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 – 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.

World Mental Health Day – Leaving Hospital After Ten Years

World Mental Health Day (10 October) is the international day for global mental health awareness, education, and advocacy against social stigma.  This year’s theme is “Mental Health for All”, and we are sharing stories of people that we support that show how important that is. Maggs, a person we support living in one of our 24 hour community support services, shares her story of moving from the criminal justice system into our services.

Hi! My name is Maggs and I would like to share the highs and lows of my discharge from hospital into 24hr support in the community. Before this, I spent ten years in various hospitals around the country. I think I should start from the beginning: I have been in a very low and difficult place for a long time. In 2010 I was in a place I didn’t think I could escape. My family could also see the darkness of that place in my eyes. Ten years on I can now finally accept how mentally and physically poorly I was.

Over the last ten years I have spent time in prison (for my own safety and to give the courts time to be able to apply a 37 hospital order). Once I had that order, I went to my first hospital not expecting that I would be going into a further three hospitals after that.

After being in the hospital, I gained a lot of confidence and accepted the person I used to be.

I was discharged from hospital into the community within a 24hr support housing service. This was alongside another lady who had been in the same hospital as me, so it was good to know someone who lived there too. There were also ten men who lived at the house; however this didn’t affect me even though I have a bad history with men. To be fair they were a good laugh! Eventually my friend moved in to her own flat with support from staff. It was sad to see her go but I was also so happy for her as she had worked hard to get her own flat.

I found it hard after she left, because all I was listening to were ten men bantering, swearing and being inappropriate with what they were saying and the manner they were saying it in. But now when I look back on this I know we all were struggling with mental health problems and everyone deals with these issues in so many different ways.

I know it wasn’t down to the individuals in the house that I had relapsed again, it was because I had put high expectations on myself to mend people who were struggling too.

At this point, I didn’t feel as confident as I had when I left hospital but that was because I wanted to fulfil my dreams of helping others who have been in the same position as me. I thought that if I could help anyone who is struggling with their mental health in any way shape or form, I would be fulfilled. While all this was going on, I had family back home who had been in a bad place too due to watching their own mum try to take her own life so many times. I loved them so so much but I knew that I was in the way of them following their dreams too. So, as I said at the beginning, I was admitted to a further three hospitals over the next five years.

I was at my last hospital for nearly two years and during this stay I developed many skills. These skills were then tested to their limits because I wanted to be a mum, a grandma and be with my family more than I had been. I questioned what would help me find the true Maggs underneath all the heartbreak over the years, and how I would make sense of the last ten years. I really valued the skills I learned during DBT, and I still use them to this day.

So, moving into the community was exciting, happy, scary and emotional for me. I was moving back home to my family, and I was excited as I was able to be a mum again and felt so lucky to be a grandma to seven gorgeous grandchildren. I wasn’t the only person who was emotional about moving into the community, my family were too. They had been waiting for this day for a long time.

Due to Covid-19 I was unable to see the property I was moving to. Two of the staff visited before lockdown to assess me for the accommodation and I was accepted. When I realised I wouldn’t be able to see where I was moving to, I judged the staff that came to visit me who were really lovely and approachable. I felt that I would be okay just to move in. I think my thoughts were to push myself that bit further because I knew I was so far away from the Maggs I was in 2010.

I had also met my care coordinator Kevin and my social worker Lydia. They were both so lovely and approachable too, I knew this was something big and such a positive and an amazing move waiting for me to grab with both hands.

World Mental Health Day – Kelechi’s story

World Mental Health Day (10 October) is the international day for global mental health awareness, education, and advocacy against social stigma. This year’s theme is “Mental Health for All”, and we are sharing stories of people that we support that show how important that is. Kelechi Chioba, a person supported by Richmond Fellowship, tells us her story about battling mental ill health as a Black, LGBTIQA+, disabled woman who is also a survivor of domestic abuse.

I had a mental health disorder and polio when I was younger which means I have to use a wheelchair. Before my relapse I was a very active public speaker and activist. I travelled the country giving talks, training and meetings at universities. As a bi-sexual Black woman I spoke about a range of subjects including domestic abuse, LGBTQ+ identity, having a disability and feminism. I wanted to make a change as a domestic abuse survivor. I also talk about encouraging diversity in leadership.

It was after my hysterectomy that I broke down again. I felt down and hated giving talks, writing and my life. I used to love this.

In the Black community they have a myth – “Mental health is the white man’s disease”. There is no halfway. If you have mental health issues you must be mad. As a Black woman there is an expectation to be strong. You cannot be seen as weak and must keep your dignity. You may be dying inside but you can’t show it. In my church people would not sit next to me because of sexuality. When I experience racism in the UK I just want to run to the protection of the Black community but I am rejected because of my sexuality. I have no one to lean on. I am stuck in the middle of two worlds. This had a huge impact on my mental health. A mixture of culture, religion and beliefs all impacts me. Once, when I was sectioned and receiving treatment, a Black mental health nurse said “why are you here? If you are a believer in Christ you should not be here.” It is also hard to access support.

Sometimes you go to see an expert and there is no one from your community you can see who would understand your situation. You can’t just walk in and expect to be believed. It is a double punishment.

Eventually, I saw a psychiatrist who referred me to counselling. When I refused counselling, the doctor gave me Richmond Fellowship’s number. When I first started sessions with my recovery worker we made a checklist. We ticked off how I felt so I could visualize where I was mentally. We spoke every week. Before I relapsed, I was confident speaking to groups. Now I was scared of seeing people. So we focused on anxiety management and building confidence. Once I called my recovery worker and said I had trouble sleeping so we focused on sleep management. I was always listened to and could make decisions myself. We tailored the sessions to what I had experienced that week. This is something I really liked.

I didn’t feel seeing my recovery worker was working at first. I now realise it was having an impact within me. I started to find my passion again. It did not come all at once. It came little by little. I remember telling my recovery worker I am ready to give talks again. Everyone was so happy for me and so was I.

I came to Richmond Fellowship to get my passion back. I wanted to put my life back together and pick myself up. When I first came I said “I just want to get better. I want to know how to get a grip with managing my mental health”.

I now want to make a change. My life is hard. I am in a wheelchair and the discrimination and stereotypes are too much. I want to fix this world and encourage inclusivity in the community, government and in legislation. I want everyone to be equal and then I will be happy. This is why I go to give talks. I want to tell others to be proud of who and what you are. This is key for your mental health and you should always seek help if you need.

If you want to find out more about Kelechi and her recovery journey, please search her name on YouTube.

Big White Wall: New name, continued support

We are excited to announce that our partners at Big White Wall are re-naming.

The service, which is available for free to all of our staff, people we support and volunteers provides a safe online community to support your mental health, 24/7.

Big White Wall has undergone significant transformation in past few years, and they feel that it is the right time to move the brand forward. Through research and open conversation, they have chosen a name that truly represents the company and their values of inclusivity, positivity and belonging, regardless of gender, ethnicity, sexuality or religion.

What’s next?

At the beginning of August the new name will be announced, and you will start seeing communications from the service that look different, including an updated URL and logo. Up until the beginning of August the service will continue to operate as Big White Wall.

The service name is changing, but the commitment to providing safe and accessible mental health support remains consistent.

If you aren’t yet a member, and you feel like you need a place to talk visit www.bigwhitewall.com today to find out more.

NHS Long Term Plan Comment

In response to the publication of the NHS Long Term Plan, Derek Caren, Chief Executive of Richmond Fellowship said:

We welcome the focus on mental ill health in the long term funding plan. Currently, there is massive pressure on facilities with the result that many people are not getting the help they need quickly enough or near enough to their families and friends.

For example, only last week, a woman in one of our crisis services who needed to be accommodated under the Mental Health Act had to go over 300 miles away from home to get a bed.

We hope that this plan will result in a real step change in the way mental health services are viewed and resourced.

Independent Review of the Mental Health Act

Last year the Prime Minister announced an Independent Review of the Mental Health Act – which sets out when a person can be detained and treated in hospital against their wishes – to look at how it is used and how it can be improved.

Over the course of 2018, the Review has heard from thousands of people who have been detained under the Act, and from their families and carers, about their experiences.

The Independent Review has now published its final report with around 150 recommendations for change. The Prime Minister has welcomed the report and announced that the Government plans to bring forward a new mental health bill.

Derek Caren, Chief Executive of Richmond Fellowship commented:

As Richmond Fellowship approaches its 60th anniversary in 2019, we’re celebrating our history and looking forward to positive changes ahead.

The development of our community based services coincided with a previous Mental Health Act of 1959, which helped establish the pathway for many people to leave hospital and live in the community. We strongly welcome and endorse the recommendations of the Independent Review of the Mental Health Act of 1983.

Strengthening people’s rights and their ability to challenge decisions under the Act when people are at their most vulnerable is a key development and necessary improvement to deliver better mental health services. We want to see these changes enacted by the Government as soon as possible alongside further investment in community based preventative services to reduce the number of people who are being detained.

Read more

Motherhood and Bipolar – Jodi’s story

Jodi is a mother to Molly and has bipolar and PTSD. She first came to using our crisis house after a break down in her relationship left her in need of support.

Following her time in the crisis house she has gone on to have her baby girl and has risen to the challenges of mother hood. In her new blog she tells her story: Read more