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.

Richmond Fellowship Castle service becomes part of Young Futures Partnership in Cambridge

Young Futures Partnership (YFP) is pleased to share that we have been awarded the Young People’s Housing Related Support service, which provides support and accommodation for young people who are homeless or threatened with homelessness, in Cambridge City and South Cambridgeshire, by Cambridgeshire County Council.

Richmond Fellowship’s Castle service in Cambridge city is proud to be part of the partnership which also includes CHS Group, Orwell Housing Association and Riverside.

Each provider has a long history of supporting homeless young people in Cambridgeshire.

YFP will be run by a Partnership Board and an Operational Team. It will also include the Young People’s Voice to act as a sounding board for the evolution of the service model, oversee client outcomes and review local policies and procedures.

This new partnership will make a difference to the lives of many young people in Cambridge, drawing on our collective experience, expertise and resources to offer a consistent and quality service.

The partnership will work together closely to ensure the service develops and evolves in line with any changes in the operating environment, by pooling information and resources and working directly with Commissioners as members of the Partnership Board. YFP will have a ‘helicopter’ view of current provision, identify emerging gaps and trends and seek out opportunities to innovate in response.

The key service developments that are currently being worked on include:

  • A new referral process; with a single point of access for referrals
  • A new delivery model, consisting of a ‘Hub and Spoke’ approach
  • Community support
  • A broad range of accommodation-based services.

Kerry Stiles, Area Manager for Richmond Fellowship’s East Anglia services said:

“We’re thrilled to be working alongside other providers within the Young Futures Partnership to ensure some of the most vulnerable people with mental ill health are supported in Cambridge. The Castle service has a long and rich history of providing supported housing in the city for 16 to 25-year-olds and we’re pleased to be able to continue offering that level of support”.

The partnership will be sharing more details in the near future, but in the meantime, if you have any questions or would just like to find out more, please contact Kerry Stiles, Area Manager (East Anglia) at Richmond Fellowship. (kerry.stiles@richmondfellowship.co.uk).

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.

Radio Sparky: February 2022 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 we’re focussing on our Employment services as part of our Employment services week on social media. Matt Webb, Communications and Marketing Officer speaks to Becky Ballentyne from our Bath, North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire (BANeS) Employment service about what her role as an Employment Advisor involves, her journey to becoming an Employment Advisor and how she finds working for a national mental health charity.

“Honestly, every day is completely different. On a Monday morning it’s admin, checking emails. We have a group meeting every Monday morning to catch up on our case loads, discuss any clients that are potentially in crisis, employer engagement which is going round to chat to various employers discussing any potential job vacancies, meeting clients face-to-face in the community, discussing their needs and expectations of the service, what kind of roles they’re looking for.” – Becky, Employment Advisor, BANeS Employment service.

 

Inspired by Becky? You can also make a difference by joining us at a leading mental health charity. Check out our latest vacancies on our online jobs portal at richmondfellowship.org.uk/jobs.

Opening the doors to our Kirklees Employment Service

This week we have been hearing from staff and people we support all about what it’s like to work within and be supported by one of our Employment Services. Our employment services help people to maintain or gain meaningful employment, training, education or volunteering opportunities that are right for and tailored to them. We deliver 38 employment services across England – and one of them is Kirklees Employment Service. We’ve already heard this week from some of our Employment Advisors at Kirklees over on our social media. Today we’ll be getting even more insight into the support that the service delivers, as well as hearing from our Kirklees Service Manager about what’s coming up next for the service.

So, what does the support look like at our Kirklees Employment Service? Their team of staff let us know…

Our employment advisors work with individuals aged 18 and over experiencing mental ill health and/or hidden disabilities. We work on a 1-2-1 basis to form an individual plan on how we can work together to achieve their goals. We provide practical employment advice and support around identifying skills, finding the right job for that person, creating CVs, interview preparation and much more, including retaining employment.

There’s so much more we do in between as well; we listen to people’s worries around employment and their confidence and skills, and we really focus on empowering people to see their own value and strength – there’s really nothing better than watching someone learn to realise that they can do these things and achieve their goals.

Without a doubt Kirklees Employment Service has a huge impact on the people they support – but what do they have to say about it?

“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.” Person we support

“I have been able to find new volunteering opportunities which will strengthen my CV and have applied for jobs with the help of my employment advisor. Without her it would have been an impossible task.” Person we support

“The support that I have received from my employment advisor has enabled me to live a more confident and happy life. She has provided me with support and encouragement.” Person we support

“I felt like I was alone and back to square one, but my employment advisor made me feel like I mattered and always called at precisely the right time when I needed some help and guidance the most. I would definitely recommend the Richmond Fellowship for anyone going through difficulty with mental health.” Person we support

Kirklees Employment Service very recently won their contract to continue delivering this important support in their area. So, what’s coming up for service as they continue delivering support? Our Service Manager at Kirklees gave us an update.

“We recently won our contract to continue delivering our employment service in Kirklees. Towards the end of last year, I was lucky to be involved with the retendering of the service, working alongside our central service team. To support with this process we involved all staff, volunteers, customers, referrers and partners. We supported commissioners with consultation sessions, and made sure to use the feedback of people we support to help with identifying the needs of our service users to create a vision of a new employment service from April 2022. I was happy to see commissioners had taken on board people’s feedback from the consultation process, and the new service specification reflected the feedback of people we support.

We are always striving to increase the support we can offer to the community. As we begin a new year, and new contract, we are going to be increasing our offer to employers which will show us providing tailored support to organisations around mental health in the workplace, and support with the retention of employees.

We are linking up with far more organisations across Kirklees to provide our peer workshops around mental health and wellbeing into the community. We are also going to be providing community transition and integration workshops to minority groups.

We are excited about our new website that is currently under construction. The website will help us to reach even more people across Kirklees. The website will host some online guides to developing employability like a CV builder and interview tips. People we support will be able to seamlessly book onto peer support sessions and find out which service is best for them. The website will also host our new online referral system to services.

I feel lucky and privileged to be a part of shaping the future Kirklees Employment Service and supporting people across Kirklees.”

In 2021 our Kirklees Employment Service supported 472 people to find new employment, training, education or volunteering opportunities, as well as retain their current work. We can’t wait to see the impact they make this year – congratulations to the Kirklees team!

All our Employment Services put in important and necessary work to help people with mental ill health access employment opportunities. We are proud of the work they put in to inspire recovery. Check out employment services in your local area here, or find out more about Kirklees Employment Service here, as well as how to be referred to the service. 

Stay tuned to hear more from our other Employment Services across England this week. Including our Bath, North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire IPS Employment Service in this month’s Radio Sparky Podcast. Follow us on Twitter and like our Facebook page to keep up to date.

A hat trick of awards for The Old Moat Garden Centre and Cafe

Richmond Fellowship’s Old Moat Garden Centre and Cafe in Epsom, Surrey has pulled off the extraordinary feat of winning The Good Retail Awards Community Award for the third year in a row.

The Community Award recognises retailers who have made an effort to give back to their community, honouring companies who have gone above and beyond to transform and enhance the lives of others.

The Old Moat was judged in competition with retailers of all kinds from across the UK.

The Awards are organised by Modern Retail, with the results announced at the massive trade show Spring Fair at the NEC.

Matt Ellis, Garden Centre Manager said:

“To win this award once in 2020 was a huge achievement – to be now picking it up for the third time in 2022 is little short of miraculous! It is a massive tribute to everyone involved in making The Old Moat what it is – the people we support who also contribute so much as they work alongside our team, our invaluable volunteers without whom we couldn’t survive, our hardworking and hugely committed staff and our incredibly loyal and generous customers and supporters, and we thank every single one of them for making it possible”.

The judges all had very high praise for The Old Moat, their comments included:

“The Old Moat continue to show that they put their community first. They have adapted and made sure that despite significant challenges (not just the pandemic, but also a fire on their premises) they continue to offer outstanding support for those in need”.

“It’s always so uplifting to read about the Old Moat – the work they do is so important to so many. I think what impresses me the most is the resilience they have displayed, and how their connection with the community has really allowed them to bounce back as best they can”.

“The Old Moat Garden Centre and Cafe has not only provided an incredible service to so many in the local community, but their team has turned challenges into opportunities, focusing continuously on transforming the lives and futures of those with mental ill health”.

The Old Moat is a social enterprise which helps local people living with mental ill health to gain confidence, skills and qualifications working alongside staff and volunteers in a safe, supportive environment that encourages them to overcome challenges and obstacles and move on to the next step in their recovery.

To find out more about The Good Retail Awards, click here.

Radio Sparky: January 2022 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’s edition, Matt Webb, Communications and Marketing Officer speaks to Antonia Minkova from our Health and Wellbeing community about Winter Wellbeing and ways you can look after your mental health, post the Christmas and New Year holidays.

“For me, trying to be mindful and clearing my head from the clutter is a really useful way, because we really can get lost in our thoughts and maybe even our schedules and that encourages stress. So, finding a way to declutter is really great and if you use some meditation techniques, I think they really do help”. – Antonia, Leecroft House.

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.