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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. 

Crisis services in action, and in a pandemic – we hear from Area Manager, Jessica Fish

To end #OurCrisisServices week we hear from Jessica Fish, Area Manager in Lancashire. We started delivering Crisis interventions in Lancashire in 2017, and since then they’ve gone from strength to strength.

We are immensely proud of the impact they’ve had and the hard work our staff have put in to make this a reality – and wanted to hear direct from Jessica about the hard work behind it all.

What was the first Crisis Service in Lancashire and why was it commissioned?

It all started in 2016 when Richmond Fellowship won a contract with Lancashire Care Foundation trust to deliver two Crisis Houses across Lancashire – Chorley opened in May 2017 (Willow House) and Burnley in April 2018 (Oak House).

The services were commissioned to support the pressures around inpatient admissions and ED (Emergency Department/A&E) presentations. They were intended to offer an alternative – therapeutic interventions that would hopefully reduce the amount of people who would need an informal hospital admission.

Following the purchase of a house in Chorley, a complete refurb happened to create a 6-bedroom house including en-suite bathrooms, an office, kitchen, lounge, and an activity room. All bedrooms are fully furnished, and the house provides a ‘home away from home’ feel to ensure those using the service feel relaxed. The team did a lot of work around colour therapy and understanding how surroundings can affect a person’s mood and reduce anxiety.

What’s come since?

Since the two Crisis Houses opened in 2017/2018, the Crisis Pathway has evolved even further across Lancashire – we now provide two outreach services, three Haven services, and are set to open another Crisis House 2 March 2021.

Willow House and Oak House clearly evidenced the potential for therapeutic interventions as an alternative for those needing less intense clinical support. Situations such as a social crisis influencing someone’s mental health or managing the feelings and behaviours that come with a diagnosis such as personality disorders. The Crisis Services work with all of this, along with an even more holistic approach to a persons’ recovery.

The Crisis Houses have shown to be both cost effective, compared to an inpatient stay (in and out of area) and effective in offering a safer, less clinical environment.

What have we learnt along the way?

We have learnt a lot and developed in several areas. Multiagency working is key. The last four years have always shown that the better the multiagency working, the better the outcomes for those using the service.  We have also learnt to adapt our styles and service offer from site to site to ensure that each person gets the best they can out of the intervention sessions.

Most recently we have adapted our offer to include those who are street homeless or who have no fixed address, and to assess this on an individual basis to support recovery.

We have also learnt to adapt with the needs of the clinical teams and practitioners, to learn about where their pressures are, and see where we can support in adapting our offer to those that require more intensive support.

How has the pandemic impacted your work?

The pandemic has meant that we have had to review and adapt our offer and service delivery  regularly over the last year. Most of our support has become virtual – whether this be over the phone or over Zoom/Microsoft Teams. The impact of additional workload on the team to ensure all the government guidance is followed in order to keep everyone safe, whilst also ensuring that all virtual sessions are productive, has also been a challenge.

I’m proud of how all our staff have stepped up to the challenge of the past year – they have worked incredibly hard over the last 12 months. They have supported through service delivery changes and learnt new ways of successfully supporting and keeping people safe throughout their mental health recovery.

The pandemic has caused pressures across all services, including clinical services, and again we have had to continue reviewing our standard operating procedure to ensure we are meeting the needs of the clinical services.

What’s next?

Our current focus is Blackpool Crisis House which launches at the beginning of March! We’re determined to ensure the service provision meets the needs of the community in Blackpool.

Put simply we want to ensure that we are as successful in Blackpool as we are in our already established areas.

Mental health care in crisis

Earlier this month the government set out plans for reform of the NHS. Amongst other things the intention is to support more joined up care – and enable greater integration of services across the NHS, voluntary sector and local authorityA community-based mental health crisis First Response Service (FRS) was cited by the Secretary of State as a case study of what this joined up care looks like in practice.

At Richmond Fellowship we are delighted to see crisis provision used so clearly as a great example of sector partners working together to deliver better care to the people who need it, when they need it. 

In 2015 Derek Caren, our Chief Executive said: “As a voluntary sector organisation we’re committed to playing our part in creating joined-up services that can truly provide the best possible care for people with mental health problems, especially in a crisis situation when individuals are at their most vulnerable.”

We know that presenting at A&E shouldn’t be the only option available to someone experiencing a mental health crisis. We also know the pressure NHS Trusts are facing in terms of unnecessary hospital admissions and delayed discharges for mental ill-health.  

We have now been pioneering crisis provision for over 17 years  from our Crisis Cafes and Safe Havens offering immediate support and signposting to our Crisis Houses for people needing step down support from hospital, or intensive support to stop then from going into hospital in the first place 

We are justifiably proud of these services, the people they support and the staff that power them. Crisis services, and increased partnership working, are going to be needed ever more in the months and years ahead to deal with increasing (and increasingly complex) mental health needs. We are glad to see that the proposed NHS reforms recognise this, and the power of crisis interventions. Yet from the outside we know it might be hard to understand what a crisis service actually is and how it works in practice 

That’s why this week, across all our social media, we’re going to be focusing in on our Crisis Services We’ll be hearing from the people we support and our frontline staff, and we’ll be sharing images and statisticthat bring the services to life. Please follow the week on #OurCrisisServices – and share with anyone you think should know about our crisis services. And if you want to find out more about commissioning or partnering with us in your area pleascontact: communications@richmondfellowship.org.uk  

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.

Richmond Fellowship in The Guardian: Change in the charity sector

Richmond Fellowship was asked to contribute to a recent article in The Guardian around creating a movement of change in the charity and social care sector.

Danny O’Donoghue, Area Manager for our West services was only too happy to take up the task and this is what he had to say:

Do you have relevant personal experience?

People often think in binaries: are you political or altruistic? Are you a person in need or a volunteer? When truthfully, we are all of these things. It’s time to collapse the distinction between the helper and the helped, something addiction and prison services have known for years: there is no more effective support than that which comes from someone who’s been there.

Danny said: “If you ever want to know total isolation, try hearing voices. Nothing is more alienating than something you can’t share. When clinicians ran these groups, they were poorly attended – sometimes the staff outnumbered the people. That never happens with volunteers with experience. I was struck by one saying, ‘The voices have always been the thing I hide, that I find some way to bury. The pleasure in this instance is being able to wear it as a uniquely qualifying asset, to apply it in support of someone else’s recovery.’”

You can read the full article on Guardian Online here.

If you’re a journalist and would like us to comment or contribute to future press or media articles, please contact our Communications and Marketing team here.

Radio Sparky: December 2020 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 December’s edition, Matt Webb, Communications and Marketing Officer speaks to Jessica Fish, Area Manager of Richmond Fellowship’s Lancashire services about her journey through the charity to becoming an Area Manager, how her services have been managing during the coronavirus pandemic and about a new Social Enterprise element to our Central Lancashire Haven.

‘The way in which the Service Managers and the Recovery Workers adapted, the way that they worked was incredible. Going from doing all face to face visits or support sessions to everything being virtual, learning how to use new platforms to delivering those sessions and also supporting people that use our services to access those virtual platforms’. – Jessica Fish, Area Manager.

Sudbury service receives donation of £1,700 from local Rotary Club

Tony Platt (left) presenting the cheque to Jenna Keenan (middle) and Sue Capstaff (right)

Richmond Fellowship’s Sudbury supported housing and community service in Suffolk has received a cheque for £1,700 as part of their charity of the year status with the local Rotary Club.

Tony Platt, President of the Sudbury Rotary Club selected Richmond Fellowship, the Suffolk Befriending Scheme and East Anglian Air Ambulance as his chosen charities for his 2018-2019 ‘Rotary Year’.

Various fundraising events took place over the last 12 months and proceeds split between the three charities. Events included the town’s annual Christmas Tree Festival in St Peter’s Church in December, a Valentines Day collection in Sudbury Town Centre during February, the Rotary Club’s annual charity gala dinner with special guest speaker BBC News presenter Huw Edwards and a Sudbury Last Night of the Proms music event in June.

The cheque was presented to the service’s new Community Link Worker, Jenna Keenan and Recovery Worker Sue Capstaff at the Rotary Club’s AGM in July.

The money will be spent locally, providing even more recovery based activities and trips for those using the service.

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

‘This is wonderful news for our team and those using our services in Sudbury. The service is a bastion and champion for fundraising and it’s lovely to see their work in the local community rewarded. I’d like to pay tribute to Tony Platt for selecting Richmond Fellowship as one of his chosen charities and to all those involved in the Sudbury Rotary Club for their fundraising efforts during the past year’.

The news comes as part of a bumper fundraising year for service, which was recognised as Great Cornard Coop’s charity partner of the year, receiving £2,800 back in March.

Staff, volunteers and people we support recognised at ENRICH Awards 2019

Winning Kensington and Chelsea team

Staff, volunteers and people we support at Richmond Fellowship came together to celebrate the outstanding work happening across the organisation at the ENRICH Awards.

The awards, which took place on Thursday 21 March at London Metropolitan University, are based on Richmond Fellowship’s six organisational values (Enabling, Networking, Respect, Inclusion, Community and Hope).

Over 124 nominations were received across 10 categories – with over 50 nominations alone for the Inspiring Individual Staff Award category.

The winners:

Excellence in Innovation
Winner: Lowther Street Crisis House
Highly Commended: Macclesfield Homeless and Complex Needs Service and Trevayler Care Home

The nominees enjoying some Bhangra Drumming

Excellence in Partnership Working
Winner: East Surrey Work Programme
Highly Commended: My Time Domestic Violence Perpetrator Programme and Tyne, Wear and Northumberland Liaison and Diversion Service

Excellence in Engagement
Winner: RF Connect (Internal case management system)
Highly Commended: Pele Tower and Wiltshire Recovery and Social Inclusion Service

Excellence in Inclusion
Winner: Kensington and Chelsea Supported Housing Service
Highly Commended: Suffolk Recovery and The Old Moat

Hope Award: Nominated by the People We Support
Winner: Leicestershire Life Links
Highly Commended: Mid and West Surrey Employment Service and North West Surrey Employment Service

Ayesha receiving her Chief Executive’s Award from Derek Caren

Central Services Team Recognition Award
Winner: Communications and Marketing
Highly Commended: Learning and Development and Business Development

Inspiring Individual Staff Award
Winners: Christine (Locality Manager, Midlands), Simon (Employment Advisor, Mid and West Surrey Employment Service)
Highly Commended: Damian (Recovery Worker, Kensington and Chelsea Supported Housing Service), Emily (Group Internal Communications Officer), Hannah (Employment Advisor, Kirklees Employment Service), Rachael (Community Link Worker, Tyne, Wear and Northumberland Liaison and Diversion Service) and Stephen (Recovery Worker, Tower House)

Inspiring Individual People We Support Award
Winner: Angela (Suffolk Recovery)
Highly Commended: Berenice (Cambridge Employment Service) and Ethan (Redcar and Cleveland Supported Housing Service)

Volunteer Recognition Award
Winners: Ste (Working Together Committee) and Miriam (Funding and Development Volunteer, DVIP)
Highly Commended: Elizabeth (Recovery Workshops Assistant, Wiltshire Recovery and Social Inclusion Service)

Chief Executive’s Award
Winner: Ayesha (Recovery Worker, Moorview Supported Housing Service)

Derek Caren, Chief Executive of Richmond Fellowship said:

‘The ENRICH Awards celebrate the outstanding work and achievements that take place across Richmond Fellowship. This year was made extra special as we are celebrating 60 years of Richmond Fellowship. As a member of the judging panel, I was blown away by all of the nominations we received and I would like to congratulate each and every individual and team who were nominated. I would also like to personally thank our sponsors: Bob Rehill, CDP Soft, Energycentic, Castleton, uMarketeers, Yuuzuu, MEA, Kainos and Lloyds Bank for helping to make the awards so special’.

Richmond Fellowship recognised for promoting equality and diversity

Richmond Fellowship has once again been placed in the top 100 organisations for promoting diversity, equality and inclusion by the National Centre for Diversity (NCFD).

Richmond Fellowship was ranked number 92 in the country, in recognition of its work to promote diversity, inclusiveness and equality across the organisation.

Tracey Bell, Director of Performance, Quality and Innovation at Richmond Fellowship said:

“It’s great news that in 2019 we are again ranked in the top 100. We’re incredibly proud of our diverse workforce and the range of experience our staff bring to supporting people using our services. This achievement is down to the hard work and commitment of everyone in Richmond Fellowship to promoting diversity and inclusion and to working together with the people we support to shape our services.

I am particularly proud that Richmond Fellowship’s mean gender pay gap, at 5.93%, is significantly lower that the not for profit sector average of 19.4%. Also that, while we recognise there is always more for us to do, 82% of staff in Richmond Fellowship feel that their colleagues work in accordance with the principles of Fairness, Respect, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.”

Richmond Fellowship also holds Investors in Diversity status in recognition of its work to provide opportunities for people living with mental ill health and to ensure diversity right across the organisation.