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.

Pride at Recovery Focus

“No Pride for some of us without liberation for all of us” – Micah Bazant

Katie Howlen, HR Shared Services Coordinator in People & Organisation Development, gives a short history on the background of Pride month and why it is still important today.

June marks Pride Month, usually, a cause for celebration but circumstances feel very different this year. Pride month is a joyous month where people come together to celebrate the amazing achievements of the LGBTQ+ community, raise political awareness of current issues, and show unity and solidarity.

The Covid-19 pandemic already meant that Pride this year was going to feel different. Now even more so as the Black Lives Matter movement sees people globally taking action to protest racial inequality.  While it may be hard to feel the same sense of joy and unity while so many are in pain it is important to remember that the gay rights movements started with protests led by black members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Pride has been an annual event to mark the anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall uprising in New York with the first UK Pride Rally in London 1972. The Stonewall uprising took place in the wider context of the civil rights movement. After a decade of raids, arrests, police brutality and oppression faced by the LGBTQ+ community, the Stonewall raid was the catalyst for riots and protests. Led by black trans women, drag queens, gay men & women as a collective these protests and riots lasted several days and marked the start of the gay rights movement we know today. Courageous individuals such as Marsh P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera and Miss Major Griffin- Gracey lead the fight against brutality and injustice towards the gay community in America which then spread globally.

Although this Pride month may not be what we usually know it is still so important to celebrate the achievements that have been made over the past decades and are being made right now. We should use the current climate to provide context and steer for the work that still needs to be done.

So this Pride I am happy that our organisation shows unity with and celebrates the LGBTQ+ community and is committing to that work ahead. However, it is imperative that as a national charity, we maintain this support all year round and not just for Pride month. We must ensure that all voices within the LGBTQ+ community are heard especially those who may be less visible and marginalised. As a national charity with equality and inclusion at the heart of what we do we should and must ensure all our employees are heard, and that they can challenge and provide input into how we can make our organisation more inclusive and diverse. With the Black Lives Matter movement taking place globally, there is an opportunity to address inequality and create a society better for everyone. It’s been over 50 years since the Stonewall Riots. Now more than ever we must all come together and push to create changes that will continue to shape a better future for all!

Now more than ever we must all come together and push to create changes that will continue to shape a better future for all!

What do our volunteers do? The day in the life of a Peer Mentor

Our volunteers cover a range of vital roles in Richmond Fellowship. Georgia, a Peer Mentor, tells us a little bit about her time as a volunteer.

A day in the life of a Peer Mentor at Richmond Fellowship

Hi I’m Georgie and I’m a Peer Mentor for Richmond Fellowship at our Hammersmith and Fulham Employment and Wellbeing Service. There is a team of Peer Mentors all running different types of groups. I was offered the opportunity to facilitate group sessions for two hours on Wednesdays.  Just like the people in the group, I have been through mental health challenges of my own and this experience helps me to connect with the people we support. The others run a Mindfulness group and another does Yoga; we hold groups in pairs or as a team.

I have been through mental health challenges of my own and this experience helps me to connect with the people we support.

On the weekend, I like to think about the next session and research the topic. For each one I like to have a topic which sparks conversation and reflection in the group.  I’ll find handouts and make notes. On my journey to White City I read my notes and get my thoughts in order. Then when I arrive, I set out chairs in a circle and prepare my notes. The group arrives in dribs and drabs and I’m always so pleased to see everyone. I’m delighted that they keep showing up.

I start each session with some games. Then we chat about our week and I’ll outline the session plan. Sometimes the group wants to focus on something different or one topic takes up the whole time as we get very deep into a discussion. I have to be flexible and sensitive to both the group dynamic and individuals to make sure everyone has the opportunity to contribute. I also lookout for anyone who is getting uncomfortable; it can be challenging but I always have some games on standby to lighten the mood. The goal of these games is always to promote group cohesion and fun. We all get to have a bit of a giggle!

Sometimes I may self-disclose about the topic we are discussing but this is not necessary for Peer Mentors. For example, if we are discussing responses to anxiety I will share with the group my challenges and what I did to manage them. This encourages others to feel comfortable sharing their own successes or difficulties with the group.

Time is always up far too soon. I give out proactive tasks each week. It can be anything, from observing negative thoughts for the week to sourcing a positive affirmation that they can share with the group next time. They don’t always do it, but I keep on trying!

I get plenty of support from the Wellbeing team and the Peer Mentor Coordinator. They look after my wellbeing and make sure I’m comfortable running my group. I can raise any concerns I have and the team are always available to help me.

When the people we support tell me that what we are doing has really helped or that they really enjoyed the session, it absolutely makes my day.

When the people we support tell me that what we are doing has really helped or that they really enjoyed the session, it absolutely makes my day. There is no doubt that this is the highlight of my week and I have grown so much from this experience. Through my efforts to aid others in their self-awareness, self-empowerment and routes to recovery, I have been encouraged to also focus on my own growth. Every person we support is wonderful in their own way and the care they give each other, despite the challenges they face, is truly inspiring!

Find out more about volunteering including how to apply here.

What do our volunteers do? Be-friender

Hi I’m Robin and I’m a befriender at Richmond Fellowship’s Hammersmith and Fulham Employment and Wellbeing service. To be a befriender you need four things: empathy, charisma, commitment and passion. Oh and you have to be a good listener!

Most befrienders will spend 1-2 hours a week volunteering, but this can increase as you become more comfortable and confident with talking to people.  You may eventually be matched with several people to provide companionship.

On any given day you could be talking, providing one to one support, going for walks together, exploring new places like parks and museums, meeting for coffee or accompanying your befriendee to appointments or a social group. I enjoy hearing positive feedback and about personal growth. Many of the people I speak with are very grateful for the service, which makes me proud to be a part of it. Befriending has helped me learn the value of silence in conversation, not rushing to fill gaps, but using the time to think. I have learnt that I am a good listener.

Befriending has helped me learn the value of silence in conversation, not rushing to fill gaps, but using the time to think. I have learnt that I am a good listener.

As a befriending volunteer you will also need to attend group supervision once a quarter with the option of individual support. Group support is an opportunity to meet with other volunteers at Richmond Fellowship and reflect on how your volunteering is going, what you’ve found challenging, what you’ve enjoyed and what you’ve learnt. Hearing that people are going through difficult times in their lives can be challenging, but being there to offer companionship and signpost to services that can help is a positive side.

Hearing that people are going through difficult times in their lives can be challenging, but being there to offer companionship and signpost to services that can help is a positive side.

Volunteering with Richmond Fellowship Hammersmith and Fulham Employment and Wellbeing Service will also provide you with the opportunity for training. On top of your induction training, we offer Open College Network (OCN) training which covers what it is to be a volunteer, essential skills that you need and understanding recovery, as well as the option of a ‘Tell your story’ module. But best of all befriending has helped me develop my interpersonal skills, giving me valuable experience working with people.

Click here for more information on volunteering with Richmond Fellowship.

Coordinating kindness

The current lockdown and pandemic has clearly taken its toll on people’s mental health. The isolation from peers and constant anxiety is exacerbating the conditions already caused by economic inequality. One of the ways we can improve the mental health of ourselves and others is through acts of kindness. This Mental Health Awareness Week Estelle, a recovery worker from Newbury supported housing service, tells us about the service and her community’s acts of kindness.

Since the coronavirus outbreak we have worked with the Newbury Furniture Project who’ve received food donations from local catering companies.

The project is delivering food parcels to the vulnerable, needy families around Newbury and West Berks on its own. Our service already had a good relationship with the project and we had a conversation with them about whether they would be happy for us to collect food direct from them to deliver to our service users. Our most vulnerable, self shielding and low income families received a parcel and it reduced the amount of deliveries the project staff would need to do.

“Making food for the other tenants gave me a sense of purpose”

One of the people we support used the donation to cook some meals for the other 3 tenants in her block of flats. The tenant said “Making food for the other tenants gave me a sense of purpose and helps us maintain a sense of community even with social distancing.”

Our service users have been extremely grateful when they receive a parcel saving them from going out and putting themselves at risk. We have also had a service user whose oven broke. We contacted the furniture project and within days she received a new one. Its been great working along side the project at this time and hope our relationship with them will continue in the future.

Employing new ideas

Laura Whitehouse, Autism and Asperger’s Employment Advisor, at Cambridgeshire Employment Service, talks about how a few kind moments can transform virtual service delivery.

The Covid-19 virus and current lockdown has meant that many of us have had to adapt to a new way of working and connecting with others. This Mental Health Awareness Week find out how our employment services have been continuing to offer support and kindness in a new, more virtual, world.

Before the lockdown, we would meet with the people face to face in our offices and at outreach locations. In these meetings we would help write CVs, complete application forms and give careers advice. We would help people prepare for employer meetings and discuss returns to work.

Then the Covid-19 lockdown hit us and suddenly we were not able to see those we support anymore. We were working remotely form our homes and we thought work would be quieter. However, we were still able to run our service and support those in need. We changed our face to face appointments to telephone calls allowing us to continue to work in a person-centred way.

“By adapting we could continue to help and offer advice on how to manage their mental health.”

At the start of the lockdown, we worked as a team to create a leaflet for service users with guidance on coping with the situation. It offered advice on staying connected, managing your mental health, learning new skills and how we can support them. We also included some signposting options. We have also been encouraging those we support to use the online support community Big White Wall and to connect with their own community.

By adapting we could continue to help and offer advice on how to manage their mental health. We use video conferencing software to support individuals with employer meetings and general guidance sessions. We have been supporting people by connecting with them others in similar situations We have a quiz over Zoom at the end of the week for a little fun. Other times we’ve had Zoom breakfasts and choir rehearsals. We are encouraging people to call their friends and family to stay in touch if they struggle with video calls.

As an employment service we have been able to still work and support those accessing our service. As well as remaining connected as a team through the social interactions on the phone or video conferencing and allowing us to have fun at this time. Stay well, Stay safe.

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.

Gender Pay Gap Reporting 2019-2020

Richmond Fellowship’s gender pay gap currently stands at 0.7%. This is well below the UK gender pay gap of 8% for our sector.

Read the statement here.

Along with other companies in the UK, Richmond Fellowship’s gender pay gap has seen a decrease every year.

The table below shows the median pay gap for Richmond Fellowship for 2018 and 2019.

Median Gender Pay Gap
Hourly Pay 2018 4.54%
Hourly Pay 2019 0.70%

The ‘gender pay gap’ is a percentage which shows the difference between the full time equivalent average (median) earnings of men and women. Often there is a gender pay gap in companies because there are fewer women in senior positions.

There are many reasons for this but importantly figures show an increased gender pay gap over the age of 40 which indicate that life events such as having a child may negatively impact progression.

Women returning to work after leave are paid 4% less than their counterparts. Societal and political changes are required to combat these causes.

Gender Pay Gap vs Equal Pay

The Gender Pay Gap as a measure can be criticised as it does not account for age, experience or difference in job roles. It is not a comparison of like for like jobs and may not provide the information people need to challenge unequal pay.

Equal pay, on the other hand, is a measure where like for like jobs are compared. This can usually only be done within a company and not across companies. In Iceland, they have implemented a legal equal pay standard whereby each job is analysed for education requirements, physical strain, mental stress, and responsibility and given an overall score. Time in position or time out of work impacts the measure less.

Although the gender pay gap may not be the best measure it certainly provides a basis for organisations to identify the reasons for their pay gap and develop action plans to combat it such as Richmond Fellowship has done.

Coronavirus update (23 March 2020)

As a mental health and recovery focussed group of charities, we know how vital it is for people to look after their mental health during the current coronavirus pandemic.

We’ve put robust measures and contingency plans in place at both national and local level to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all staff and people we support during this time of uncertainty.

As of Monday 23 March, all our mental health services remain operational across England, but we are anticipating some disruption to our services over the coming weeks. We’re reviewing the situation on a constant basis in line with government advice and will publish any updates on our website accordingly.

In the meantime, we ask all individuals visiting our services to observe government and Public Health England advice and guidance, including:

– washing hands thoroughly for 20 seconds when arriving and leaving our services
– practicing the distancing measures of 2 metres between individuals
– not to attend face to face appointments if they’re showing signs of coronavirus and to self isolate.

We also ask if they’re unable to make an appointment, to let their Recovery Worker or Employment Advisor know.

Derek Caren, Chief Executive of Richmond Fellowship said:

‘As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to change rapidly, I’d like to pay tribute to our staff that are providing such an important service for people we support at the moment. The safety of both clients and staff remains our number one priority and we’re continually reviewing the situation in line with government recommendations. I’d also like to take the opportunity to remind both staff and people we support that they have access to Big White Wall, the online 24/7 mental health resource and to sign up if they haven’t done so already’.

Old Moat Garden Centre scoops Good Retail Award

Richmond Fellowship’s Old Moat Garden Centre in Surrey has won another prestigious award, this time competing against a range of retail organisations from all over the UK.

The Good Retail Awards are presented every year at the retail trade show Spring Fair at Birmingham NEC and celebrate retailers making a positive impact in the industry.

The Old Moat won the Community Award for companies who have gone above and beyond to transform and enhance the lives of others.

Judges commended the garden centre for its “lasting impact in the local community”.

The Old Moat is a hugely successful garden centre that provides a work-based program for local people living with mental health challenges, giving them the confidence and skills to get back into employment.

Each year the centre’s work impacts directly on about 150 people living with mental ill health, but the ripple effect touches hundreds more as their families and friends gain peace of mind, waiting lists in doctors’ surgeries and hospitals are reduced, employers gain qualified confident staff, and the community is enriched by their increased participation in it.

A person we supported said on his last day:

“It’s like a community here, everyone knows each other, I’ve had a lot of fun, and it’s really helped me out”.

To find out more about The Old Moat Garden Centre, visit www.theoldmoatgardencentre.org.uk.