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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

World Autism Acceptance Week blog

To mark World Autism Acceptance Week, Laura Whitehouse, Autism and Asperger’s Employment Advisor at our Cambridgeshire Employment service has written this blog to share her experiences of working with people on the autism spectrum.

Who am I?

In 2015-2016, I trained with Teach East to become a Primary School Teacher. I completed my training and got a job as a Classroom Teacher, teaching in Year 4 at the school I trained in. I left teaching in 2018 as I found that it was not the role for me. Having left the profession, I secured my current role working with autistic adults to find and stay in work. But my experience of working with children on the autism spectrum as a Teaching Assistant, Trainee Teacher and Class Teacher continues to help me in my current work.

What is Autism?

Autism is a lifelong, developmental condition that affects about 1 in 100 people. It is a condition that affects the way in which people communicate and interact with the world around them. It is also a spectrum condition, which means that every individual is affected in a different way and have their own strengths and challenges. This definition has come from the National Autistic Society website, and this is a good place to start if you want to find out more at www.autism.org.uk. Also, local libraries have a good range of material on the subject including those written by people with autism.

My Experience and Top Tips

Working with and talking to people on the autism spectrum on daily basis allows me to learn something new every day. It has also highlighted the fact that each person is unique with their own strengths and challenges and so the best way of supporting them is by working in a person-centred way.

Now, I would like to share some of my top tips to supporting adults and children on the autism spectrum:

  • Increase your own knowledge of the condition and how it might affect an individual, this way you will have a better understanding of why they might be acting in a certain way.

  • Take time to get to know them, what are their interests, strengths and challenges, that way you can tailor support to suit their needs. The importance is that they are listened to and heard.

  • Routine is important to those on the spectrum as they know what is happening and it reduces anxiety. So, use of timetables written or visual can be beneficial.

  • Sudden changes can be difficult for some people on the autism spectrum. So, spending time preparing for it, explaining what the changes is and why it is happening can help manage the stress around it.

  • Avoid figurative and ambiguous language instead be clear in what you say and mean and check for understanding.

  • Be specific with expectations of work and behaviour.

  • If they have a sensory need or challenge, try to find ways to manage this. For example, if they are sensitive to noise then use noise cancelling headphones.

To find out more information about our Cambridgeshire Employment service, click here.

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: 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.