Will’s story

Receiving tailored support for his mental health has given Will the confidence to explore his hobbies and interests again

Will’s story

Will has been receiving mental health and tenancy sustainment support from Thames Reach through our partnership with the Lambeth Living Well Network Alliance. He is now looking at life beyond his diagnosis and is enjoying his hobbies and interests again, which include dancing and record collecting.

Will is in his mid-fifties.  He has a complex mental health diagnosis, for which he needs a high level of support. When he first received support from the Lambeth Living Well Network Alliance, he was living in his own self-contained flat. He has found it difficult to manage a tenancy, so the team established that the type of accommodation he was in was not suitable for him. For Will, the stress of maintaining a tenancy had been one of the primary triggers leading to relapsing in his mental health, so this was taken into consideration when assessing his support needs.

An acceptance of his diagnosis and need for medication to help him manage his condition was achieved sensitively and through one-to-one conversations, so he could ensure that moving forward, this was in his best interest. When he was discharged from his last hospital admission, the Home Treatment Team (HTT ) visited regularly to support him in taking his medication, but he is now able to self-medicate independently.

His support workers have played a key role in helping Will manage his tenancy and thus reduce his stress levels. He also finds it hard to maintain his flat, so has a cleaner who visits once a week.

He needs support with tasks around computer literacy, processing information and liaising with services, as this is another source of stress for him, so his support workers have been advocating for him with various services. For instance, they have supported him when making phone calls to utility companies or to his landlord to report repairs, and then breaking information down for him. This has been achieved by building up a relationship of trust between Will and his support workers, through regular meetings and a consistent and empathetic approach, so that he feels comfortable asking for their support.

Aside from his health and tenancy needs, Will has also required support with financial management. The team have helped him set up affordable repayment agreements, minimising his debt by helping him claim discounts that are offered to people needing extra support. He has been assisted in claiming benefits and opening a bank account.

Will is a keen collector of records and other pop music memorabilia, and often explores charity shops in different parts of London looking for collectable items. He also enjoys his garden and often buys flowers and plants. He loves to discuss these subjects when support workers visit, and these conversations put him in a relaxed state of mind. Having a positive interest that he can pursue has greatly assisted his recovery.

Five years has now passed since Will’s last hospital admission. He has a sense of fulfilment and feels he has a strong network in the community to support him. He has just completed a course in IT through Thames Reach’s Employment and Skills team and is now able to use a smartphone and access the internet. Now, he is planning for the future and is being supported in exploring further groups and courses. As well as taking part in gardening groups, he hopes to begin dance classes, an activity that he enjoyed in the past and hopes to incorporate into his recovery journey.

New figures show 19% reduction in rough sleeping

New CHAIN figures released today show a reduction in new people coming onto the streets

New figures show 19% reduction in rough sleeping

We welcome the publication of the Quarter 3 2021/2 CHAIN (Combined Homelessness and Information Network) figures by the Greater London Authority today.   The figures cover the months September to December 2021, and show a slow but welcome reduction in the overall numbers of people sleeping rough across London in the quarter, 11% down on the same period last year.

However, within this headline figure we see a worrying rise in the number of people experiencing rough sleeping in the long-term (19% increase on last year, and 16% higher than the previous quarter), defined in the report as ‘People Living on the Streets’.  The factors behind this rise are complex, but include the lack of options for people with unclear immigration status, difficulties in accessing suitable health and drug and alcohol services, as well as a shortage of supported accommodation spaces for people with complex needs.

This increase in people who are sleeping rough long-term further highlights the importance of targeted prevention and early intervention aimed at those at risk of street homelessness.  In the work we do, there is clear evidence that support at an early stage helps prevent the devastating experience and impact of rough sleeping on an individual’s health and future well-being. Providing support at this level as well as helping an individual to find and stay in suitable accommodation is how we will keep working to reduce the numbers we see in today’s report.

The report is available to read online here.

Lambeth Together starts 2022 with a pledge to improve health and wellbeing for all

Leaders of Lambeth’s health organisations have made a pledge which describes the work of the Lambeth Together Care Partnership to improve health and care and reduce health inequalities in the borough

Lambeth Together starts 2022 with a pledge to improve health and wellbeing for all

Leaders of Lambeth’s NHS, council and voluntary and community organisations have recorded a video of their pledge which describes how they will work as the Lambeth Together Care Partnership to improve health and care and reduce health inequalities in the borough. This comes at a time when partners are preparing for new formalised arrangements in line with the Government’s Health and Care Bill to build better joined up systems around health and care. Watch their pledge here.

From 1 January 2022, the Lambeth Together Care Partnership began to operate in shadow form, in anticipation of the legislation placing integrated care systems on a statutory footing in the summer of 2022. The new arrangements will improve the borough’s shared planning and delivery of services, as one of six place-based partnerships of south east London’s developing integrated care system. The Lambeth Together Care Partnership will have responsibility for delivering a new Lambeth Together Health & Wellbeing Strategy and the borough’s Health & Care Plan.

Councillor Jim Dickson, Lambeth’s Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care, and Dr Di Aitken, Clinical Lead for the Lambeth Neighbourhood & Wellbeing Delivery Alliance, will jointly chair the Lambeth Together Care Partnership Board, reflecting shared leadership across the NHS and the local authority. Andrew Eyres, Strategic Director for Integrated Health and Care across the NHS and Lambeth Council, will be the executive lead for Lambeth Together. Other members of the board include representatives from Guy’s and St Thomas’, King’s College Hospital and South London and the Maudsley NHS Foundation Trusts, Lambeth general practice, Healthwatch and the local community including the voluntary sector.

Dr Di Aitken said: “I’m delighted to see us take this important step forward in integrated care, and I look forward to hearing from local people about what matters most to them as we develop our local Health and Care Plan.”

“We want to make our Pledge known to the community as this underpins all the work we do. It represents our shared values, behaviours and, in particular, the ways we will come together to tackle health inequalities in Lambeth.”

Councillor Jim Dickson said: “We need to continue listening and learning as we’ve done throughout the coronavirus pandemic so that we emerge stronger, more connected and less unequal as a community. We welcome these developments in the Health & Care Bill. And we will continue to work more closely with NHS colleagues and our communities to take forward our shared ambitions to improve health and shape what we do around local need as well as our best evidence of what works”.

Integrated care systems (ICSs) bring together NHS providers and commissioners with local authorities and other partners to collectively plan health and care services to meet the needs of their populations. By integrating care across different organisations and settings, joining up hospital and community-based services, physical and mental health, and health and social care, integrated care systems aim to improve population health and reduce inequalities, support sustainability of services; and help the NHS to support social and economic development. All parts of England are now covered by one of 42 ICSs.

With relationships and arrangements for working together developed since 2018 through the Lambeth Together Strategic Board, Lambeth health and care partners are well placed to assume delegated responsibility for planning and managing the majority of services to support health at borough level. Find out more about Lambeth Together and its leadership.

The Lambeth Together Care Partnership holds its board meetings in public every two months, with the opportunity to ask question in a public forum at the start of every meeting. If you have an interest in health and wellbeing in Lambeth, you’re welcome to come along and share your views. Find out about the next public forum here.

Lambeth Living Well Alliance shortlisted for HSJ Partnership Award

The Lambeth Living Well Network Alliance has been nominated for the ‘Best Mental Health Partnership in the NHS’ category at the HSJ Partnership Awards

Lambeth Living Well Alliance shortlisted for HSJ Partnership Award

The Lambeth Living Well Network Alliance are pleased to have been shortlisted for ‘Best Mental Health Partnership Award with the NHS’ award in the HSJ Partnership Awards.

The Alliance is part of the Lambeth Together Partnership and brings together member organisations: South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM), Lambeth Council, Certitude, NHS South East London Clinical Commissioning Group (SEL CCG) and Thames Reach, to deliver a transformation in the way people in Lambeth recover from mental ill health and to help them stay well. Its objective is to offer users of its services a wider breadth of options to do so.

Judges are selected from across the NHS and wider healthcare sector. Judges contribute valuable time and effort to work through hundreds of entries, reviewing against strict criteria and attributing scores against a transparent system aimed at rewarding and recognising the best of UK Healthcare.

Bill Tidnam, Chief Executive of Thames Reach, said: “Being shortlisted for the partnership awards is a great recognition of the Alliance staff. Working as an Alliance gives us the opportunity to draw the best from all the partner organisations whether the NHS, the council or the voluntary sector.”

Sabrina Phillips, Director of the Lambeth Living Well Network Alliance, said: “I am extremely proud that we have been shortlisted as one of the finalists for the HSJ Partnership Awards in the category of Best Mental Health Partnership with the NHS. This a positive reflection of the hard work and dedication of our staff, and recognises the collaborative efforts of our  Alliance Partners to successfully implement The Lambeth Living Well Network Alliance. We are committed to delivering improved access, experience and outcomes for our patients, and to be chosen among the other incredible nominees is a wonderful achievement.  This nomination has been a tremendous boost to staff in the Alliance, and I am sure it will bolster our continued efforts to improve our services for the people of Lambeth.”

The winners will be announced on 24 March 2022, at a ceremony in London.

Lambeth Living Well Alliance appoints new director

Lambeth Living Well Network Alliance is pleased to announce the appointment of its new director

The Lambeth Living Well Network Alliance is pleased to announce the appointment of its new director, Sabrina Phillips. Following a competitive recruitment process including external candidates, Sabrina has been selected by the panel after holding the post of interim director for eighteen months. Prior to that, she had worked at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM) for seventeen years.

The Alliance is a delivery of the Lambeth Together Partnership and brings together member organisations: South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM), Lambeth Council, Certitude, NHS South East London Clinical Commissioning Group (SEL CCG) and Thames Reach, to deliver a transformation in the way people in Lambeth recover from mental ill health and to help them stay well. Its objective is to offer users of its services a wider breadth of options to do so. By working in collaboration, the vision of the Alliance, now with Sabrina at its helm, will work towards being more joined up; quicker and easier to access and focus more on prevention, avoiding crises and unnecessary admissions to hospital.

Sabrina Phillips said: “I am delighted to take up the role as Substantive Alliance Director. Having acted in the role for the past 18 months, I have seen first-hand the resilience of the service users we care for and the people that care for them at an unprecedented time. The passion and drive of Alliance staff to improve the quality of care we deliver to the communities of Lambeth is truly inspiring, but there is more to do. I am committed to working collaboratively with service users, carers, staff and other partners to deliver on our vision to transform mental health care for the people of Lambeth and to deliver the outcomes that matter to them that we committed to as an Alliance.”

James Lowell, chief operating officer at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, said: “I know that many people will be delighted to hear that Sabrina Phillips has been appointed permanently into the role of alliance director following a competitive process.”

Bill Tidnam, chief executive at Thames Reach, said: “We’re really pleased that Sabrina has been successful in her application to the permanent alliance director role and we look forward to working closely with her over the years to come.”


Learn more about the Living Well Network Alliance on their website.

Further enquiries including press and media can be directed to: Isobel Scott, communications lead, Thames Reach: media@thamesreach.org.uk

How you can help homeless and vulnerable people this Christmas

Donate to our Big Give Christmas Challenge today

How you can help homeless and vulnerable people this Christmas

If you have enjoyed the Banquet, Mark Holford, the WCIT Deputy Master, asks you to give generously to the Thames Reach Hard to Reach Fund, which will provide vital support to the people we work with this Christmas.

Clicking the Donate button below will take you to our Big Give page  where every pound you give will be doubled. We have a target of £11,250 which will be doubled to £22,500 (as of Friday we have raised £5,000). We expect this to help 100 to 150 people. This donation page will remain open until Tuesday.

Donate

 

Here are some examples of the good your donation will do:

£350 – Could furnish a flat for somebody moving into their own place for the first time in many years

£100 – Could buy someone a bike to cycle to a new job

£40 – Could buy a smart phone for someone, helping them to stay in touch with loved ones and access support, a crucial lifeline during the pandemic

£15 – Could cover the travel costs of someone accessing emergency accommodation

Donate today and help provide vital support to the people we work with this Christmas.

Thanks so much for your support.

Happy Christmas from Thames Reach.

Ivo, from South London, pictured above, is just one of the people who’s been helped by the Hard to Reach Fund, to read about how we helped him recover from long term mental health difficulties, click here.

Ivo’s story

Since moving into his own flat, Ivo has seen a huge improvement in his mental health, taking real steps forward on his path to recovery.

Ivo’s story

Since moving into his own flat, Ivo has seen a huge improvement in his mental health, taking real steps forward on his path to recovery.

He first moved into his new flat in January through Brokerage and Resettlement in Lambeth (BRiL), a collaborative project between Lambeth council and Thames Reach, which aims to provide people living in supported or residential accommodation with a flat of their own.

People who have struggled with long-term mental health problems can sometimes end up staying in residential homes or supported housing longer than they need to, often because there are no suitable alternatives. BRiL is addressing this by purchasing properties on the open market and then letting them to formerly homeless people at an affordable rate.

Ivo, originally from Brazil, has lived in the UK for 35 years, and worked at the Savoy Hotel for 20 years, eventually becoming head butler. Around 2011, he began to struggle with his mental health. He eventually became very ill and had to move into supported accommodation. He spent a number of years receiving support and treatment, which, over time, gradually lead to an improve­ment in his mental health; however, he reached a point where this environment began to hold him back and prevent him from making a full recovery.

‘I’ve always lived by myself before, so I started to find it difficult having so many strangers around me all the time, people checking up on me, having no independence, it felt very constricting and I felt like I wasn’t able to get better,’ Ivo says.

BRiL were able to help Ivo make those final steps in an environment better suited to him, moving him in to his new flat, which is his indefinitely, and helping to furnish it. A support worker also initially helped Ivo with his meals, setting up an internet connection, and organising bills.

‘I really like it here, I like the flat, the location is perfect for me, I can walk everywhere I need to go, I’ve lived in Streatham for years before so know the area. Every day, I exercise by walking to Brixton and back, which is really helping me.’

Ivo is also currently volunteering two days a week at a local charity shop, and has enrolled on a volunteer peer mentorship course in order to help others who are in a similar situation to where he used to be. He also spends a lot of time reading, particularly biographies.

‘I’m feeling really well now, 50% better. Living with strangers was difficult on top of feeling unwell at the time. I need space and quiet in order to feel mentally well and this flat has really helped me with that so much.’

To find out more about the support Ivo received when settling into his new home, read about our Big Give Christmas Challenge.

Thames Reach respond to mental health needs in the local community

The need for specialised mental health support has never been higher; around 50% of people experiencing street homelessness also have mental health support needs. We spoke with Monica, programme manager at the Lambeth Living Well Network Alliance, about Thames Reach’s role in supporting good mental health and wellbeing in the community.

Thames Reach respond to mental health needs in the local community

In the year 2020/21 almost half the people seen sleeping rough were assessed as having mental health support needs. This is a significant factor in helping people not only move on from street homelessness, but prevent episodes of sleeping rough in the first place. In response Thames Reach has teamed up with NHS mental health services, Lambeth council and other charitable organisations to improve the way these services work and to make sure that they are accessible to the people we work with.

Monica Geraghty, programme manager at the Lambeth Living Well Network Alliance, a service dedicated to mental health provisions in the borough, discusses its incredible work and how she looks after her own mental wellbeing.

“I have been working as part of the Lambeth Living Well Network Alliance (LWNA) for two years, and I am currently programme manager. The Alliance is a collaboration between five organisations: Certitude and Thames Reach (voluntary sector); NHS Lambeth Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) – now part of South-East London CCG; South London & Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM), and Lambeth Council. This collaboration brings together agencies from statutory and voluntary sector organisations who work together to provide smoother access to services and support for those who need it.

“Adapting to the pandemic has been a challenge but one that teams have executed well. Inpatients wards have had to redesign how they operate to manage COVID-positive cases. The Alliance Rehabilitation Team and the 3 Living Well Centres (LWC) have had to pull their resources together and adjust to remote working practices. A lot of hard work has gone into developing these changes, which has included people working outside the normal expectations of their roles to ensure services have always remained covered. During the first lockdown I was part of the LWC duty system which I wouldn’t normally have done which gave me a good insight to the work and pressures these teams face.

“From these experiences we have found that as an Alliance we are resourceful and adaptable; teams have been focused on how we can support our Lambeth service users and have instigated change at pace to ensure this can happen. The other big change is that everyone now knows how to use Microsoft teams – there is no escaping it!”

Exhibition opens with artwork by members of the Deptford Reach community

Deptford Reach’s partnership with arts charity Create continues with a display of artwork at Deptford Lounge, which is publicly viewable from the street until the new year

Exhibition opens with artwork by members of the Deptford Reach community

Photographs and writing created by members of the Deptford Reach community have gone on display at Deptford Lounge, as part of a project with arts charity Create.

Participants created the artwork as part of a 12-week project run by Create, and funded by the Deptford Challenge Trust. Guided by two professional artists, photographer Alicia Clarke and writer James Baldwin, the members of Deptford Reach explored a variety of photographic techniques (including reportage and still-life) and writing styles (including monologues and short stories) in order to express themselves and find their voice.

The resulting artworks are now on public display in the windows at Deptford Lounge until the New Year, and can be seen for free by passers-by.

“I’ve enjoyed every minute of the workshops,” said one of the participants. “I like to do different things with my mind, like using the camera, writing and all that. I enjoy coming here to do it because it gives me something to do instead of sitting down indoors all day doing nothing. It helps me with my mind doing different things.”

Deptford Reach’s ‘Speak With My Voice’ partnership with Create has been running 2008. The project gives vulnerable adults the opportunity to work creatively with professional artists and one another, using photography and creative writing to break down barriers, build relationships and trust, reduce isolation, enhance self-confidence and self-esteem, and have fun.

Nicky Goulder, founding chief executive at Create, said: “This important project gives vulnerable adults the opportunity to work creatively with our professional artists and one another, using photography and creative writing to break down barriers, build relationships and trust, reduce isolation, enhance self-confidence and self-esteem, and have fun. Never has this work been more important, at a time when everyone has experienced increased isolation, and it has been a privilege to enable these participants to express themselves and enhance their wellbeing over the past few months. I hope everyone enjoys the exhibition, which demonstrates their talent so wonderfully.”

Jordan McTigue, lead manager at Deptford Reach, said: “This year has seen our work at Deptford Reach look quite different. While we usually operate as a day centre, we are now providing a floating support service to ensure vulnerable people in the community are not further isolated by the pandemic. Taking part in creative projects is something we know is incredibly beneficial, and well received, towards mental wellbeing, and we’re really pleased that this exhibition with Create is taking place at the heart of the community.”

Alicia Clarke, Create photographer, said: “It has been my pleasure to facilitate photography workshops with attendees of Deptford Reach. Taking inspiration from some famous photographers’ work, and discussing the meaning behind images, were key parts of our workshops, and it was so inspiring to then see the world interpreted through the eyes of the participants. There were lots of diverse interests within the group and I feel that everyone found ways to express themselves, and to enjoy the work of their peers. We had so much fun!”

James Baldwin, Create writer, said: “The group chose to focus on screenwriting and adaptation, speech writing and rhetoric, monologues for theatre, poetry and song, and short stories. Across this display you’ll find the pieces of work that each writer feels represents their voice best. Like a photograph captures a single moment in time, the writer’s writing captures them on that day, in that mood, with those thoughts. A literary snapshot documenting unusual times.”

 

How do our residential services support those with mental health needs in lockdown?

We spoke to Amy Dawe, Lead Manager of Thames Reach’s Bermondsey Project, supporting people with mental health needs. She explains how communication between staff and residents is key in understanding the pandemic

How do our residential services support those with mental health needs in lockdown?

“I’m the Lead Manager of the Bermondsey Project, which is three residential buildings in the area, each with ten self-contained or studio flats. Our project is mixed gender, but the majority of our residents are men. All residents have been referred to us from the mental health team and residents’ support needs fluctuate and the nature of mental health is that support needs are not always straightforward; someone can go from being stable to unstable fairly quickly. So within the project we deliver housing management and provide key work support – everyone is on a support plan tailored to their individual needs. We are always monitoring any safeguarding concerns and work closely with partner organisations; usually we have lots of different people coming in, like occupational therapists, social workers, carers, mental health professionals.

“Service users moving on to the next step is at the forefront of everyone’s plan throughout their time with us. This is generally two years but this is assessed on an individual basis. The client group we work with are often not suited to the private rental sector, so we need to make sure they’re supported in the right way.

“Changes during lockdown have been mostly around informing and advising residents about the situation, as some don’t follow the news and some don’t understand the situation. For instance we’ve had to make sure they’re aware that the shops they visit all the time are laid out differently and not always open the way they usually are. Communicating change is something we need to do regularly as well as reminders about personal hygiene. It is particularly important that we make sure those with additional health needs know to shield themselves. We’ve distributed leaflets and letters as well as speaking with them face-to-face while observing social distancing around the projects. Some residents need to be reminded about the new rules but we are around to make sure that no one gets left behind. The general feedback from residents is that the regular contact makes them feel cared for; we get in touch with them to make sure that they don’t have symptoms and have their essentials fully stocked. With fewer members of staff we’re running a skeleton staff at the moment who have really pulled together. Rob, who runs the MIMO course in the Employment and Skills team, has been redeployed here and he’s been amazing. He’s been decorating and deep-cleaning our rooms and communal areas, we’re so grateful for his work. As for staff, the team have felt valued by Thames Reach; our PPE deliveries have come very quickly, and when we did run low our stocks were replenished the next day with no issues. It’s been clear that our health and safety is really important.

“Some real positives have come from the current situation, in that we’ve seen the sheer dedication of our staff. We’ve been low in number but no one has complained and people have taken on new roles and responsibilities to fill the gaps and make sure the service we provide is still of the same high standard. I’m really proud of the team and how they’ve adapted, they’re a real credit to us and Thames Reach.”

– Amy Dawe, Lead Manager, Bermondsey Project