How have our services adapted to the lock down – Willow House

We spoke to Deborah Webster, service manager at Willow House, on how our crisis houses have continued to provide care despite the lockdown. Willow House took in new referrals and provided high quality recovery care while keeping both staff and guests safe in line with government guidance.

Willow House is a crisis house that has been open for 3 years and it has always been a fast paced service. We offer provide a unique alternative to psychiatric hospital admission and address the needs of people experiencing a mental health crisis. We are proud of the relationships guest build together as peers and with our staff.

Usually people referred to us stay up to a week in our house with their own room and have several sessions a day with a recovery worker. Since the Covid-19 outbreak we have adapted to quickly and moved to a virtual service for guests. We have telephone and video call support 24 hours a day so guests can contact our staff any time they require support. We offer the same catalogue of interventions previously done face to face but in a safe way for both staff and guests.

We practically changed all our processes overnight to accommodate this. For new referrals we use an NHS screening tool to ensure people don’t have symptoms or haven’t been exposed to people with symptoms.

We practically changed all our processes overnight to accommodate this. For new referrals we use an NHS screening tool to ensure people don’t have symptoms or haven’t been exposed to people with symptoms. There are times slots for rooms so guests can still enjoy Willow House while maintaining social distancing. All our staff in the house wear masks, keep two metres apart and can’t spend more than 15 minutes face to face with other people. Some staff now work from home which has taken its toll due the isolation but I think overall we are a stronger, more resilient team.Our recovery workers have taken steps to help people we support with the transition to the new virtual methods. Staff are more casual and conversational over the phone. This new communication style helps guests feel comfortable and engage better with the intervention.

We are commissioned to provide a crisis service for people in Lancashire and we will provide it.

I didn’t think I’d face new challenges such as dogs barking over skype or parrots chirping during a telephone intervention but I think everyone will agree the pandemic has bought a new perspective to everything. We are focusing on our own wellbeing as individuals and a team so we can cope with these tough times. Some staff said they struggled with separating work from home. Together we have agreed that staff do not have to fill the day and that taking time out for themselves during the day is important. Screen time has shot up and people’s homes aren’t offices. Overall everyone has adapted well to the changes and new working routine.

We are commissioned to provide a crisis service for people in Lancashire and we will provide it. For a crisis house to stop during a crisis would be the last thing we want. We assessed the risks to our staff and guests and adapted the service as necessary. The hard work and dedication of the staff to keep the people we support on their recovery journey cannot be overstated.

We want people to know that our they can still access our service as an alternative to hospital admissions. In a time of high anxiety and uncertainty we will be there for those in a mental health crisis.

What does Mental Health Awareness Week mean for us this year?

Mental Health Awareness Week is unsurprisingly a key week for our group of charities. Richmond Fellowship is one of the biggest voluntary sector providers of mental health care in England, supporting over 11,000 people every year through nearly 150 services. As a group we also deliver support to people affected by domestic abuse, substance use and gambling– and we know the role that mental health plays in all this areas.

We are first and foremost service delivery organizations, and in many places our services deliver their support to the people who need it most, often with little fanfare. So Mental Health Awareness Week has always been a great opportunity for our services to talk to local and regional audiences about what they do and why mental health matters. As the week has grown in stature and influence every year, it is helping to remove the stigma around talking about mental health and we always want to be part of that conversation.

Yet this year Mental Health Awareness Week has almost snuck up on us. Perhaps for obvious reasons as we’ve all been working flat out during the pandemic to ensure that our services continue to be there for the people who need it most. Our usual methods of marking the week – through events, stalls, talks, flyers etc – simply aren’t available to us this year. However this is also a time when people are thinking, and talking, about their mental health more than ever.

Hosted by the Mental Health Foundation the theme this year is kindness (#KindnessMatters), and the focus is on what sort of society we would like to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic. With that pandemic in mind and all consuming, we’ve had to really think about what we want Mental Health Awareness Week to mean for us in 2020.

We are phenomenally proud that throughout the pandemic, thanks to our staff’s hard work, all of our services have remained open.

The more we thought about, the more it was obvious that this needed to be about our staff. Keeping the people we support mentally well and their recovery journey on track has been as big a challenge as keeping people safe from the virus. We are phenomenally proud that throughout the pandemic, thanks to our staff’s hard work, all of our services have remained open. Many staff have had to rapidly adapt how and where they work, and many have continued to go in to work in order to keep residential services open and stable.

All over the country our staff are going above and beyond in helping people on their recovery journeys. Our services are partnering with local foodbanks, community projects and mutual aid groups with signposting and deliveries. Staff have also helped tenants source food and hygiene supplies keeping them safe especially if they are self-shielding. In other services, staff have made special deliveries of cake and cards to the people we support reminding them that we are here for them as a community not just a service. Social distancing may have exacerbated isolated individuals’ situations but our staff have stepped up to the challenge. New virtual groups have been formed in partnership with the people we support. Through Zoom, Whatsapp and telephone our staff are providing vital companionship, prompting conversations and maybe even just saying hello.

Nearly 50% of our staff are frontline Recovery Workers, directly supporting people on their recovery journey. They are the key workers who we are happy to see increasingly recognized by the general public as the pandemic has taken hold. Their kindness has always been apparent to us and the people we support, and we hope that the society that emerges on the other side of this will be one that continues to value and thank them.

We’ll be thanking them especially this week, and putting the spotlight on their hard work. Throughout Mental Health Awareness Week we’ll be talking more about how they’ve adapted to keep services running, their acts of kindness and how they’ve been looking after their own mental health as well as that of the people we support. We hope that by using #mentalhealthawarenessweek to recognize our staff we’ll help you understand the importance of their work – now and well into the future.

Driving change

Our DVIP and MyTime divisions were partners in the recent three year Drive pilot, working with the perpetrators of domestic abuse. The pilot’s evaluation received widespread coverage this month – but what next?

The prevalence of domestic abuse in the UK is staggering – 100,000 people are at risk of domestic homicide or serious harm every year. Historically the response to domestic abuse has focused on expecting the victim to leave and start a new life in a new community. Often the perpetrator is left to continue their life as normal and frequently repeats the same behaviour with new partners, creating more victims. Currently 1 in 4 domestic abuse perpetrators are repeat offenders, and only 1% of perpetrators receive specialist intervention to address their behaviour.

Richmond Fellowship’s specialist domestic abuse divisions, DVIP and MyTime, know we need to tackle the root cause, and together have nearly 30 years’ experience and expertise developing and delivering perpetrator interventions. We respond to and support perpetrators through local behaviour change and risk management services whilst also providing vital support services to women and children.

Since 2016 we have been part of the Drive pilot (led by Safelives, Respect and Social Finance), delivering a programme that challenges and seeks to change perpetrator behaviour. Drive was an intensive and multi agency approach that ran in Essex, South Wales and West Sussex initially and was then replicated in Croydon, Worcester, Birmingham & Sandwell and Cardiff. We were partners for West Sussex and West Midlands.

The recently published evaluation of this three year long pilot demonstrated the clear potential of the Drive approach. For instance the number of Drive service users perpetrating abuse types reduced as follows:

– Physical abuse reduced by 82%
– Sexual abuse reduced by 88%
– Harassment and stalking behaviours reduced by 75%
– Jealous and controlling behaviours reduced by 73%

The evaluation received wide spread press coverage, and saw more than 80 organisations sign a call to action for the government to create a domestic abuse perpetrator strategy. The joint call for action rightly highlights the need for a national response – one that incorporates multi-agency approaches such as Drive. But most importantly it also highlights that the vast majority of perpetrators are not able to access Drive type interventions.

So what next? We want to see more evidence-based activities that support social change to end domestic abuse. Sustainable government funding will be key to enabling a national roll-out of effective multi-agency responses like Drive.

We also want to apply this overlapping service approach to the Recovery Focus Group. Domestic abuse is everyone’s business and it crosses over all service provision across our group.

We currently deliver a number of innovative service models that not only work with the individuals that use abusive behaviours in intimate relationships but also the victims, survivors and children. Our vision is that domestic abuse services will be fully integrated into services across the group.

Over the next three years we will be looking to expand our domestic abuse services across the UK in line with the group’s existing provision.

New location for Cambridgeshire Employment service in Huntingdon

Richmond Fellowship’s Cambridgeshire Employment service in Huntingdon has moved into a new premises from today (Monday 18 November).

Central to Huntingdon town centre, Hartford House has had a new lease of life thanks to the hard work of local drug and alcohol support service; Change, Grow, Live (CGL).

Both Richmond Fellowship and CGL are excited to partner together in sharing the bright new space.

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

“Co-location is just the beginning for us, with the longer term plan to engage in more joined up working practices. For the people we support, the move will bring a much needed positive and inclusive welcome when they visit, offering space for refreshments, peer activities and self reflection”.

To find out more, visit www.richmondfellowship.org.uk/cambsemploymentservice.

Tameside service group enjoy Lakes challenge

A group of individuals from Richmond Fellowship’s supported housing service in Tameside recently enjoyed a fantastic 5 day outdoor challenge holiday in the Lake District, thanks to a grant provided by the National Lottery.

People using the service had the chance to participate in an array of different challenges including caving, scrambling, zip-wiring as well as piloting a boat.

After exploring the outdoors, the group enjoyed cooking together and showing off their talent in an impromptu song and dance.

They ended each day relaxing by Lake Windermere and a wonderful starlit sky.

All those who attended are currently receiving support from the service in Tameside to manage their own mental ill health.

Garry, one of the participants said:

“It was great to be in a team encouraging each other and relying on each other. It was hard pushing myself but very worthwhile. I know I can do more now.”

Chris Delderfield, Registered Manager at Richmond Fellowship’s Tameside supported housing service said:

“This was a fantastic opportunity for the people we support giving them the opportunity to experience a range of outdoor activities and spend 5 days in a very rural setting which, for most people, was a completely new experience. This holiday was only possible thanks to the generous grant that we received from the Big Lottery Fund.”

Developing our Tameside Supported Housing service

1 in 4 people in the UK experience mental health issues each year, and incredible work is being done across the country to tackle mental health stigma. Richmond Fellowship supports tens of thousands of people across the country every year, providing tailored support to tie in with each person’s needs, interests and aspirations – and we are proud that 97% of people who use our services feel that Richmond Fellowship has improved their quality of life, and 93% feel safe and secure in our services.  

Supported housing is one of the key models of support we offer. As well as offering a safe, welcoming place for people to live, the support provided helps people along their path of recovery to independent living. We are proud to have run supported housing services in Tameside for many years, and have never had any problems with the local community in that time. We are committed to continually improving the quality of the properties we provide. Our new property would replace ageing accommodation, and will be a modern, self-contained flat complex with support staff on-site 24/7 in order to provide the best recovery environment for the people we support. 

We will be talking to local people in order to hear any concerns and promote understanding of our work and services.

Oxfordshire care home moves into refurbished state of the art building

Richmond Fellowship’s Registered Care Home in Oxfordshire has moved into a brand new home.

The service, formally known as The Knowl, has relocated to a renovated property on Oxford Road, Abingdon called Holder House. The service was originally run by 2Care but became part of Richmond Fellowship along with several other registered care homes in 2011.

Holder House, a CQC registered ‘good’ care home provides support for individuals over 18 experiencing enduring mental ill health. It is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and Richmond Fellowship’s dedicated team continue to provide the same high level of support to the individuals using the service.

The refurbishment of the property has been tailored specifically for the people Richmond Fellowship supports. It boasts 14 en-suite furnished residents rooms, a large commercial style kitchen downstairs, 2 additional kitchenettes upstairs and an extensive garden which provides plenty of space for leisure activities and growing plants and vegetables.

The property has excellent transport links with access to public transport, helping individuals to re-gain their independence and participate in even more local community activities.

The building takes its name from the Holder family, following a generous donation left by the estate of Gwen Holder on behalf of her late husband John Holder who was a chair of 2Care – as well as a donation from Richard Holder, also a former chair, who sadly passed away in 2007.

Doug Low, Area Manager for Richmond Fellowship’s Oxfordshire services said:

“We’re so thrilled to have moved into Holder House. The new building is amazing and will make a real impact on the lives of the people we support. I’d like to thank the residents of Oxford Road for making us feel so welcome. We’re also proud to have involved the people we support in the development and design of the property, harnessing on our Working Together approach”.

Derek Caren, Chief Executive of Richmond Fellowship said:

“This is a really exciting opportunity for both the team and people we support in Oxfordshire. The property enables us to offer state of the art accommodation for people living with mental ill health in a peaceful community setting. I’d also like to personally pay tribute to the Holder family for their generous donation which has helped towards developing the building”.

New Bristol Get Well, Get On Employment service

Richmond Fellowship is working in partnership with Bristol City Council to develop a new service called Get Well Get On.

The Employment Retention service will provide support to people who are in work, at risk of falling out of work and who are on sick leave but are still employed with mental ill health and/or muscular-skeletal conditions.

The service will promote self management and provide access to employment advice and support for both individuals and small or medium sized employers.

The new service will be working with existing delivery partners including Bristol City Council, Ways 2 Work Network, Work Zone, Bristol WORKS, Bristol Apprentices and Future Bright.

Richmond Fellowship will also be working with Public Health England, the local Chamber of Commerce, Trade Unions and Project Thrive, the city wide mental health initiative.

The service is about to take its first referrals.

For further details about what the service offers, please email Bristol.GetWellGetOn@richmondfellowship.org.uk.

Isle Of Wight Safe Haven opening hours – 11-17 February

Richmond Fellowship’s Safe Haven on the Isle of Wight will be available on the following days from Monday 11 February to Sunday 17 February.

Monday 11 February: Fully Open
Tuesday 12 February: Fully Open
Wednesday 13 February: Fully Open
Thursday 14 February: Fully Open
Friday 15 February: Fully Open
Saturday 16 February: Fully Open
Sunday 17 February: Fully Open

Please contact the Safe Haven for more details on 03300 083888.

Address: Quay House, Newport, PO30 2QR.

Isle Of Wight Safe Haven opening hours – 31 January-8 February

Richmond Fellowship’s Safe Haven on the Isle of Wight will be available on the following days from Thursday 31 January to Friday 8 February.

Thursday 31 January: Fully Open
Friday 1 February: Fully Open
Saturday 2 February: Fully Open
Sunday 3 February: Fully Open
Monday 4 February: Fully Open
Tuesday 5 February: Fully Open
Wednesday 6 February: Fully Open
Thursday 7 February: Fully Open
Friday 8 February: Fully Open

Please contact the Safe Haven for more details on 03300 083888.

Address: Quay House, Newport, PO30 2QR.