Richmond Fellowship News

Below you'll find all the latest news from Richmond Fellowship.

For comment, interviews, case studies or information on our latest news, journalists can contact Richmond Fellowship’s Communications and Marketing team on communications@richmondfellowship.org.uk or phone 020 7697 3364.

Recovery Worker Week 2020 round-up

As one of the largest voluntary sector providers of mental health support in England, our frontline staff are critical to our work and the wellbeing of the people we support.

Our frontline staff have gone above and beyond this year during the Covid-19 pandemic and we’ve been shining the spotlight on what they do with a dedicated week on our social media.

During Recovery Worker Week (16-20 November) we shared a blog from Jo, our North Head of Operations about her visits to services during the Covid-19 pandemic and the excellent work she witnessed first-hand during these challenging times.

‘Our frontline workers have continued to go into their workplace and adapted their home life to ensure they are as safe as they can be to continue to support the people that use our services’. – Jo.

Deborah, Service Manager at Willow House in Lancashire wrote a blog about how our Crisis houses have continued to provide care despite the lockdown.

‘I didn’t think I’d face new challenges such as dogs barking over Skype or parrots chirping during a telephone intervention’. – Deborah.

We handed over the reins of our Twitter account to Anna, Crisis Recovery Worker at our Lincolnshire Crisis House. During ‘Recovery Worker Takeover’, Anna tweeted what she was doing across the day to give a flavour of the tasks our frontline staff carry out on a daily basis.

We also shared a range of experiences from our Recovery Workers across the country.

 

 

 

 

International Men’s Day also fell during Recovery Worker Week (Thursday 19 November), so we used this opportunity to showcase our frontline roles as great careers for men to consider. Rob, Peer Volunteer Co-ordinator at our Wiltshire Recovery and Social Inclusion service explained on video how Richmond Fellowship is a mindful employer for older men in the organisation.

If you’re interested in a career with us, or any of the partners in our Recovery Focus Group of charities, please take a look at our vacancies page by clicking here.

Recovery Worker social media takeover

This week we’re dedicating our social media to our frontline staff and the work that they do. On Tuesday Anna, a Recovery Worker in one of our Crisis Houses is taking over our Twitter account to give you a day in the life of her job. Below, she tells us a bit more about herself and her work with Richmond Fellowship.

Hello, my name is Anna and I am currently a recovery worker for the Richmond Fellowship’s Lincolnshire Crisis Service. Although I have only been working here for four months, I am already loving the work! I decided to pursue a career as a recovery worker as – through my university studies in Psychology and seeing family members experience mental ill health – I knew I wanted to help people in psychological distress in any way I could. So when a job post came up for Richmond Fellowship as a Recovery Worker, I applied without a second thought and I am very glad I did. While not every day is the same (which is another thing I love about the job) typically my daily responsibilities include making support plans with people who use our service, and running intervention sessions on a 1-1 or group basis. I’ve conduced interventions on topics as wide ranging as  ‘managing anxiety’ , ‘managing low mood’ , ‘Voice Management’ , ‘Improving Sleep’ and ‘Addictive Behaviours’.

One of my favourite things about the job is that I am able to give interventions and support to people who use our service on topics which I am extremely interested in! But more so, it is that I am able to witness firsthand someone recovering from mental ill health, which feels so good and rewarding, especially because you’ve had some role in their recovery journey.

Working for Richmond Fellowship has gone beyond and above what I expected. Every member of staff, from Recovery Workers to Area Managers is extremely fair, friendly and as passionate about the job. We are kept in the loop about current affairs that may impact our service (e.g. COVID-19) and are always asked for our feedback on the service for improvements to be made, which you really feel is listened to. Furthermore, Richmond Fellowship are always providing training to their staff, including suicide prevention, first aid training and safeguarding. Richmond Fellowship have supported me greatly in allowing me to fulfil my potential as a recovery worker and hopefully a long career in mental health.

You can follow the week, and Anna’s social media takeover, here (https://twitter.com/rfmentalhealth).

Radio Sparky – Working Together Week transcript

Radio Sparky is the podcast shining a spotlight on the work happening on the ground in Richmond Fellowship and the wider Recovery Focus Group of charities  – talking direct to staff and people we support.  To mark Working Together Week our Communications and Marketing Officer Matt Webb spoke to Matt and Jordan who use our Supported Housing Service in Stowmarket, Suffolk and the service manager James.Working Together Week

We wanted to find out from them what co-production and Working Together really means in practice, and how they’ve made it part of the service.  You can listen to the episode in full here – but if you want to have a read instead or even as well, we’ve got a transcript for you below!

Matt W: As a member of staff, it is of course working together week, what does co-production mean to you?

James: it means that we are all equal, and we are responsible for running and developing the service.

Matt: How have you managed to instill a co-production model in your service? It must have been quite a tricky thing to do, because you have to get everyone together and plan. How have you been able to make that happen?

James: Back when working together came to fruition in around 2014-15 – we are really fortunate that we have a really good community link worker, Janet, who is able to really push getting people involved in the service. Also, I think leadership is really important, so I really wanted to be quite a role model for that for staff in our services, developing a plan for example about how we are going to implement working together on a practical level.

“For example, changes as a result of that I have seen is that we always include people in the recruitment/interview process, we have people who last year helped to set the annual budget, and we also involved people in the local ways of running the service.”

They have helped formulate our approach to recovery, they have also helped out in the running of groups, and also when we are doing promotional work for mental health day, they will help to do that and run it for the day. But it is really about ensuring that it is embedded in the service and that there is a culture of working together. But also that they have got the skills and feel confident and able to dip in and dip out as they see fit as well, because it is something that you are volunteering to do, so a lot of it really is about gathering that information on RF Connect but also making people aware of what opportunities are out there.

Matt W: Matt you have been heavily involved in the working together at Cricket Meadow, tell us about the things you have been doing when you were a service user to bolster support and get fellow people we support to get involved?

Matt: I was involved in the interview processes for staff, I have been to various meetings and discussions about co-production, which can be anything from advising on policy, correcting paperwork, maybe some grammar, and having an input on the whole idea of co-production and being around that.

Matt W: Jordan, what activities do you get up to at Cricket meadow? Obviously Covid-19 has probably resulted in some of them changing in how they are delivered but what sort of things do you get up to, and how many people are usually involved?

Jordan: it is mainly 1 to 1s, opportunities for support from the staff and having a chat. But most of the activities have actually stopped at the minute because of Covid. It has changed everything really.

Matt W: How has the working together approach impacted on your recovery journey?

Matt: It has been an absolutely vital in here, and there is quite a lot of reasons for that and I haven’t got time for all of them. But, for example, I am able to use my skills where I was previously, outside of mental health, outside of the involvement that I have had with Richmond Fellowship to do with my mental health. I had skills, I was working, I could bring a lot of things.

“So rather than it be led by, rather than having a dynamic of service user and staff, I found myself embracing the idea and feeling really empowered by the working together.”

My mental health issues, previously driving it all seemed to dissipate, and I was able to stand shoulder to shoulder with the staff as human beings and working together. So it is incredibly empowering, travelling around the country, attending meetings, making connections which is often quite an unspoken aspect of co-production. But for me it is making connections with different organisations and people, whether that be at Richmond Fellowship or other organisations that attach to them, has made a massive difference and a lot of these connections have led to further opportunities, and further opportunities for co-production. So working together has had a quite, albeit a lifelong impact, a very very positive impact and certainly on my recovery going forward and I am very proud to be part of it.

Matt W: that’s really good to hear, Jordan I will put that same question to you?

Jordan: It gives you an insight of who is caring for me, and how much effort they actually put into what they do for us. Like Matt said, it gives you a chance to travel around the country a bit, and meet new people. It is really good.

Matt W: Jordan how are you finding your support through Richmond Fellowship at the moment?

Jordan: Really good to be honest. I have come a long way since I have been here, and I have changed so much since I have been here. I really want to thank them for what they have done for me.

Matt W: And Matt?

Matt: I have been involved with Richmond Fellowship since 2013, and my support has always been outstanding. I have been discharged from their service for over a year now, and yet I am still supported and to a great level.

“Particularly during Covid we had some zoom meetings, phone calls, and the level of support that was still offered even though I was discharged has been amazing even though these times plays a significant role in keeping me positive.”

Matt W: That is a really inspiring story Matt and yours as well Jordan. James thank you very much for joining us on Radio sparky to talk about working together and what it means to you across Richmond Fellowship. Gentleman thank you.

 

Radio Sparky – Working Together Week Podcast

Welcome to the latest edition of Radio Sparky, the podcast which shines the spotlight on the excellent work happening at Richmond Fellowship.

To mark Working Together Week across the Recovery Focus group of charities, Communications and Marketing Officer Matt Webb speaks to James Dominiak, Service Manager at Richmond Fellowship’s 24 hour Supported Housing Service in Stowmarket, Suffolk and Matt and Jordan who use the service about how they’ve embedded co-production in their service at local level.

“I’ve been involved with interview processes for staff, discussions around co-production and policy making. I was able to stand shoulder to shoulder with staff”. – Matt, person we support.

World Mental Health Day – Leaving Hospital After Ten Years

World Mental Health Day (10 October) is the international day for global mental health awareness, education, and advocacy against social stigma.  This year’s theme is “Mental Health for All”, and we are sharing stories of people that we support that show how important that is. Maggs, a person we support living in one of our 24 hour community support services, shares her story of moving from the criminal justice system into our services.

Hi! My name is Maggs and I would like to share the highs and lows of my discharge from hospital into 24hr support in the community. Before this, I spent ten years in various hospitals around the country. I think I should start from the beginning: I have been in a very low and difficult place for a long time. In 2010 I was in a place I didn’t think I could escape. My family could also see the darkness of that place in my eyes. Ten years on I can now finally accept how mentally and physically poorly I was.

Over the last ten years I have spent time in prison (for my own safety and to give the courts time to be able to apply a 37 hospital order). Once I had that order, I went to my first hospital not expecting that I would be going into a further three hospitals after that.

After being in the hospital, I gained a lot of confidence and accepted the person I used to be.

I was discharged from hospital into the community within a 24hr support housing service. This was alongside another lady who had been in the same hospital as me, so it was good to know someone who lived there too. There were also ten men who lived at the house; however this didn’t affect me even though I have a bad history with men. To be fair they were a good laugh! Eventually my friend moved in to her own flat with support from staff. It was sad to see her go but I was also so happy for her as she had worked hard to get her own flat.

I found it hard after she left, because all I was listening to were ten men bantering, swearing and being inappropriate with what they were saying and the manner they were saying it in. But now when I look back on this I know we all were struggling with mental health problems and everyone deals with these issues in so many different ways.

I know it wasn’t down to the individuals in the house that I had relapsed again, it was because I had put high expectations on myself to mend people who were struggling too.

At this point, I didn’t feel as confident as I had when I left hospital but that was because I wanted to fulfil my dreams of helping others who have been in the same position as me. I thought that if I could help anyone who is struggling with their mental health in any way shape or form, I would be fulfilled. While all this was going on, I had family back home who had been in a bad place too due to watching their own mum try to take her own life so many times. I loved them so so much but I knew that I was in the way of them following their dreams too. So, as I said at the beginning, I was admitted to a further three hospitals over the next five years.

I was at my last hospital for nearly two years and during this stay I developed many skills. These skills were then tested to their limits because I wanted to be a mum, a grandma and be with my family more than I had been. I questioned what would help me find the true Maggs underneath all the heartbreak over the years, and how I would make sense of the last ten years. I really valued the skills I learned during DBT, and I still use them to this day.

So, moving into the community was exciting, happy, scary and emotional for me. I was moving back home to my family, and I was excited as I was able to be a mum again and felt so lucky to be a grandma to seven gorgeous grandchildren. I wasn’t the only person who was emotional about moving into the community, my family were too. They had been waiting for this day for a long time.

Due to Covid-19 I was unable to see the property I was moving to. Two of the staff visited before lockdown to assess me for the accommodation and I was accepted. When I realised I wouldn’t be able to see where I was moving to, I judged the staff that came to visit me who were really lovely and approachable. I felt that I would be okay just to move in. I think my thoughts were to push myself that bit further because I knew I was so far away from the Maggs I was in 2010.

I had also met my care coordinator Kevin and my social worker Lydia. They were both so lovely and approachable too, I knew this was something big and such a positive and an amazing move waiting for me to grab with both hands.

World Mental Health Day – Kelechi’s story

World Mental Health Day (10 October) is the international day for global mental health awareness, education, and advocacy against social stigma. This year’s theme is “Mental Health for All”, and we are sharing stories of people that we support that show how important that is. Kelechi Chioba, a person supported by Richmond Fellowship, tells us her story about battling mental ill health as a Black, LGBTIQA+, disabled woman who is also a survivor of domestic abuse.

I had a mental health disorder and polio when I was younger which means I have to use a wheelchair. Before my relapse I was a very active public speaker and activist. I travelled the country giving talks, training and meetings at universities. As a bi-sexual Black woman I spoke about a range of subjects including domestic abuse, LGBTQ+ identity, having a disability and feminism. I wanted to make a change as a domestic abuse survivor. I also talk about encouraging diversity in leadership.

It was after my hysterectomy that I broke down again. I felt down and hated giving talks, writing and my life. I used to love this.

In the Black community they have a myth – “Mental health is the white man’s disease”. There is no halfway. If you have mental health issues you must be mad. As a Black woman there is an expectation to be strong. You cannot be seen as weak and must keep your dignity. You may be dying inside but you can’t show it. In my church people would not sit next to me because of sexuality. When I experience racism in the UK I just want to run to the protection of the Black community but I am rejected because of my sexuality. I have no one to lean on. I am stuck in the middle of two worlds. This had a huge impact on my mental health. A mixture of culture, religion and beliefs all impacts me. Once, when I was sectioned and receiving treatment, a Black mental health nurse said “why are you here? If you are a believer in Christ you should not be here.” It is also hard to access support.

Sometimes you go to see an expert and there is no one from your community you can see who would understand your situation. You can’t just walk in and expect to be believed. It is a double punishment.

Eventually, I saw a psychiatrist who referred me to counselling. When I refused counselling, the doctor gave me Richmond Fellowship’s number. When I first started sessions with my recovery worker we made a checklist. We ticked off how I felt so I could visualize where I was mentally. We spoke every week. Before I relapsed, I was confident speaking to groups. Now I was scared of seeing people. So we focused on anxiety management and building confidence. Once I called my recovery worker and said I had trouble sleeping so we focused on sleep management. I was always listened to and could make decisions myself. We tailored the sessions to what I had experienced that week. This is something I really liked.

I didn’t feel seeing my recovery worker was working at first. I now realise it was having an impact within me. I started to find my passion again. It did not come all at once. It came little by little. I remember telling my recovery worker I am ready to give talks again. Everyone was so happy for me and so was I.

I came to Richmond Fellowship to get my passion back. I wanted to put my life back together and pick myself up. When I first came I said “I just want to get better. I want to know how to get a grip with managing my mental health”.

I now want to make a change. My life is hard. I am in a wheelchair and the discrimination and stereotypes are too much. I want to fix this world and encourage inclusivity in the community, government and in legislation. I want everyone to be equal and then I will be happy. This is why I go to give talks. I want to tell others to be proud of who and what you are. This is key for your mental health and you should always seek help if you need.

If you want to find out more about Kelechi and her recovery journey, please search her name on YouTube.

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.

Apply for the job today here.

World Suicide Prevention Day – A personal story

This World Suicide Prevention Day we hear from a member of our Life Links staff about their recovery journey, the support they got to overcome suicidal thoughts and their work now to support others.

My experience with mental health started long before I was a volunteer at Life Links. As a child, I grew up a witness to domestic violence in the family home. My Mum was a victim of domestic violence from her partner at the time for many years and growing up I lived in a very controlled environment. This hostile way of living continued into my early teens, when they eventually separated. This had more of an impact on me than I could understand as a thirteen year old girl still trying to understand herself.

At the time, I struggled with coming to terms with their separation and the adjustment to a life without being controlled. Painful memories plagued my mind daily and my emotions were difficult to manage. This led to very unhealthy coping mechanisms such a self harm. I also became an insomniac, sleeping for two or three hours a night. I ate very little, often only having one meal a day.

On November the 12th 2010, I threatened to end my life.

On November the 12th 2010, I threatened to end my life. I had a plan and I was certain I wasn’t going to be here anymore. Thankfully, for me my Mum found out and she got medical advice from my GP. It was then that it was best decided that I would go into a Mental Health Unit for adolescence as an inpatient for two weeks.

It was there where I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and in the hospital was the first time that I had felt safe in a long time. When I was discharged, I went to live with my Dad and my step Mum and begun the journey of healing. I have always been very fortunate to have an incredible support network of family and friends that empowered to believe that Mental Health Recovery is possible.

I spent a lot of time adjusting to life after my hospital admission. I went to school on a part time basis to allow me to adjust and focus on my recovery as at the time, I was attending weekly counselling sessions. It was in these sessions that I grew as a person, empowered and charged with the belief that life would get better and it did.

It was in those sessions and also reflecting on them afterwards that really helped me to understand the importance and impact the relationship between the Mental Health professional and the client can really change a persons life as it completely changed mine. For the first time in my life, I was in an environment where I felt safe in sharing my emotions. I developed a strong sense of trust and security in myself and others.

For the first time in my life, I was in an environment where I felt safe in sharing my emotions. I developed a strong sense of trust and security in myself and others.

After two years, my counselling came to an end but I was armed with all that I had learned about myself and I was finally able to move forward. I started attending school full time and by the time I finished school in year 11 I left with 6 GCSE’S and the world at my feet.

I was almost certain that I wanted to work in the Mental Health Field, but I was unsure of what exactly I wanted to do. I did a two year course in Health and Social Care which then led me to complete my dream degree in Psychology.

During my degree, it was then where I began to question whether I wanted to or would be able to work in the Mental Health field. I questioned whether it would be something I could manage emotionally due to my past experience, or whether it would be an asset in enabling me to help others.

That is when I found Life Links sat on a computer in the library at University. I was looking for volunteering experience as part of my degree and I thought that in order to see whether the Mental Health field would be right for me, I could volunteer and that way I would know.

So, that’s exactly what I did. I sent a copy of my CV and cover letter to Shannon and the next thing I knew I had and interview and then, I was a volunteer and a passionate one at that due my past experiences.

I grew in so many ways through my volunteering experience at Life Links, but mostly in confidence.

I grew in so many ways through my volunteering experience at Life Links, but mostly in confidence. At the beginning I wouldn’t answer the phones on the information line out of fear that I would say the wrong things and the idea of delivering workshops was absolutely petrifying.

It took some time, but with encouragement from Shannon, staff and the other volunteers I begun to build my confidence and before I knew it, I was answering the phone without even thinking and delivering a workshop begun to feel natural. I actually found that I really enjoy public speaking.

Life Links provided me with the environment to grow, trust in myself and my own abilities and rocket in confidence. I took every opportunity that was given to me, including delivering a series of recovery education workshops at Recovery College and taking part in an OCN accredited training course in which I received an accreditation for.

The more I learned about the job role from the Recovery Workers, the more it felt like the right route for me as Richmond Fellowships values are very much in line with my own. Volunteering with Life Links made the decision for me that the mental health field was right for me and that my own mental health experience would only be an asset in understanding and helping others.

So, once I finished my degree in which I obtained a 2:1 classification there was much to my delight a job opening as a Recovery Worker and here I am. I don’t think ever in my life I have felt like I fit in like I do with the team at life links.

I don’t think ever in my life I have felt like I fit in like I do with the team at life links.

The supportive and encouraging atmosphere shows me daily that this is the right place for me to be and the experience of working with my own clients and seeing their progress is rewarding, not just for me but in how I feel for them. As I hope to empower my own clients in the way that I felt in powered within my own Mental Health journey.

Throughout my journey with Life Links and a volunteer and now staff, I have seen the demand for the service continue to increase and I have seen first hand how beneficial the service is for those who use it. Today is a celebration of staff, volunteers and service users and I feel incredible humbled to be a part of Life Links.

 

Post lockdown tour of our services

Since lockdown has started to ease, Jo Schofield, our Head of Operations in the North, has taken the opportunity to visit several services and see for herself how staff and people we support have been getting on.

In this blog, she tells us more about these visits and what they tell us about our staff’s commitment to Making Recovery Reality, and how proud she is of how well staff and people we support adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic

Moor View (Care Home)

Yesterday was a great day for me. As Head of Operations for the North, I have always been out and about visiting our services but due to Covid-19 that hasn’t been possible since March 2020. However, yesterday I ventured out to my first service visit since lockdown. I visited Moor View our registered care home in Halifax with 24-hour nursing. Upon arrival, I was temperature checked and offered disposable PPE.

Even though I was at Moor View for a meeting with colleagues, I took in the environment and was impressed with the cleanliness of the building. I introduced myself to two staff who I haven’t met before and they told me that they felt safe in the workplace, they felt well informed and supported. Whilst I have heard daily about the good work that is happening in services, there is nothing quite like seeing it for yourself!

Our frontline workers have continued to go into their workplace and adapted their home life to ensure they are as safe as they can be to continue to support the people that use our services.

Today I really felt such pride for everyone I met at Moor View. Not only our frontline staff for their awareness and alertness around Covid-19 but also the people living in our services. It was obvious to me that a lot of work had taken place to educate some of our residents about keeping themselves safe and respecting personal space and maintaining a safe distance with our staff and other residents and visitors to the service.

Trevayler (Crisis House)

Continuing on my visits to services to see how things are going on the frontline during the pandemic, last week took me to Trevayler. Trevayler has two elements; a transitional unit for people moving from a hospital setting and also a crisis house for people experiencing a mental health crisis that require some interventions to prevent a further relapse in their mental health.

As I walked down the drive, I could see what has now become a familiar sight when visiting Richmond Fellowship services; the colourful rainbows in the window that residents and guests had coloured to represent “hope” during the pandemic.

On arrival I was told that I was entering a Covid-19 free zone and asked if I had had any of the identified symptoms, which I confirmed that I had not. I spent time walking around the building and viewing an area of the building that will be transformed into a Crisis Haven over the coming weeks.

There were six staff in handover and I talked to them about how they felt coming into work on the frontline during the pandemic. They collectively told me that this was their job and that they did what they do. At this point, they felt very supported and said that  Richmond Fellowship had done everything possible to make sure they were safe.

As a senior leader in the organisation, I came away feeling proud of the staff working at Trevayler and how they had made adjustments to their lives to ensure the safety of those they support.

There are no words that can describe my gratitude of those working on the frontline to ensure that people we support continue to get the support they need, when they need it.

Tower House (24 Hour Supported Housing)

Last week, my service visits continued. I went to Tower House which is a 24 hour Supported Housing Service in Chester.

Upon arrival I couldn’t hide my smile as I saw the window covered in rainbows acknowledging “hope” during the pandemic. Residents engaged with craft sessions to decorate the window; joined in the clap for carers on Thursdays at 8pm and knew the importance of keeping themselves safe to reduce the risk of falling victim to the virus.

As I was shown around the beautiful building I met resident after resident who kept a safe distance and wore their face masks when they were in communal areas. One of the residents I spoke to explained that they had COPD and therefore was exempt from wearing a face mask but told me that they weren’t going to take any chances and was happy to wear one to keep everyone safe.

The three staff on duty spoke to me about how the residents have responded positively to changes within their living environment and how to start with it was extremely difficult but with lots of education about the Coronavirus and additional support offered, residents had responded really positively. They were really proud of how the residents had adapted during this really difficult time.

I came away from Tower House feeling confident that the staff and residents were working together to keep the service operating in a safe way and that the safety measures in place were not intrusive, but a true reflection on how the virus is being taken seriously within the setting.

What these service visits have shown

These service visits have reinforced what I already knew about our amazing staff and people we support. Throughout the entire pandemic, staff have shown resilience and commitment to our mission: making recovery reality. Even when the country was in a state of crisis, every staff member I encountered radiated hope and respect. They were all focused on enabling the people we support to achieve their goals even in the most adverse external circumstances.

As lockdown measures continue to change, we will keep working with staff and people we support to adapt how our services operate. We believe that everyone has a right to participate fully in society, and we will always ensure our services are running – whatever challenges the future might hold.

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.