoyed working with Richmond Fellowship and the other charities to promote the work they do. The pandemic has really shone a light on how vital these services and organisations are to our local communities’.

To find out more information about the Companions campaign and to listen to Laura’s interview, visit www.radiocompanions.co.uk.

The campaign launch coincides with the start of our #CommunityServicesWeek where we’re shining the spotlight on the work of our Community support services on our social media channels.

Radio Sparky: February 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 February 2021’s edition, Matt Webb, Communications and Marketing Officer speaks to Demi Halstead, Crisis Recovery Worker at our Oak House Crisis service in East Lancashire about her role, journey from being a person we support to working for us and how she uses her lived experience to support others with their mental health recovery.

“I was a guest at Oak House about 3 years ago and the support I received as a guest personally myself was unbelievable. I was rejected from quite a few other services due to my diagnosis, where at Oak House I felt welcomed and heard.” – Demi, person we supported and Crisis Recovery Worker.

Radio Sparky: January 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 January 2021’s edition, Matt Webb, Communications and Marketing Officer speaks to John Veir, Employment Advisor at Richmond Fellowship’s Cambridgeshire Employment service about his role, how he came to work for the charity, his passion around highlighting men’s mental health and we also find out more about the Huntingdon service moving to new premises.

“I just see the difference that can be made just talking about mental health because if you go to the gym to look after yourself physically, talking about mental health in whatever capacity is another positive thing – that’s the gym for the mind as I see it.” – John, Employment Advisor.

Richmond Fellowship in The Guardian: Change in the charity sector

Richmond Fellowship was asked to contribute to a recent article in The Guardian around creating a movement of change in the charity and social care sector.

Danny O’Donoghue, Area Manager for our West services was only too happy to take up the task and this is what he had to say:

Do you have relevant personal experience?

People often think in binaries: are you political or altruistic? Are you a person in need or a volunteer? When truthfully, we are all of these things. It’s time to collapse the distinction between the helper and the helped, something addiction and prison services have known for years: there is no more effective support than that which comes from someone who’s been there.

Danny said: “If you ever want to know total isolation, try hearing voices. Nothing is more alienating than something you can’t share. When clinicians ran these groups, they were poorly attended – sometimes the staff outnumbered the people. That never happens with volunteers with experience. I was struck by one saying, ‘The voices have always been the thing I hide, that I find some way to bury. The pleasure in this instance is being able to wear it as a uniquely qualifying asset, to apply it in support of someone else’s recovery.’”

You can read the full article on Guardian Online here.

If you’re a journalist and would like us to comment or contribute to future press or media articles, please contact our Communications and Marketing team here.

Radio Sparky: December 2020 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 December’s edition, Matt Webb, Communications and Marketing Officer speaks to Jessica Fish, Area Manager of Richmond Fellowship’s Lancashire services about her journey through the charity to becoming an Area Manager, how her services have been managing during the coronavirus pandemic and about a new Social Enterprise element to our Central Lancashire Haven.

‘The way in which the Service Managers and the Recovery Workers adapted, the way that they worked was incredible. Going from doing all face to face visits or support sessions to everything being virtual, learning how to use new platforms to delivering those sessions and also supporting people that use our services to access those virtual platforms’. – Jessica Fish, Area Manager.

Recovery Worker Week 2020 round-up

As one of the largest voluntary sector providers of mental health support in England, our frontline staff are critical to our work and the wellbeing of the people we support.

Our frontline staff have gone above and beyond this year during the Covid-19 pandemic and we’ve been shining the spotlight on what they do with a dedicated week on our social media.

During Recovery Worker Week (16-20 November) we shared a blog from Jo, our North Head of Operations about her visits to services during the Covid-19 pandemic and the excellent work she witnessed first-hand during these challenging times.

‘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’. – Jo.

Deborah, Service Manager at Willow House in Lancashire wrote a blog about how our Crisis houses have continued to provide care despite the lockdown.

‘I didn’t think I’d face new challenges such as dogs barking over Skype or parrots chirping during a telephone intervention’. – Deborah.

We handed over the reins of our Twitter account to Anna, Crisis Recovery Worker at our Lincolnshire Crisis House. During ‘Recovery Worker Takeover’, Anna tweeted what she was doing across the day to give a flavour of the tasks our frontline staff carry out on a daily basis.

We also shared a range of experiences from our Recovery Workers across the country.

International Men’s Day also fell during Recovery Worker Week (Thursday 19 November), so we used this opportunity to showcase our frontline roles as great careers for men to consider. Rob, Peer Volunteer Co-ordinator at our Wiltshire Recovery and Social Inclusion service explained on video how Richmond Fellowship is a mindful employer for older men in the organisation.

If you’re interested in a career with us, or any of the partners in our Recovery Focus Group of charities, please take a look at our vacancies page by