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


Richmond announcement

Certitude is delighted to announce that it has been chosen by the London Borough of Richmond to provide a range of supported living and residential support for people with learning disabilities living in Richmond.

The contract will commence early in 2016 and includes some long standing services as well a number of new services designed specifically to support young people with complex needs as they move into adulthood.

Cllr David Marlow, Richmond Council Cabinet Member for Adult Services, said:

“Helping the most vulnerable adults in our community must be at the heart of everything we do. Supported living helps people with a learning disability to live independently. The services they receive help them with every day skills, personal care, travel, training or indeed employment.

“It enables them to embrace independence by supporting them to be able to make their own choices and decisions about their lives.”

Certitude Chief Executive, Aisling Duffy says:

“We are so pleased to be able to extend our support to Richmond. We very much look forward to getting to know the people we will be supporting, their families, staff and wider support networks and working together with Richmond Borough Council to ensure people have support which is right for them. At Certitude we believe that everyone has the right to a good life. Understandably, people want different things – it is our job to listen, find out what people want and then work together to make it happen.”

Dignity through peer support

This year, World Mental Health Day will raise awareness around what can be done to ensure that people with mental health support needs are able to live with dignity.

Estimations currently show that that only a quarter of people with mental health support needs in the UK seek and receive ongoing treatment, leaving the majority of people to grapple with uncertainty and to rely on the informal support of family and friends.

We want to challenge the barriers people face when asking for help by promoting the value of peer support.

Peer support enables people with mental health lived experience the opportunity to provide support and empathy to others.

We work in partnership with local organisations, funders, commissioners, CCGs and the Lambeth Living Well Collaborative to deliver a variety of peer support services.

Solidarity in a Crisis provides a 7-day, out-of-hours support line to people who are experiencing a mental health crisis. Our team has expanded since 2012 when it opened, and currently consists of 14 paid Peer Supporters covering Lambeth, Lewisham and Southwark.

They have all completed a wide range of training courses, including Mental Health First Aid and Applied Suicide Intervention Skills, and receive ongoing training and development support. There are many wonderful individual stories of how peer supporters have seen their own recovery and well-being improve as well as how they have helped others. We have a truly astounding team with passion and commitment to promote recovery.

Rosetie, one of our Peer Supporters, speaks about her experiences in the video below.

Earlier this year, we were also delighted to launch our new Peer Support Network hub in Railton Road, Brixton to help grow peer support in the borough. By enabling people to build reciprocal relationships, network through social media and attend various community groups, we hope to inspire better connections and effective community support. It offers a variety of activities, including:

  • Learning and development programmes
  • Career pathway opportunities
  • Social events and a space to meet others
  • Information and support in finding local hobbies and activities
  • Opportunities to connect through social media and online tools, such as Connect & Do.

Beyond Prison adopts a holistic and person-centred approach to encapsulate what peer mentoring means, improving the mental wellbeing of prisoners, and reducing the likelihood of re-offending upon release into the local community, by focusing on strengths and assets. For some of the most marginalised people in our community, these experiences positively enhance the lives of their peers as well as having a significant impact upon their own journey.

The Work Pathways team supports a range of people with mental health support needs and learning disabilities to access education, training and employment opportunities. Their ETE (employment, training and education) trainee programme offers career opportunities to people with lived experience of mental health support that includes supporting others into paid employment.

We could go on and on about the various other services that have also been seen to effectively utilise peer support, but the fact of the matter is that it works. By working with the people we support, we can better understand how to help them, as well as many others in a far more dignified, understanding manner.

Topman fundraising

This summer, Topman helped us with a spot of gardening. We think that their interview with Sam, our Community Fundraiser highlights the multiple rewards and benefits of working with us.

If you would also like to get involved through fundraising or volunteering, or would consider becoming a corporate partner, please contact We look forward to hearing from you!

Tell us about why Topman gets involved with organisations like Certitude.

At Topman, we’re really keen to use our size and influence to help out the communities that we operate in. Our people tell us that they love opportunities to give back and have fun with their workmates and this is one of the ways we can provide that type of experience.

We know there are lots of places you can volunteer on projects like this, so we’re always touched when a team selects us. Why did you pick us?

The big pull factor for an organisation like Certitude is the good they do for people with learning disabilities and mental health support needs. We had a list of really worthwhile projects to choose from, but the human factor was the cause that clinched it. It was important for all involved that it felt like a worthy and meaningful experience.

There are a lot of misconceptions about mental health services and the people that use them, so what were you guys expecting? Were you nervous?

I think we were more nervous about the manual labour we had ahead of us! Overall, it was important for us to be helping people and it was lovely to get a sense of how important the project was for them.

We love the time-lapse video, found here. Were there any particular highlights for you?

The team had so much fun working together to complete the project that it’s difficult to pick a highlight; the best part was probably the sense of achievement we felt when looking at the ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures, and knowing that ‘I helped to do that’. Also watching Del, (the MD’s PA) getting a little carried away with pruning had a few people LOLing!

For the people we support, having a beautiful garden is a huge deal. Did you get a sense of the impact of your work while you were there?

It was incredibly apparent by the gratitude received from the charity and the residents that our work meant a great deal. We hope that the changes we’ve made last a long time and can be enjoyed for years to come.

Did you get to meet any of the people we support? If you did, how did it go?

Yes, we met quite a few people! Some were really chatty, others opted to watch from afar. Some of the guys were also kind enough to make us a few sarnies to help celebrate our achievement!

The garden was transformed; it must have been really satisfying to see what you’d achieved. How did you feel afterwards?

It was fantastic, we were all buzzing and felt much closer as a team after completing it together. All in all, it was bags of fun!

Anything you want to add?

This experience has really inspired us to do things like this more often. We’re looking into a programme focused on how we can give more back to our communities through our employees and help organisations like Certitude in the future.

Support in Bromley

Certitude is delighted to announce that it has been chosen by the London Borough of Bromley to provide a range of supported living, respite and day support to people with learning disabilities, their families and carers in Bromley.

Commenting on the occasion, Aisling Duffy, Certitude Chief Executive said:

“We are so pleased to be able to extend the support we currently provide in Bromley. We are committed to working with people, their families, staff and wider support networks to ensure they have support which is right for them.

Some of our key priorities going forward are based on what we have already learnt from people living and working in Bromley: that people want to have somewhere to go during the day to meet friends, people want to feel comfortable and safe and be able to do the things they enjoy as well as learn new things.

Understandably, people want different things – it is our job to listen, find out what people want and then work together to make it happen.”

The contract commences October 2015.

Perivale Eco Festival

We want to bring our local Perivale community together and help it flourish. We’re also keen to celebrate our birthday in as many exciting ways as possible, so what better way to achieve both than with a festival!


We’re delighted to invite you all to a day out in Perivale this August 29th from 12pm-4pm for a collaborative Eco Festival, hosted by Certitude, Everyone Active, Ealing Mencap and 4th Perivale Scouts. This event has been joint funded by the Heathrow Community Fund and Certitude’s Community Involvement Fund.

Why should you come along? Well, you’ll have all this to look forward to for starters:

  • market stalls with upcycling and freecycling
  • food, refreshments and entertainment
  • information about our local ecology

We are also launching our exciting Crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for a new local community garden and outdoor gym.

We plan to transform the wasteland alongside Stockdove Way (to be leased from Thames Water) into a quiet spot for families to relax somewhere we can promote physical fitness in the local community.

There will be bug hotel- and bird box-making sessions, a music stage in the meadow on Stockdove Way, and you’ll find market stalls set up around the spots on this map.

For more information, you can visit our Facebook event or Parties and Events page. To contribute to the event or to arrange a market stall, contact our Service Manager, Mike via

To find out more about how we’re celebrating our 25th birthday, visit our 25 ‘things’ for 25 years page. Alternatively, you can contact our Community Fundraiser, Sam via if you have any ideas or events of your own that you would like to suggest! We look forward to hearing from you, and to seeing you on 29th August!

Investing in Leadership

Certitude needs leaders at every level of the organisation, to support our development and deliver services in more effective, creative and person-centred ways as true partners in local communities.

More than ever, we require lots of sound management to lead, inspire, motivate and empower our employees and volunteers, to mobilise our shared vision and build innovative capabilities for the future.

To this end, we have been investing in two programmes: Leading at Certitude and Succeeding at Certitude.

Leading at Certitude

Every manager within Certitude is being developed into a ‘Leader’ as part of a 2 year integrated programme; this includes group learning sessions, on-the-job activities, guided project groups, self-insight through tools like MBTI and 360 feedback, action learning sets and access to bespoke online resources. We have received a tremendous amount of positive feedback about the very practical and applicable differences it has made for managers, who have a new set of skills and confidence to support them in becoming the leader they need to be.

A programme for people wanting to go for promoted roles will also be starting later in the year.

Succeeding at Certitude

This nine month programme focuses on how we ensure the highest levels of professional performance in Certitude and support people to succeed in their roles. The manager programme focuses on getting things right with new employees from the moment they are appointed, throughout probation and further into their career; this includes getting the best from people and how to approach a situation effectively when things go wrong. The programme for all staff focuses on what great performance looks like, what’s needed to move forward, how managers can provide support and reaffirms our open, honest culture through regular feedback.

We’re very excited about these changes, what has already been achieved and the successes ahead of us, and we look forward to sharing these stories as the year progresses.

Certitude recognised as an investor in people

Certitude is delighted to announce that it has been awarded the Investors in People Bronze Standard, demonstrating their commitment to realising the potential of their staff.

Investors in People is the UK’s leading accreditation for business improvement through people management, and provides a wealth of resources for businesses to innovate, improve and grow, with a focus on good people making great business.

Paul Devoy, Head of Investors in People, said: “Achieving the Investors in People Bronze standard is something that any organisation should be truly proud of. It is the sign of a company which is truly committed to good people management practice and we’d like to congratulate Certitude on their achievement.”

Commenting on the award, Aisling Duffy, Chief Executive said: “I am thrilled to confirm that Certitude has been awarded Investor in People Bronze accreditation. This means that we have not only maintained our previous IIP status but progressed to Bronze. Only 20% of IIP accredited organisations have a metallic award so this is a great achievement. A very special thank you to the colleagues from across all roles in Certitude who openly shared their experience of Certitude. We really appreciate your time as well as your honest and thoughtful contributions.”