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.

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.

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.

 

Community Services Week – hearing from Wiltshire Recovery & Social Inclusion

We are proud to be part of  Recovery Focus– a group of charities providing specialist support services to individuals and families living with the effects of mental ill health, drug and alcohol use, gambling and domestic abuse. This week all our partner charities are highlighting the work and impact of #OurCommunityServices across the group.  

We heard from Wiltshire RSI about what they’ve been up to and how they have responded to Covid-19 restrictions. Wiltshire RSI also shared some great testimonials from people they’ve supported as well as giving us some insight into what it’s like to work in a Community Service.

What has Wiltshire RSI been up to? 

Wiltshire RSI have been working hard to ensure their community still feel connected during lockdown. They started the Lockdown Well-Being Challenge, which included four wellbeing goals per week of the November lockdown. They focused on bringing people together on their social media pages and online social group to share their achievements and creations during lockdown. Wiltshire RSI’s online social group has grown from strength to strength in the last 12 months. They were able to enjoy some in person and virtual events whilst they could last summer, including their picnic for recovery and pop-up event at Trowbridge sensory garden. 

Wiltshire RSI have been working to support those in the community with sensory disturbances, they did this by setting up the Hearing Voices GroupThe aim of the group is to provide a safe space for people in the community who experience sensory disturbances (e.g. auditory or visual) to come together and share their experiences and coping strategies in order to provide mutual support. During the pandemic this group is one that went online and is continuing to run via Zoom 

Wiltshire RSI has also been conducting some important research that identifies what service provision is available to those in the LGBTQ+ community and how the service can improve their accessibility. Wiltshire RSI are also working to establish similar research for the BAME community and for people with Autism. This is part of an ongoing development of how the service meets the needs of its community.  

Hearing from our staff 

As part of #OurCommunityServices at Recovery Focus wwere able to hear what it’s like to work in a Community Service from a Community Link Advisor and Volunteer/Peer Support Coordinator, they also gave an insight into how Wiltshire RSI has digitally adapted to the pandemic. Check out what they had to say! 

Why do you enjoy working in our community services? What does community services mean to you?  

I enjoy working in the community services because I like making a positive impact on individuals’ lives. I like watching individuals grow in confidence and truly helping to get them back into the community. I feel that every person should be given a chance to achieve things in their lives no matter how big or small. I enjoy being able to build good relationships with service users, their families and other colleagues which enables them to get the best support tailored to them. Community Link Advisor

What does a day to day look like working in our community services?

A typical day working with Richmond Fellowship Community Service is supporting someone with their confidence, their wellbeing, helping them gain their independence backu and helping with social inclusion. Since Covid-19 restrictions have been put in place my typical day to day has changed. I am now supporting people digitally and helping them get online more. This can be by helping them get on zoom and joining online groups instead of a face-to-face groupAlthough my day to day has changed, I still support service users with their confidence and getting back into the community.” Community Link Advisor 

My current role as Peer/Volunteer Coordinator working from home within Covid-19 restrictions is very different to 12 months ago. My support and coordinating responsibilities are all carried out in “virtual 1:1” format, using audio and video platforms. Many new ideas have been developed and will be taken forward as appropriate, when “normal” operational procedures are back in place. Volunteer/Peer Support Coordinator 

What impact does your service have on the people you support and the wider community? 

I feel it has a massive impact on the people we support. We give them hope and a purpose as we help them achieve small meaningful goals that they set themselves. Our support is very service user led and we will work with them to develop their own ideas in to achievements. For example we will support someone in attending a local group and once their confidence has grown we will then step back and let them gain their independence.” Community Link Advisor 

It is a major contributing factor in clients’ mental health recovery journey. It also produces benefit for the wider community via the impact of people engaging in a widening range of community based activities.” Volunteer/Peer Support Coordinator 

How has COVID19 and lockdown restrictions changed the way you deliver your service? 

We have had to adapt to the changing restrictions in order to offer a range of support to our clients. We have had to minimise face to face appointments to stop the spread of Covid-19. This has meant that group activities, public transport and volunteering have had to be placed on hold meaning that social inclusion is decreasing, some individuals haven’t been able to socialise or make new friends. However this impact resulted in Richmond Fellowship becoming more digitally focused. I have been doing zoom calls and zoom groups with service users and Richmond Fellowship have created a fun weekly zoom social which has had a positive impact on people’s wellbeing. This is because they are able to socialise and chat to others even though they are at home.” Community Link Advisor

What has your service learnt from the pandemic and what will you continue to do as we move out of lockdown? 

We have learnt that we work well as a team. We have provided support to colleagues/friends when things have been challenging. definitely know that without the support from my colleagues I wouldn’t have been able to get through the pandemic. 
We will continue to provide a tailored support to service users and support them to increase independence and social inclusion.” Community Link Advisor 

Everyone has been affected in different ways, and virtual support is not always easy to provide. We will no doubt take the best of Covid-19 restriction procedures and blend them into post lockdown operational strategies.” Volunteer/Peer Support Coordinator 

What is to come for your community service?

“Richmond Fellowship is going through the tender process currently. Although uncertain of what is to come we do know what we will be delivering the best support we can to our clients.” Community Link Advisor 

 A new 5 year contract hopefully: Resulting from a tendering process currently in its final stages. Volunteer/Peer Support Coordinator 

Hearing from the people we support 

The work our Community Service staff have been putting in has been remarkable in ensuring communities remain connected and that we minimise social isolation. But let’s hear from the people we support about how the Wiltshire RSI service has positively impacted their lives:

 “It’s meant an awful lot. It’s like a little family of staff and friends who I know I can talk to and be honest to.  It’s helped me feel I have value and purpose.”   

 “Seeing people (like yourself) managing your mental health was important. It’s actually meeting people with lived experienced that is the key. The feeling of not being alone has helped me to accept the illness. I’m not happy about it but I think I just accept it is what it is.” 

 My support worker made a plan with me which we have both worked towards. I am now able to go out and about on my own, which I haven’t been able to do for nearly 5 years. This has really improved the quality of life. 

“My support worker made me feel like a person and with Richmond Fellowship’s support my confidence has improved and I feel more able to live a better life.”

 We are so glad to hear such positive feedback about our Wiltshire RSI Community Service! Thank you to the Wiltshire RSI team for your support in Community Services Week. Make sure you continue to follow along with the week on #OurCommunityServices and follow the social media accounts across the group! Find out more about Wiltshire RSI and how you can get in contact with them here. 

Employment services: Minderjit’s recovery story

We’re proud to be highlighting the work of our Employment services this week!

Minderjit, a person we support at our Redbridge and Havering IPS Employment service shares her personal recovery story:

“Before I was contacted by Richmond Fellowship I felt hopeless and was unable to find employment! I accessed the service on the 20 March 2020; Sabrina from Richmond Fellowship got in touch with me and told me she would work alongside me to achieve my employment goals.

I found working with her helped me find my feet and she is very understanding and extremely helpful.

I would have weekly appointments with her and complete the target we would set for each session, whether that was completing applications or calling potential employers. I would find each week that I would get closer and closer to my employment goal because of target setting.

Sabrina helped me get into studying a childcare course and assisted me with getting a place at a local nursery for my placement. This was achieved by Sabrina completing some employment engagement on my behalf, speaking to the manager to secure the placement at the childcare centre with an agreement of paid employment at the end of my placement period. I was happy with this outcome and was excited to start my new journey in childcare.

I couldn’t thank her enough for all the support she has given me! The service from Richmond Fellowship is excellent and I would recommend it to those whom need help finding employment”.

Listen to our January 2021 Radio Sparky podcast where we hear from John Veir, Employment Advisor at Richmond Fellowship’s Cambridgeshire Employment service by clicking here.

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.

A day in the life of a Recovery Work – Apply today

Right now, we are looking for someone like you to join our team in Northampton where we support people with learning disabilities, autism and mental health problems. Are you caring and compassionate? Looking for a role where you can make a real difference to people’s lives every day? Welcome to Richmond Fellowship as a Recovery Worker. In this blog post, we take you through the day in the life of a recovery worker.

A typical day at Richmond Fellowship? To be honest, there isn’t one. One of the best things about this job is the variety. When you are arriving for your shift you are never sure what is going to happen. One day you will be helping people develop the skills to live independently, the next you could be interacting with healthcare professionals developing their care plan or maybe you will gain further qualifications through Richmond Fellowship’s training scheme.

To start the day the team meets for a handover from the previous shift. This is an opportunity to talk about plans for the day, which person you will focus your time on and sharing out tasks. The handover paperwork is completed to make sure we don’t forget anything. We’re commissioned to provide these services and our commissioners have expectations. We must keep records making sure the building is a safe place to live and work. These tasks are built into the shift leaving plenty of time for getting out and about with the people we support. Then it is off to see if anyone needs a hand to get up, washed, dressed, and ready for the day.

Once breakfast is finished it is time to plan the day. Each person has a set of life goals and it is the job of a recovery worker to encourage them to work towards those goals. For example, someone may have a goal to find a relationship. We break down that goal into smaller, manageable chunks. To meet someone special they may need to join groups and activities. With that in mind, you would spend time together searching out groups of interest and building up their confidence to attend. It is easy to see how each day can contribute to achieving that long term goal.

This job is all about supporting people to do things their way. It would be easy to give people a list of local activities but that takes away from helping someone learn how to search and find activities and events that suit them and their interests. That can all take time and it must be done at a pace to suit the person or the journey to becoming more independent is interrupted. Bringing ideas and suggestions for the people who live at the service creates a real buzz when we find something new to try.

You don’t need to have loads of experience of recovery work or of learning disabilities, autism or mental ill health to be good at this job. Richmond Fellowship provides a lot of training to develop the technical knowledge but this job is all about building relationships with the people who live in the house and your colleagues. If you have the basic values of kindness, patience and compassion everything else can be learned.
There may be appointments to arrange and attend. There are often visits from other professionals who are involved in people’s lives such as care coordinators, nurses or psychiatrists. You will talk with them and the person you support to develop their care plan or take the next step on their recovery journey. There are families and friends to spend time with. You will need good communication skills and a positive attitude to meet all these people. This job is all about providing as much or as little support as needed to make sure that people are living the life they choose.

The end of the day tends to be focused on preparing for bed and encouraging good sleep. Sleep is an essential part of being well for everyone and developing healthy sleep routine is a great way to get the best out of the next day. After you leave you can do some shopping with the exclusive discounts for Richmond Fellowship employees or maybe cycle home on the bike provided by our cycle to work scheme.

It can be a demanding and full-on job. It requires a lot of energy to stay motivated and energetic even when people are lethargic and disengaged. You won’t be on your own. Richmond Fellowship is a team and there is a lot of support for this role including training, monthly supervision with your manager, and team meetings. There is a staff council so you know you’re views will be heard at the top. It is essential to make good use of all of these tools to keep your batteries charged and the ideas flowing.

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.