The right tools for the job

May Lee, our Person Centred Development Manager, has written this month’s blog on Helen Sanderson’s website about the success of using the right tools.  Catch up with May’s blog here.


Mental Health: Unrestricted

Mental Health: Unrestricted is a short documentary exploring the personal experiences of mental health by young people in the London Borough of Brent. The young people were given space to say what they really feel, their fears and hopes for the future. You will hear that mental health is real and can affect anyone. Mental health is challenging, but getting through difficult situations makes you stronger and can help you realise your true potential. This film was produced by Fanon Community Development Workers and directed by Jonathan Nyati, a film producer and actor based at South Kilburn Studios.


The film was also supported by Kilburn Youth Centre, Addaction, Music and Change, and NHS Brent, as part of a wider programme of work to improve the wellbeing of young adults aged 18-25. The focus of this work is to encourage a dialogue about mental health, so young adults are more confident about accessing services at the earliest opportunity. Raising awareness of mental health and wellbeing, including how to cope and where to get help is part of a more preventative approach to mental health. The film can also be used as a training resource for services who engage with young people including mental health professionals and the police.

For more information about the film or Fanon Community Development Work contact a member of the Brent CDW Team on: 020 3397 2275 or via email to


Fulfilling Potential – rhetoric or opportunity?

Some of you will have seen Maria Miller, MP for Disabled People’s discussion paper on Fulfilling Potential, setting out the Government’s commitment to breaking down the barriers to social mobility and equal opportunities faced by disabled people in Britain.

The paper sets out some expectations about how people with disabilities should expect to be included in society and seeks ideas and contributions from people with disabilities in three areas, Realising Ambition, Individual Control and Changing Attitudes and Behaviours. It strikes me that there are two lenses through which one can read this paper. The first one, I do confess is a rather cynical one which considers this a load of rhetoric with little bite or accountability for delivering change. It flies in the face of the reality that support for people with disabilities, including speaking up support through advocacy,  is being savagely cut across the country. A time when people with mental health needs are suitably worried about the impact of a plethora of changes in welfare benefits on their ability to cope. Produced by a minister who recently claimed that those who are out of work have ‘a lack of appetite’ for the jobs that are out there, despite unemployment levels at their highest in 17 years, may indeed leave one questioning the very sincerity of the intent. Now having got that of my chest like most cynical views it achieves little and to be frank is wasted energy. So let’s focus on what the disability movement is renowned for,  finding possibilities in adversity and indeed maximising the opportunities to influence people in every sector of society of the true benefit of genuine inclusion.

The alternative lens therefore, and indeed the Certitude approach, is to recognise and embrace the opportunity this offers to share with others the benefits of a diverse society with people with disabilities contributing at every level. From Yvette, someone we support with learning disabilities who is playing a starring role in her local Amateur Dramatics production, to John who co-chairs the partnership board in Ealing with the Director of Social Services. Our Treat me Right! project which is working with GPs, and hospital based staff to change attitudes and the treatment of people with learning disabilities when in hospital. The team of Travel Buddies we employ who offer their experience in supporting other people with learning disabilities to use public transport. The individuals with lived experience of mental distress who are offering peer support ‘out of hours’ to others who need that supportive and empathetic ear. These are the people who are taking control and changing public attitudes every day. Let’s use this opportunity to appreciate and share the success of inclusion so those parts of society or businesses who don’t embrace it soon realise that they are missing a fundamental trick in achieving success.

Please do send your positive stories and ideas to Maria Miller as part of the Fulfilling Potential consultation document by 1 March.



Paul’s story

Paul is a son, a brother, an uncle and a friend. Paul is also a man who is often defined by the support he needs – and sometimes the amount this costs. Over the next couple of years we plan to learn with Paul about what personalisation really means and how easy it is for Paul to have more control over his life and the support that he needs and wants.

The following documents have been used to make sure that Paul’s needs and wishes directed the recent recruitment of staff to his support team.  Person Centred People Matching Tool  Person Specification

Paul’s latest film looks at how Paul’s life is starting to change as the personalisation agenda takes on real meaning.

First museum of learning disability opens

Langdon Down was once a progressive hospital, now it’s the first museum of learning disability. Fore more information and opening times visit their website.

Dr John Langdon Down was a Victorian physician who established Normansfield in 1868 as a family home and a place where people with learning disabilities could be cared for and educated at a time when most of them would have been condemned to life in an asylum. This remarkable man built a beautiful Theatre and encouraged his patients/students to learn music and drama as part of their education. He provided work experience in woodwork and farming in a way that was probably more advanced than some of the provision available today. Most of his students had the condition that now bears his name and he is known internationally as the ‘Father of Down’s syndrome’.