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 

Radio Sparky: September 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 September’s edition to coincide with Recovery Focus Week, Matt Webb, Communications and Marketing Officer speaks to Vicki Pritchard, Service Manager of Richmond Fellowship’s Our Time service in Liverpool and Marshall, a person we support about a podcast series they’ve been producing in collaboration with the BBC.

Listen to the full series of ‘It’s About Time’ podcasts by clicking here.

“I was diagnosed very late in life in my 40s with Asperger’s and it really changed my life completely. It made me understand a lot of things in my life that had happened previously and why I couldn’t do the things I should’ve been able to do. Since then I’ve gone on to learn that Asperger’s is this wonderful gift that I’ve been given. I’ve always been creative and I’ve always been involved in performing and creative arts and through Richmond Fellowship, this podcasting and other courses with them, I’ve been able to do so many things that I’ve never done before”. – Marshall, person we support.

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.

Young People’s Week: Castle service’s Community Mural

Richmond Fellowship’s Castle service is based in the University City of Cambridge. The service provides Supported Housing for young people between the ages of 16 and 25. It regularly gets involved in community activities including the Mill Road Winter Fair and is very active in fundraising and organising activities for people we support.

But did you know a mural, situated in one of the most cosmopolitan areas of Cambridge was created in partnership with the service?

It’s located on the city’s Mill Road bridge, the same road as the service’s office and has been a positive talking point of the area since its creation in 2006.

The artwork was designed by Sharon, a person staying at the neighbouring Youth Foyer as part of a competition. She spoke to the Cambridge News/Cambridgeshire Live website about it in 2019:

“Castle service were wanting to find a design that would adorn the Mill Road bridge and were encouraging people staying at the Youth Foyer to submit ideas.

The winning concept would be decided by a vote after all the designs were publicly exhibited, she was told.

So, inspired by the multicultural vibrancy of Mill Road, Sharon set to work with a huge, two-metre-long piece of paper and began to create her vision.

The idea, which was intended to represent both “the community of Mill Road and the wider world,” was comprised of a series of adjoining and overlapping flags, all overlaid with a line of irises.

Sharon said: “It took about three or four months for me to actually finish it.

“I was doing it every day, even on the weekends. It was my way of trying to stay afloat and not sink into depression.

“I didn’t know where I was going to go after.”

The designs were voted on, both by members of the public and residents of the Youth Foyer and the Castle Project, and Sharon’s proposal was chosen as one of the winning designs.

So, along with volunteers and residents from the Castle service and the Cambridge Youth Foyer, she set about painting the mural in the summer of 2006.

Sharon said: “We all got together and painted it. It really brought us together.

“After that, it really helped us to remain bonded. For many of us who didn’t have anywhere to go at Christmas, it was nice to have that little feeling of community and camaraderie.”

She added: “I’m extremely proud of the effort and support put in by the volunteers who helped me to create a moment so bright in my life when there was only darkness.

“This project spring-boarded me forward into where I am now.”

Follow our social media accounts on Twitter and Facebook to keep up to date with #YoungPeoplesWeek.

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.

Bath, Swindon & Wiltshire IPS Employment service achieves Centre of Excellence status

Richmond Fellowship’s Bath, Swindon and Wiltshire IPS Employment service has been recognised as a high fidelity service and has once again become a recognised Centre of Excellence in IPS Employment Practice across the local Clinical Commissioning group by the Centre for Mental Health.

Following expansion with Wave 2 and 3 IPS funding, the Wiltshire service has grown from 7 staff to 19 across the Bath, Swindon and Wiltshire areas.

The team has been working to achieve a Centre of Excellence status for the 2 new services, building on the Wiltshire service’s original award 3 years ago.

Speaking to the Service Manager Mariana Law; Jan Hutchinson, lead auditor from the Centre for Mental Health said:

“Your team are a really vibrant and energetic group who are providing great examples of their work. Also your NHS colleagues are speaking very highly of them. I am impressed.

I am left with the lasting impression that Richmond Fellowship has been fabulously successful in recruiting a special group of people who have the right skills, but also the right attitude and are willing to go ‘the extra mile’ for their clients on a regular basis”.

The service has supported a total of 132 clients into paid employment from April 2020 up to February 2021 and a further 19 clients to retain their jobs during the coronavirus pandemic.

There are currently 23 Centres of Excellence in England and Bath, Swindon and Wiltshire will now be one of these.