Solent Recovery College holds inaugural presentation ceremony

​Friday 28th February was the inaugural certificate presentation ceremony of Solent Recovery College (SRC). SRC began offering 13 recovery-focused courses in September 2013 and 145 students have successfully completed courses.

The event took place at the Highbury College Campus in Portsmouth and was attended by Professor Geoff Shepherd, Senior Policy Adviser of the Recovery Programme at the Centre for Mental Health and programme leader of imRoc. Professor Shepherd took the opportunity to speak about the widespread benefits for organisations, peer trainers and students that recovery colleges can bring, as well as the positive changes in attitudes that they can help create within local communities.

Students were presented with certificates, with many of those receiving awards having completed more than one course since the recovery college opened in September. The ceremony marks the first successes of a project RF Portsmouth has been proud to be a strong partner in, working alongside Highbury College of Further Education and Solent NHS trust.

There are now 18 recovery colleges in the UK but Solent Recovery College is the only one thus far to operate from a full time FE college campus. The initiative has the full support of Portsmouth City Council, who provide funding for peer trainers. It’s also a contributing factor in Richmond Fellowship being the largest employer of peer support staff in the city, and we provide both paid and volunteer peer workers to co-design and co-deliver all the courses alongside mental health professionals from Solent NHS Trust, including a consultant and a local GP as well as staff from CMHTs.

The next year will see further development of SRC, with a programme of courses for the spring term already being delivered and further courses proposed for 2014-15. Courses are open to people who use mental health services in Portsmouth, their carers and supporters and staff from the three partner organisations. Portsmouth City Council have also recently agreed an extension to RF’s support and recovery contract, which will ensure the partnership can continue to thrive and Solent Recovery College can go from strength to strength.

ENRICH achievement awards winners

Richmond Fellowship’s annual ENRICH achievement awards winners have been announced. This year we received over 100 fantastic nominations and the standard was higher than ever. The judging panel enjoyed hearing about the incredible work individual services were doing to make recovery a reality and in our Hope category, we heard first hand from people using our services how Richmond Fellowship had impacted positively on their lives. Because we had so many impressive entries, the judges decided to add a Highly Commended award to each category.

Enabling – excellence in innovation

Winner: 2Care Derbyshire – Trevayler

For: The work undertaken to create an improved service by refurbishing a cluster house into a five bedroomed crisis house. Last year, it was recognised as a major part of the local crisis team and received their quality mark. A phenomenal amount of positive feedback  has been received from service users and the staff team has now expanded, as a new transitional service is being developed in partnership with the local NHS Trust to help people move on from an inpatient stay. .

Highly Commended: Richmond Fellowship Liverpool – Our Time

For: Piloting a time banking scheme where participants are encouraged to exchange time and skills with others, focusing on their abilities. Through the scheme, service users are able to build up their confidence and social networks, enabling them to integrate with their local communities. Our Time has since received the  quality mark from Timebanking UK.

Networking – excellence in partnership working

Winner: Richmond Fellowship Cheshire East

For: Demonstrating exceptional partnership working with the local LIFT project to secure re-commissioned contracts and lottery funding. The team worked hard on the financial logistics to ensure the viability and success of the service. They developed a new service model that provided support to entire families affected by mental health issues and secured their initial three clients. With a strong foundation for growth in place, the service is set to go from strength to strength.

Highly Commended: Richmond Fellowship Liverpool – Derwent Square

For: Working with Rathbone Hospital in Liverpool to secure supported housing for five long-stay patients. The team faced the challenge of breaking down stigma in the community and met with local neighbours, retailers, community support workers and politicians to help dispel myths and prejudice. All five service users were enabled to take up their tenancies and commence a more independent lifestyle.

Respect – excellence in engagement

Winner: Performance, Quality and Innovation team

For: Driving higher levels of service quality by recognising the need for teams of individuals with different skills, knowledge and experience to review our services. The job description of peer assessors was developed as a result, with payment for their work and substantial support throughout the process. This increased their self-esteem, confidence and communication skills whilst PQI received improved service user feedback.

Highly Commended: Richmond Fellowship Cambridge Employment Service

For: The work carried out to develop the Inspirational Leaves art project facilitated by two service users. With support from an employment advisor, they established a project that aimed to encompass artistic techniques alongside employment related skills including teamwork, negotiation skills, time-keeping, motivation and confidence. Participants have since gone on to gain voluntary and paid employment.

Inclusion – excellence in inclusion

Winner: Richmond Fellowship Suffolk Recovery Support

For: Developing new and innovative ways to strengthen communications and provide engaging community-based activities that increased social inclusion and confidence. These included creating social media accounts to keep people informed about goings on and activities at the service, working in partnership with a befriending service to provide monthly social meetings, and securing an allotment for staff and service users to cultivate together. Additionally, the ‘Get Going’ group was established to provide social support to service users both past and present, enabling people to meet up with their friends and maintain a strong social support network.

Highly Commended: Richmond Fellowship North West Surrey – Croft House

For: Recognising the need for increased service user integration within the local community and organising a successful community ‘diversity day’. The day raised the profile of RF and increased understanding about mental health. Additionally, Croft House established a number of weekly activities including meditation, an art group, a communal cooking session, outings to the cinema and swimming, all of which helped to increase a sense of social inclusion and build up support networks. Nine service users were able to move on in the last year, with one person gaining paid employment as an IT consultant and one long-term service user finally moving out.

Community – excellence in social responsibility

Winner: Richmond Fellowship Milton Keynes and Northants – Repton House

For: Establishing a conservation group where service users benefitted the local community whilst simultaneously  helping themselves through the increased physical and mental wellbeing that engaging in a focussed group activity brought. The group was attended by ten service users across three services and two members have since gone on to do further voluntary conservation work for the Parks Trust at Stony Stratford. The group created a strong sense of community spirit and inclusion.

Highly Commended: Blackpool Community Development Worker

For: Reducing stigma surrounding mental health within the wider community through the organisation of a ‘pop-up village’ event. The event was organised in partnership with over 40 community groups and comprised of multiple activities that everyone could get involved and have fun with. Both service users and staff were involved in organising the event, which received a significant amount of media attention. Ultimately the event brought communities together and Liverpool Council signed the Time to Change pledge soon afterwards.


Nominated by people using our services for the team that has made the most difference in supporting them on their recovery journey. Please visit our ENRICH blog post to read the nominations in full. Below we have included extracts from the winning nominations.

Winner: Richmond Fellowship Colindale

“When I came to Colindale I was very vulnerable… I wasn’t coping well.
My key worker Sandra informed me that I was going to make decisions on the support I wanted… Staff supported me to do a risk assessment and to ask for permission for me to keep my cat which was allowed. This was the first time anyone had ever given me the chance to say what I wanted to do…
I have not self harmed for over a year now and I attend an arts group, horse riding and do voluntary work helping disabled children to ride horses and groom them. After doing these activities for a year, I gained more confidence and for the first time I am in a relationship. My boyfriend is really supportive and we became engaged in April last year. I am getting married in November this year and I recently found out that I am pregnant with my first child.
I thank staff at Colindale who helped me to gain my skills and to become independent and have enough confidence to move on into the community”.

Highly Commended: Richmond Fellowship Bletchley and Bucks Employment Service

“I was referred to Richmond Fellowship to help me look into voluntary work three years ago, due to very low self esteem, secondary to my mental health problems. I was very low and had little hope of working in my life.
Working with the service I became a strong, more confident person with a sense of direction.
I felt important and heard – a person, not an illness.
After my experiments with voluntary work I realised I was sitting in the place that could offer me exactly what I was wishing for all that time – a friendly, understanding, patient, passionate environment. I became Bletchley Employment Service volunteer administrator.
Over my time here I’ve become unrecognisable. I have so much more confidence and I’ve rediscovered my passion for the countryside and outdoors. Even now I am in disbelief that I will be attending college to study Countryside Management this coming September.
Thank you Richmond Fellowship Bletchley. You will always be part of my heart and I’ll never forget what you’ve done for me”’.







Congratulations to all of our winners and thank you to everyone who nominated.



Mental health and Mindful Employer headlines at Swindon CIPD gathering

The Swindon branch of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development will host an awareness session at New College in March for its local membership on the issues of mental health in the workplace.

Organised in association with the Swindon Mindful Employer Network, which is co-ordinated by Richmond Fellowship, the event looks at managing stress at work, identifying stress in ourselves and colleagues and explores the benefits of being a Mindful Employer. Guest speakers include Melanie Richens, Chair of the Swindon Mindful Employer Network, Geoff Windle of Lift Psychology and Adrian Embling of  Mindset Wessex.

David Latham, who manages the Swindon Mindful Employer Network for Richmond Fellowship, said: “We’re grateful to the Swindon CIPD for inviting us back to speak to their membership on the important matters relating to mental health in the workplace.  I’m particularly pleased that we’re joined by some accomplished and highly knowledgeable guest speakers who can provide advice to HR professionals. We realise that mental health – particularly stress – is of growing concern to the business community.”

Jules Goddard, Swindon and North Wilts CIPD events co-ordinator, feels these types of awareness sessions are becoming more popular: “HR professionals are facing increasing issues and problems involving mental health and the possible sickness absence associated with them. The truth is that we can’t ignore or dismiss the problems caused by stress and the damage it is doing to individuals and businesses everywhere.  I’m delighted the Swindon Mindful Employer Network, Lift Psychology and Mindset Wessex are able to join us for this eagerly anticipated event.”

Sickness absence statistics over the last decade show an alarming increase in employees taking time away from the workplace for mental health reasons and in particular stress.  This session will explore the issues around managing stress at work and how we identify the signs of mental illness in our colleagues and ourselves. We shall also explore the benefits of businesses being positive on mental health matters and developing resilience – and transforming into a mindful employer.

This event takes place at New College, Swindon on Thursday March 20th. Booking is essential through the CIPD

Find out more about our Swindon employment services.

Stockport to pilot scheme to embed ‘People Powered Health’ principles

Richmond Fellowship Stockport is piloting a scheme with the local council to embed ‘People Powered Health’ principles locally.

The team has been awarded £8,000 for three months by Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council to help reduce the number of people with long term conditions needing an emergency hospital admission or presenting at A&E.

The pilot aims to ensure that the ‘People Powered Health’ principles of co-production, increasing peer/volunteer workforce and encouraging providers, service users and commissioners to work together to provide services that communities need, are embedded locally.

It also aims to improve people’s quality of life, reducing demand for formal health and social care services, including investment in the third sector and test a more cost effective model of working. The idea is to improve pathways to access support, including social crisis services.

Find out more about our Stockport services.


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