Michael, a Peer Support Worker at our Chichester service talks about his experience of loneliness to mark Mental Health Awareness Week and tips to help overcome feeling alone.
This year Mental Health Awareness Week is tackling loneliness. As a provider of mental health support across England, we see day in and day out the impact that social isolation and loneliness can have on people’s mental health. The pandemic has only made this worse.
All our services across Richmond Fellowship work to combat loneliness. Whether you’re having an at-home visit from someone in our community service team or gathering for lunch living in one of our supported housing services, our staff are there building safe spaces for the people we support. Throughout the pandemic all our services made sure they continued delivering this support at a time it was needed most. Our services helped people feel less alone.
So, what can you expect from us this week?
This year we wanted to keep things simple and recognise the important work of our amazing staff and services – not just for delivering high quality support throughout the pandemic, but also for all they do to help people feel less alone.
So, on our social media we’ll be showing how our services, staff and people we support combat loneliness. Some of our staff will be sharing their experiences with loneliness to help break the stigma and encourage people to seek support for their mental health.
We’ll also be sharing a RadioSparky Podcast featuring Nicholas, Peer Support Coordinator at Crawley Staying Well, one of our Crisis Havens in Surrey about his experience with loneliness and how the service supports people in their local area.
How do our models to support recovery tackle loneliness?
At Richmond Fellowship we have various models to support recovery including Employment Services, Residential Recovery (including Supported Housing and CQC Registered Care Homes), Community Based Services, Crisis Services and Domestic Abuse Services. Each working in their own specialised way to make recovery reality for the people we support.
- Models like our Crisis Services are a lifeline for people experiencing a mental health crisis, acting as a sanctuary when people feel most alone. People can find respite either within our Crisis Houses, or peer and professional support in our Crisis Havens.
- Our Community-based Services bring people together to connect. They give people the confidence to get back into society through community groups and at-home support with shopping, finances and independent living. These services are essential in reaching people who are isolated and feeling lonely.
- As for our housing services, living around likeminded people and having a safe space to grow and recover is hugely beneficial in tackling loneliness and isolation. Our housing services deliver either 24-hour or 12-hour support. Our staff, as well as the other residents, are there to support people on their recovery journeys and to ensure they never feel alone.
- Our Employment Services keep in regular contact with the people we support, checking in on their job applications and CV writing, but also their mental health and any other difficulties they might be having. Our employment services work hard to get the people we support into employment that is right for and interests them.
- Our Domestic Abuse Services are there for people affected by domestic abuse who are in situations that can leave them feeling entirely alone and isolated.
Make sure you are following us on our Facebook and Twitter. Don’t forget, we are here, a safe space is available for you to also feel less alone. Find out about your local Richmond Fellowship services here.
Restrictions may have eased but the impact of the pandemic continues to bite, with recent figures showing that mental ill health has increased amongst adults and young people. We know that people will need support and services like ours ahead more than ever and we are proudly able to deliver that support and be part of the solution ahead to mental health.
However, without our Recovery Workers, this support wouldn’t exist. They are our frontline staff, providing the direct support that makes recovery a reality for many people every year. We are proud of our recovery workers and the important work they put in to make recovery reality for the people we support. We want to send out a huge thank you to all our recovery workers for their dedication to continue delivering this needed support to people experiencing mental ill health.
So, what is it like to be a recovery worker at Richmond Fellowship and what does the role actually involve? This week you’re going to be hearing from staff in a whole range of different services and models to support recovery. People we support will be sharing their stories and how the support they received from their Recovery Workers made a real difference in their lives. And this month’s Radio Sparky will be talking to staff at Holder House about their work, and what being a Recovery Worker with Richmond Fellowship has led to for them.
You won’t want to miss out on the week, and we can’t wait to share some of the stories of our recovery workers. Make sure you follow us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn and check out #RFRecoveryWorkers to stay up to date!
Our recovery workers are inspiring individuals that make a real difference in people’s lives every day. Much of their work can be very challenging but equally rewarding. You could also be a part of our team of recovery workers across England. Why not see if there are vacancies in your area and start your journey with us as a recovery worker? See our vacancies here.
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.
Every month on our social media accounts, we take the time to really explore one of our models to support recovery. You may already have seen our Crisis Services Week and Supported Housing Week. But we aren’t just a housing charity! We also deliver 38 specialist employment services to individuals experiencing mental ill health to help regain or retain meaningful employment, training, education or volunteering opportunities. Ones that are right for and tailored to them. Last year we delivered employment support to 3,126 people!
So this week we’re going to be opening the door to our Employment Services. Our employment teams across England help to communicate with employers to make reasonable adjustments and provide the support needed to better manage mental health at work. They help people experiencing mental ill health to feel safe and comfortable in their working environment.
“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” – A person we support, Kirklees Employment Service.
Our employment advisors meet regularly with the people we support to help develop a detailed work preference profile to ensure the work is suited to the individual. Individuals 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.
“Our services give people a massive boost of confidence and assistance in developing key skills that they wouldn’t necessarily receive support with elsewhere. We are able to help them get back into society and give routine and structure back to their lives.” – Employment Advisor, BANeS Employment Service.
- We’ll be hearing directly from staff working in our employment services.
- We’ll be sharing the recovery stories of people we support and letting you know about the exciting job opportunities they now have thanks to our employment teams.
- Maybe you’ve thought about wanting to work within a mental health charity? We’ll be sharing what it’s like to work within our employment services, hearing from staff about what their day-to-days look like.
- Becky, one of our Employment Specialists at our BANeS Employment Service will be giving us some insight into her role in our RadioSparky Podcast.
- Kirklees Employment Service open their doors to us and let us know what’s coming up as they celebrate their newly renewed contract to continue delivering employment services to the people we support.
“We work with such a variety of people who all have different strengths, support needs, and life experiences that we learn so much as we help them achieve their goals.” – Employment Advisor, Kirklees Employment Service.
You’re not going to what to miss out so make sure you follow us on Twitter and like our Facebook page to stay up to date on all things Employment Services. Looking for employment support in your area? Use our find a service tool to see support near you.
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.
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.
According to Public Health England, over 800,000 children witness domestic abuse a year. A staggering figure that will require huge support to ensure these children still have a healthy and positive development into adolescence. We must support and safeguard young people and children impacted by domestic abuse, as well as addressing the emotional, cognitive and behavioural impact that can be developed from witnessing domestic abuse. Delivering children therapy is just one way we work to address the impact of domestic abuse.
Our Children Therapy is delivered in many different ways, and dependant on age; though most support is delivered through 1:1 sessions. Our service enables children and young people to address the emotional impact of domestic abuse. By offering a safe, consistent and confidential space, children and young people are able to process difficult and confusing experiences. Our play and creative arts therapy sessions are non-directive and child-centred, we encourage young people to explore what best works for them and their needs. You can find out more about this support and how to be referred here.
Today we are sharing the experiences of the children we support, collated and presented by our Children Therapy Practitioners. We hope to give some insight into what support looks like for children and their families impacted by domestic abuse. You can find out more about our range of domestic abuse services here.
The names have been changed to protect the identities of people we support.
Lydia’s support through Children Therapy
In sessions Lydia has mentioned that she feels calm and relaxed and that most of the time she doesn’t really feel like this. Especially when she’s at school she feels overwhelmed with all the noises, the people and busyness of the school day.
In our sessions, we have been identifying the things that Lydia already does to help her find that calmness, especially when she feels like she may be emotionally overwhelmed. Lydia has identified, going to her bedroom for ‘time out’ or to ‘cool off’ as a good thing to do to take her out of an emotional situation. Lydia also uses singing and dancing for the times she has lots of feelings, singing and dancing is especially helpful for when she feels hurt, or that she may say something she doesn’t want too.
I have been working closely with Lydia’s mum in tandem to my sessions with Lydia, to think about things mum could be using at home to support with Lydia’s emotion regulation. Mum recognised that Lydia loves making art and crafts, so they created their own feelings cards so Lydia can safely show mum her feelings. They have also been practising some mindfulness together, such as body scans, nostril breathing and belly breathing. I have been talking to mum about the neuroscience around mindfulness how it can support the left and the right side of the brain to work together, emotion + rationale = wise mind!
For mum this has been something she has found helpful too and has invested in her own self soothing and to help practice her own mindfulness.
Charlie’s support through Children Therapy
Charlie has engaged well with therapy and has attended 9 of his scheduled 12 sessions, he has used the sessions to create a therapy space that is meaningful to him. Charlie has been reflecting on his past experiences of loss and trauma. He reflected that:
‘I have thought about stuff in the past that I have never thought about, and this has helped me to feel better about the past’.
Charlie has used the therapy space primarily for talking and said:
‘this is the calmest I have ever felt, I have found it hard to speak to other people, at school or with mum. Coming to therapy feels good’.
He has been able to express things that he has felt unsure about and been able to identify how he wishes to change parts of his life.
Charlie wishes to continue with therapy and understands that it has a positive impact on his life and his relationships. This was felt too by mum who has said she has found Charlie to be much calmer at home and their relationship, which was fraught at times, is becoming closer. Charlie has been supportive towards mum and her own health needs.
We hope hearing these experiences helps understanding the impact domestic abuse can have on children, and what support can look like. Make sure you continue to follow along with #OurDAServices to find out more about the support of our domestic abuse services. Stay tuned for our 16 Days of Action against Domestic Abuse campaign beginning on 25 November. Follow us here on Twitter, and like our Facebook page.
This week we are focussing on our Domestic Abuse Services. Did you know we deliver domestic abuse services in London and across the Midlands? We have two divisions within our charity that are specialist providers in supporting victims/survivors, children, young people, and perpetrators of abuse. Our domestic abuse divisions are pioneers, who together have over 40 years of specialist experience. In fact, our Domestic Violence Perpetrator Programme delivered by our DVIP division was one of the first to be accredited by the official accreditation body in the UK, Respect.
Later this week, from 25 November, our domestic abuse services will be taking part in 16 Days of Action against Domestic Abuse, sharing important information and raising awareness about domestic abuse.
So in the run up to 16 Days of Action, we’re dedicating our social media to sharing information about how our domestic abuse services support and safeguard people with the aim of ending domestic abuse and the harm caused to victims, children, and families.
Our domestic abuse services deliver support to victims/survivors through 1:1 and group support, children and young people through our children therapy service, and perpetrators of abuse through our Domestic Violence Perpetrator Programme. Our DVIP service also has a specialist Family Courts Team, that offer domestic violence risk assessments in the public and private family courts. In addition, both of our divisions offer a specialist service to young people using abuse towards a parent/carer through our YUVA service. You can find out more about our South based service here, and North based here.
Make sure you follow us on Twitter and like our Facebook page to keep up with #OurDAServices. You can also follow DVIP (Domestic Violence Intervention Project) on Twitter, our provider of domestic abuse support based in London and as of recently, Surrey.
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.