It’s become more than volunteering now

7As we have heard, volunteers can be vital to supporting organisations in achieving their goals. Because of their desire to contribute and help, volunteers are often highly engaged and committed to the outcomes of their work. Volunteers are also able to gain new experiences and insights, give back and help others, create connections with people, have a real sense of accomplishment and start to build different career options through their experiences.

Continuing Volunteer’s Week 2016, we caught up with Natalie Chillington, who volunteers to help the promotion and running of our Cut a Rug music nights in West Norwood. When asked what she does and why, Natalie replied:

“I help out with Certitude’s Cut a Rug music nights which take place on the second Friday of every month at the Portico Gallery in West Norwood – next one is 10th June and everyone is welcome!

I maintain the website, help look for bands to put on, update the @cutarugmusic Twitter account and assist with the running of the night itself – I can usually be found on the door with Natalie who works for Certitude and Sabina, another volunteer.

I applied to volunteer at Certitude and help out with these nights in particular because I wanted to do something worthwhile with my spare time and gain more experience working in the charity sector. However, it’s become more than that now. I thoroughly enjoy the nights we put on and being around such lovely people who share a passion for music, equality and inclusiveness.”

If you know anyone that might like to play at a Cut a Rug music night, or would like to know more about what it’s like to volunteer, please feel free to email Natalie at nchillington@certitude.org.uk.

The Big Event

The Big EventBig event logo-01

Wednesday 22nd June 11am-6pm

The QEII Conference Centre, Broad Sanctuary, Westminster, SW1P 3EE

Certitude is hosting an inclusive, accessible event for people we support, families and carers and staff. Plans are well underway with lots of stalls and entertainment, including performances from our choirs and other regular performers with Certitude. We are also holding a baking competition which will be judged by Kimberley Wilson from the Great British Bake Off series 4. To enter the baking competition, please email Kathleen Isaac for an entry form at kisaac@certitude.org.uk.

Drop in and find out about the different opportunities Certitude and our partners offer, attend workshops, enjoy some entertainment, meet other people who are supported by Certitude and their families, and find out how to get involved with some of our activities! Please see below for our workshop and entertainment agendas.

We look forward to seeing you there!

WorkshopsEntertainment

 

 

Volunteers Week 1-10 June 2016

Volunteers Week logoAccording to the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), over 21 million people volunteer in the UK at least once a year. This adds around £23.9bn to the British economy and behind these large numbers is a huge contribution. Volunteers are an invaluable resource for charities – by offering their time, energy and talents they can help organisations to fulfil their mission.

To celebrate volunteers, NCVO is running a National Volunteering Week from 1-12 June. ‘But that’s longer than a week!’ some of you might say. NCVO have decided to make it longer this year to allow more people and charities than ever to take part and celebrate.

Throughout the week, we will be talking about how different people volunteer with Certitude, what it means to them and how you might be able to get involved too! To kick us off, Elena Sabatini, Development Bid Writer, talks about an exciting project that will be running throughout the week.

“We have been working in partnership with University College London (UCL), who run the Global Citizenship Programme every year. The aim of this programme is to give students a first-hand experience of working life in voluntary organisations like Certitude. The volunteers work on a specific project which helps the organisation towards achieving its goals as well as enabling them to experience what it is like to be involved with Certitude. At the end of their placement they will produce a presentation or report. Having to create a tangible piece of work like a presentation or report gives the students a goal to achieve and something to take away from the project and feel proud of.

Certitude has been working with UCL since January and is excited to welcome six students from1-10 June 2016. They will be joining Certitude as volunteers by helping us to collect stories about our impact in Hounslow. We have chosen to start in Hounslow as around 15% of people we support at Certitude who have learning disabilities live there! We will be asking the volunteers to collect as many stories as they can, and to create a final presentation or report (the choice is up to them!) which sums up our impact in Hounslow over the past decade.

As many of you will already be aware, stories play a crucial role in supporting the work of organisations like Certitude. By highlighting our impact they can help engage the surrounding community and raise money. They are also valuable internally to share our learning (through both successes and challenges) and to celebrate our positive work. By collecting so many stories about our impact in Hounslow, the volunteers’ work will be invaluable in aiding Certitude’s development and helping us raise funds in the borough.

The volunteers will also benefit from a full-day induction. Marianne Selby-Boothroyd, Director of Development, and John Keaveny, Trainer with the Treat Me Right! Project, have kindly offered their time and expertise to introduce them to Certitude’s history, mission and values. The volunteers will also learn about the challenges the social care sector faces currently, and what role stories can play in tackling these challenges.

We will be updating you on their experiences at the end of the week, but for now, please join me in welcoming our six new volunteers!”

 

The importance of Peer Support

Barry PicContinuing Mental Health Awareness Week and the theme of ‘relationships’, we spoke to Charlie Wright, a Peer Supporter in Lambeth who often watches the positive impact that forming good relationships can have on people. Here, he shares his experiences working with Barry.

Originally from New Zealand, Barry moved to England in the 1970s with his father, who sadly died a few years ago. He had worked all of his life loading and unloading haulage containers to farms in New Zealand, also in Blackpool Pleasure Beach and in the London Underground. Barry was recently diagnosed with Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) however has struggled with anxiety, in his words, ‘for as long as I can remember’. GAD is a debilitating issue for Barry and this, along with a lack of confidence, means that he doesn’t go out very much.

Barry also has a stammer and has found that people haven’t always had the time or patience to talk with him, which has left him feeling very isolated. I have always been very patient with Barry, giving him time to say everything he wants as he certainly talks a lot!

When we first started talking about meeting in Barry’s local community, he talked a lot about his anxieties around leaving his home and going out, so we made sure we met somewhere very near his home where he felt comfortable. For this first meeting, we went for a short walk to a local park where he felt he could relax. It was during our second meeting at a local coffee shop (a 5 minute walk from his house) that Barry admitted he had never ventured out that far from home before.

Through our meetings, I discovered lots of different interests that I shared with Barry – computers, the internet, music (specifically heavy metal and classical) and also travelling, something he wants to explore a lot more when he is able.

During our third meeting, I started to notice little changes – little differences which have reassured me that he is starting to grow in confidence, such as showing an interest in his personal presentation and wanting to buy new clothes. Barry has also shown an interest in visiting the Mosaic Club House and the Wellbeing Centre in Clapham which would mean building more relationships with people and has even suggested he might considering volunteering for peer support work in future.

Through the relationship that I have built with Barry, I have observed Barry’s willingness to trust me to support him emotionally and access things in his community. A marked difference from going to a park near his home, to venturing out to his local café and now engaging in activities at the Clapham Wellbeing Centre. Barry continues to challenge himself and takes steps to overcome his anxiety, whilst trusting me to support him to achieve this.

Barry Pic 1When I spoke to Barry after our visit to Clapham Wellbeing Centre today, he said:

“Knowing that Charlie has lived experience of overcoming his own crisis made it easier for me to engage with him. On our way to Clapham Wellbeing Centre today, we sat on top of a double decker bus, something I haven’t done in 3 years. What really helped with my anxieties whilst on the bus was being able to talk to Charlie”.

Barry shows a constant eagerness to enhance his lifestyle and beat his anxieties and, with the new relationships he is now developing, I fully believe he can.

 

Keeping London Connected

Today is a wonderful milestone in Certitude’s history. After 25 years of supporting people across London, we’re launching our first ever fundraising campaign to fight social isolation.

Please donate to our JustGiving page, or click on Fundraise to take on your own challenge to support our campaign.

 

 

Recent research has shown that being lonely and socially isolated can increase a person’s risk of heart disease or stroke, discussed here.

London can be a lonely city for all of us, and people with learning disabilities and mental health support needs are statistically even more likely to find themselves socially isolated.

Traditional support often fails to address the wider social factors that contribute to someone’s isolation. Our Community Connectors in London support people to build their own social networks and lasting friendships.

With their support, people build in confidence, become more independent and start to break down any barriers they may face when trying to make a supported and valued contribution within their community.

We’re doing everything we can to Keep London Connected; find out more!

 

We believe that going out, being active and interacting with your community has a tremendous impact upon your mental and physical wellbeing. Throughout our campaign, we’ll be sharing stories from some people we know who have done just this at Certitude.

You will also hear from our valiant volunteers, fearless fundraisers and spirited staff, who are taking on a variety of daring challenges to raise money for Certitude.

Visit our campaign page to keep up-to-date on what’s going on, follow us on Twitter and Facebook, and why not share your own experiences using the #ConnectLDN hashtag?

You can raise your own funds for our social isolation campaign by setting up a JustGiving page and clicking on the “Fundraise for Campaign” button. Or, if you prefer, you can donate £5 by texting CERT01 £5 to 70070.

Do you have any questions? Get in touch with Sam.Mason@certitude.org.uk to chat with our Community Fundraiser.

Thank you!

Come and “Cut a Rug” at the Portico Gallery – everyone invited!

It’s all going on at The Portico Gallery in West Norwood on Friday May 13th, when Certitude hosts its next acoustic Cut a Rug night.

This lively event is designed to be inclusive to all parts of the local community, and the line up of talented acts – including south London four-piece After Alice, popular skiffle band JD and the Longfellows and a lyrical genius by the name of Jess Hiley – is guaranteed to get the place jumping.

Certitude is an organisation which provides support to people with learning disabilities and mental health support needs in south London. However, event organiser Sam Mason is keen to emphasise that this is not a ‘disability night’.

“Cut a Rug is about providing a platform for a variety of performers and audience members to come together and enjoy live music. Sometimes people we support play, but that happens organically. Our emphasis is on creating an event which is a better reflection of our communities as a whole. We’re aiming to host an evening that has moved beyond the idea of disability nights, because a lot of people we support neither want or need that; they just want to go to a gig and feel like they belong there.”

Cut a Rug nights have been hosted in other parts of London and have proved extremely popular with local communities and performance artists. More events are scheduled in the coming months and can be found at www.cutarug.org.uk.

Sue Mclaughlin from the Portico Gallery commented:

“We are passionate at the Gallery about community integration and making art and performance accessible to all. A wonderful, regular musical event with a vibrant yet relaxed atmosphere – Cut A Rug nights – do this. It’s providing quality music with an edge for everyone to enjoy, whoever you are and wherever you come from.”

Tickets for the Portico Gallery on May 13 are £5 in advance from www.cutarug.org.uk or £6 on the door. Doors open at 8pm and the event goes on until late. The Portico Gallery is at 23A Knights Hill, London, SE27 0HS, www.porticogallery.org.uk.

You can also follow @cutarugmusic on Twitter for the latest updates and photos!

World Down’s Syndrome Day: Becky and Kim

This year, World Down’s Syndrome Day is focusing on the friendships and communities that develop around people with Down’s Syndrome. Kim, House Manager talks about her experience of “My Friends, My Community” with her daughter Becky, who is 26 next month.

Becky is very sociable and lives in a house with 4 of her closest friends in Cornwall who are, in some respects, like family! When I visit Becky, I’m treated like one of the family by everyone, including staff – we all sit and have a chat and find out how things are going for us all since we last met.

Although life in Becky’s house can be a bit of a rollercoaster, everyone gets along very well.

As well as having fun together watching TV, talking (a lot), sharing meals and so on, they also argue about mundane stuff like missing ham, leggings and whose turn it is to clean!

My only concern is that she rarely meets friends outside of organised events because getting there is not easy and staff not always available – her brother does help though if it’s a party or something. I worry that in the future there will be more pulls on the support she gets and that the social aspect of her life will be deemed to be ‘less important’ – this has already happened to a certain degree with her not being able to attend dance classes in a neighbouring town because of transport/staff hours.

Her favourite trip is to the pub for Sunday Roast, either with one person or the entire household. You can’t walk through her town without someone saying ‘hello’ or waving to her. If she got in trouble or was unwell, someone would undoubtedly know her enough to help.

This community is key and so important, as far as I’m concerned, in helping keep Becky safe whilst ensuring she has as much independence as possible.

Recently, Becky was being harassed by a man in a pub (he thought he was being funny) and he was thrown out and barred by the bar man.
Becky’s home and her town are her community, and she loves it. It’s somewhere she feels safe.

As well as Kim and Becky below, you can also read about Marianne and her son Alex here, plus Anne and her son Luke here.

#WDSD16 #MyFriendsMyCommunity

 

World Down’s Syndrome Day: Luke and Anne

This year, World Down’s Syndrome Day is focusing on the friendships and communities that develop around people with Down’s Syndrome. Anne, Service Manager talks about her experience of “My Friends, My Community” with her son Luke, who is 19 years old.

Luke was in mainstream education until he was 16 and, whilst he was ably catered-for academically, the social void between him and his peers grew exponentially over the years. Particularly at secondary school, as everyone hit puberty and hormones started racing around, it seemed as though most of the pupils had other preoccupations. Add GCSEs into that mix and inclusion went right out the window. Luke found it easier to withdraw, to the extent that he was eating his lunch outside in the middle of winter.

Despite approaches to involve him, he preferred his own company.

Luke is now in a specialist sixth form provision and seems to be generally far happier and talks about his friends. He has developed patterns of social behaviour that he uses when meeting people in different situations. These will vary depending on who he is meeting – he will play the clown or sometimes become extremely religious and pontificate about life and death. He will greet everyone enthusiastically and even have a little chat but, as soon as he is able, he will retire to the comfort of his own company, seeking space where he can be alone. When visiting friends or relations, he will prepare a bag with a couple of books to take with him.

He has a girlfriend and yet, like many blokes, does little to make it work. She has moved far away and all the calls are incoming!

Luke lights up a room. On the occasions when he has been away, we miss him. He leaves a gap behind. As he struggles to make sense of the world around him and comes to terms with his disability and the complications that brings, he never stops trying and that, I think, is what brings such joy to the people around him.

For the moment, friendships are often a result of being in a specific social setting with others. The friendships don’t necessarily exist outside of that setting. Social and communal activities for people like our son will continue to need facilitation. They will continue needing to learn and develop as individuals, to develop understanding and empathy, compassion and depth. True friendship has all these things and I believe that our son, one day, will discover this for himself – with a little help along the way.

As well as Anne and Luke below, you can also read about Marianne and her son Alex here, plus Kim and her daughter Becky here.

#WDSD16 #MyFriendsMyCommunity

 

Certitude Satisfaction Survey 2015

The results are in…

We are delighted to share the results of Certitude’s 2015 Satisfaction Survey for people we support, their families and carers.

In total, 1,400 surveys were sent out with 505 responses received – this is a return rate of 36%, a great improvement on the 14%response rate to our last survey in 2012.

Many thanks to all those who responded and to everyone that supported people to take part! To find out what people told us read more here:  Certitude Satisfaction Survey 2015

Glitz, Glamour and Great People

The 2015 Michael Rosen Awards celebrates outstanding contributions across Certitude.

Over 200 people attended this year’s glittering Michael Rosen Awards, which took place in the stunning banqueting suite at Lord’s Cricket Ground, London on Wednesday 18th November.

The awards celebrate people within Certitude who “go the extra mile” to make a difference to people supported by the organisation. Nominees were joined by colleagues, people using Certitude’s services, families, carers, volunteers and fundraisers.

The Michael Rosen Awards were founded in 2010 by Sheila Rosen in memory of her late husband, who was Chair of Support for Living during 2007-2008.

After dinner, the real business of the evening began, as Aisling Duffy, CEO of Certitude, introduced the awards and described the important contribution staff have made to the growth and success of Certitude, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. She expressed her delight at the record-breaking 69 people nominated for the 2015 awards and her gratitude to Nim Design for donating a booklet which told every single one of their inspirational stories.

Emotions ran high as delighted, excited and, in some cases, very surprised individuals and teams stepped onto the sparkling stage to receive their runner-up and winners awards. For the five categories of Best Colleague, Best Volunteer, Making a Difference, The Change Maker and, the ultimate accolade, The Michael Rosen Award, all the winners enjoyed rapturous applause and loud cheers from the appreciative guests.

Once all the awards had been presented and the anticipation and nerves were gone, guests were able to spend the rest of the evening relaxing with friends and colleagues, drinking wine, chatting at the bar and dancing the night away at the disco.

The Awards

The Michael Rosen Award

Winner: 19 Haymill Respite Support Team Nominated by: Mike Bloodworth and Annabelle Lambourne

This team were described by Aisling as “exemplifying the vision and values of Certitude.” She congratulated them on how they worked in partnership with individuals and their families. The team had worked particularly hard for one individual over the last 12 months and their skill, commitment and attention to detail garnered high praise from Certitude managers as well external partners – including a case-coordinator and clinical psychologist who sent their best wishes via film.

 

Making a Difference

Winner: Mimosa Richards, Travel Buddy Co-ordinator at the Lewisham Cluster

Mimosa says she likes to be out and about, and that her approach is certainly appreciated by the people she supports to travel around London. Her nominee said that “regardless of the weather; rain, sun, snow or high wind, Mimosa has not missed an appointment with any of the people she supports.”

Runner up: Terry Burke, My Choice Worker at the Lambeth Cluster.

 

 

The Change Maker

Winner: Lorraine Jarman, Family Support Manager

Lorraine was recognised for working in the best interests of families in whatever way they need her, for “achieving many life enhancing changes for numerous families” and for providing a “much needed listening ear and emotional support”.

Runner up: Sandra Tomlinson, Peer Supporter Solidarity in a Crisis.

 

 

Best Colleague

Winner: David Moorcroft, Support Worker at Rosemont Rd

Described as “an empathetic, considerate, ethical and hard-working man,” David has worked for Certitude for over 20 years and seemed especially delighted to be recognised for his long-serving commitment.

Joint runner up: Mandeep Jhalli, Receptionist and Admin Assistant

Joint runner up: Kami Flora, Customer Finance Officer.

 

 

Best Volunteer

Winner: Peter Walker, volunteer and fundraiser

Peter is both a volunteer for Certitude and a fundraiser. He was congratulated for being a “dedicated, reliable and punctual volunteer” and for ‘taking on three sponsored bike rides which raised hundreds of pounds for Certitude.”

Runners up: Chris Albury and Anne Johnston, volunteers supporting Wandsworth families