Certitude/BRIT School community partnership award winner is announced

Last month we revealed the shortlist of the students who had been nominated for our first-ever ‘Making a Difference Award, presented to a student for their dedication and commitment to community involvement. We’re pleased to announce that a winner has been chosen!

At a ceremony held at the BRIT School on Thursday 9th July, Certitude, together with a parent of someone we have supported, presented the award to Keziah Horgan. Nadeem Islaam and Adam Filipe were highly commended Runners Up.

keziah winner 1Keziah really impressed the judges with her dedication to supporting others in her community. From organising a music event which raised over £1000 for ‘The Oxford Children’s Hospital’, to volunteering as a classroom assistant at ‘Springfield School’ for young people with special needs and disabilities, she showed a real commitment to community involvement. Keziah’s ambition is to set up her own community theatre school delivering drama therapy workshops.

Upon receiving the award, Keziah said: “It is amazing that an award which celebrates a group of young people such as the nominees for this award exists. The partnership The BRIT KizzySchool and Certitude have created is so worthwhile, and one I think is extremely important in order to build stronger communities using the arts. I hope to use this award and Certitude’s generous donation to continue my work within the community, and to encourage more people to work together to build a better society. Thank you once again to Certitude for this incredible recognition.”

Many congratulations to all the nominees, it was a tricky decision to make as all were truly inspirational in their dedication to supporting others and creating positive change within their communities.

“A place of his own”

Our Shared Lives carers open up their homes to people with learning disabilities or mental health needs, so that they can become an integral member of the family, share in the daily activities and be a part of the local community. Here, we share Michael’s story, a young man with a mild learning disability and autism, who lives with Trevor, a Certitude Shared Lives carer.

Following a difficult period in his life, and since moving in with Trevor, Michael has taken part in a wide range of activities, such as weekly football and ‘The Voice’ support group, where he is able to have his voice heard and meet new people.

Michael’s main goals were to find employment, training opportunities, socialise, manage his budgets and, ultimately, to have his own flat. We’re delighted to announce that earlier this year, after going through assessment processes, he moved in to his new flat!

Michael openly expresses how he has thoroughly enjoyed living with Trevor’s family, as well as taking part in birthday celebrations and meals out.

“Trevor and his family were always there for guidance and support whenever I needed them.”

He has also been the resident DJ at a number of Certitude club nights at our Cut a Rug events and has visited Remploy (an employment support service for people with disabilities) to find work and training opportunities.

The stability and support Michael experienced living with Trevor has enabled him to become a confident young man, as he continues to develop numerous life skills and becomes increasingly independent.

Michael is currently taking driving lessons and working towards a full driver’s license, and continues to have day support with Trevor, a relationship that is likely to flourish for many years to come. Trevor certainly agrees:

“I’m really pleased about the relationship Michael and I have built, and I’m so pleased he now has a place of his own.”

For more information on Shared Lives, visit their webpage or contact us on 020 8772 6222. You can also read through Lester’s story for a little more insight!

Amir runs to the beat!

Our Community Fundraiser, Sam, met with Amir to speak about signing up for ‘Run to the Beat’, a 10k run in Wembley this September. Amir is supported through our outreach service in Harrow.

Please consider sponsoring Amir at Run to the Beat on our fundraising page. We wish him good health and the very best of luck!

Hi Amir! So, have you done anything like this before?

No, but I used to run a lot at school. I walk loads too. I’m currently covering about 25 miles a week, and my support workers are very tired!

What other stuff do you enjoy doing, and what’s new in your life?

Swimming and rock climbing at the climbing centre under the Westway are both great fun. I also enjoy going to the gym, riding my bike and I’ve recently started online dating! I haven’t found anyone yet, but it’s still early days.

I’m also staying at my brother’s flat in Hatch End quite a lot. It’s great to feel a bit more independent, and my long term plan is to have a flat of my own.

Sounds fantastic! Now, let’s talk running. What’s your plan for training?

Great! I’m very excited about training at Roger Bannister’s running track in Harrow in July. I’m planning to run 4 to 5 times every week, and I’ve also got a treadmill I can use to make sure I’m keeping a steady pace.

Why did you decide to take on this challenge?

For me, it isn’t about losing weight; I already lost 4 stone while I was in Singapore. I’m taking on the challenge to raise money for Certitude, meet lots of new people and to get a medal!

“Get to know us.”

Stephanie is a confident, outgoing and bubbly young woman from Lambeth who is on a mission to experience as many new things as possible. She also has a learning disability and, during Learning Disability Awareness Week, wants Certitude to help dispel the misconceptions surrounding what the term means and how she can still live a full, rewarding and exciting life.

I like to keep busy. Life is far more exciting when I have lots of things on my plate, and I think it’s common for people to get too settled and make excuses for not having fun. So, here are some of the things I get up to in my day.

With the Active Lifestyle course run by My Breaks, I’ve been sailing, to the Velodrome and have given basketball a go. As well as this, the course has also got me paying attention to the food I eat and I’m now keen on staying healthy.

I sang last month with a choir at Weighting: Extraordinary Bodies, I’ve learnt how to play the ukulele on My Breaks’ World Music course and I frequently perform with the Brixton Harmonies, one of Certitude’s community choirs. We recently performed in Reading for the NCF Annual Conference, which was a fun experience, and we have to learn our new songs without the lyrics in front of us. This is really tough, but Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds is probably my favourite to sing.

We impressed the audience so much, that we had an invite to the NCF Managers’ Conference later this year in Oxford!

I have also attended college for qualifications in travel and tourism, catering and childcare. I’m now volunteering at a children’s nursery in Streatham for work experience before deciding what I want to do in my career. I love supervising the children, but mainly when the kids are actually behaving themselves!

I regularly go shopping, bowling or just exploring with some of the people I met at college. My family are also quite busy at the moment with my sister’s wedding in September, and we’ve picked out some beautiful plum bridesmaid dresses!

I’ve built lasting friendships during all of these courses and activities, and I don’t get nervous anymore when I’m on stage. I’m comfortable being the centre of attention and it gives me the chance to perform.

Finally, I’m a bit of a jet-setter! I’ve been to Canada, New Zealand, America as well as loads of other countries across Europe. I really enjoy being able to see the world with my family, as well as the team from My Breaks, and I had some incredibly fun moments on a recent trip to Malia, as you can imagine!

What I would say to people reading this is: please get to know us before deciding who we are and what we can do.

Just because I have a learning disability, it doesn’t mean I can’t study, work, or enjoy lots of different hobbies. People often make quick judgements about us, and don’t always look for the person inside or appreciate what we’re capable of.

Certitude and the BRIT School reveal shortlist for community partnership ‘Making a Difference’ Award

As part of our aim to build closer ties with local communities, we have been working with the renowned BRIT School on developing inclusive theatre workshop sessions for people we support and students at the School. Over the past year, we have also been developing a special award for students who make a positive contribution to their local community.

The Making a Difference Award’, launched in September last year, rewards those BRIT school students who go the extra mile to enable people in the local community to flourish, contribute and lead the life they want to lead. Candidates have been nominated by their teachers and peers, and the winner will receive a £500 prize award when the award is announced in July at a ceremony at the BRIT School.

Here below are the five short-listed candidates who have been chosen by The BRIT School, people we support, and staff within Certitude. We really felt inspired by their dedication to supporting others and creating positive change within their community. Best of luck to all of them!


Joe has been a long-standing member of Khronos, an all-male dance group, in which he has performed at the Central Christmas lights turn on in Croydon town centre last year. He conducted himself professionally at all times and demonstrated great enthusiasm in performing and sharing his skills with the audience.
Joe was also involved in the St Marks Community Project in which he taught and led workshops to younger boys to develop their confidence, skills and determination. He showed great rapport throughout the process, building positive relationships and being an outstanding role model. Due to the collaborative nature of this project he was able to build great camaraderie with his peers and younger performers, encouraging them to embrace and have courage in their performance.


When it comes to community work, Stella has a big heart and is always so inspirational in all projects. She exceeds in making personal relationships with the people she works with, creating a strong connection through us and the community. She works considerably hard in trying to make a difference to people’s lives and is always such a positive person to be around. She is an extremely caring individual and puts others before herself. She makes her workshop sessions enjoyable and worthwhile. She took the time to learn BSL (British Sign Language) to communicate efficiently within the class and community projects.


Within the first week of his time at the School, Nadeem gave his class a talk focused around what it was like to be deaf. 
 Nadeem also visits a participant who came to a few workshops at the school, and visits him at his Day Centre of Whitehorse Hub. The participant has Celebral Palsay and is also deaf and they have a strong connection and are able to communicate through gestures and sign language. Nadeem also helps at BRIT Kids every Saturday morning with music therapy. He has inspired his class by teaching them BSL (British Sign Language) with the final Community Arts Practice show “Want 2 Talk?” being the first ever show accessible to the deaf and hard of hearing.


Keziah started by becoming a theatre workshop assistant at her local theatre school ‘Dream Studios’ in Oxford. Her participation in community work progressed when she became a youth representative of a local charity ‘Hopeful Notes’ which performs at music events to raise money for local charities and individuals in need. Keziah independently organised a music event which raised over £1000 for ‘The Oxford Children’s Hospital’. Keziah has volunteered as a classroom assistant at ‘Springfield School’ for young people with special needs and disabilities. Keziah then launched her blog ‘12 Months of Giving’, in which she aims to draw focus to an organisation/individual in need each month for a year. Throughout this project she has delivered Anti-Bullying Workshops and raised money for The Alzheimer’s Society. Keziah’s ambition is to set up her own community theatre school delivering drama therapy workshops. Keziah wishes to continue to use her skills and passion for the arts for therapeutic and rehabilitation purposes, in order to improve the lives of others.


Adam has been involved in many beneficial community and charitable projects. His most recent project has been on behalf of ‘War Child’, a children in conflict charity. He organised a string of concerts to raise awareness and money for the charity. Adam has organised these events with a hope to raise fund for war-stricken children in countries such as Syria, Uganda, C.A.R and Iraq. He has so far raised £700 from ticket sales, excluding additional donations. As War Child liked this idea, Adam is recording the song “Bui Doi” (from Miss Saigon) – a song which explores the fact that we can do so much more than we do, and about getting children out of war zones. 
Adam does so much for charities and causes he cares about, he is a very passionate and selfless young man who vastly goes out of his way to help the less fortunate.

The lucky winner will be revealed in July – watch this space!

Our approach to supporting someone with epilepsy

In developing our approach to supporting people who have epilepsy, we have sought to ensure it is aligned with the principles set out in NICE clinical guidance on epilepsy. Our approach has been put together by people with epilepsy, their families, staff who support people with epilepsy and other individuals with knowledge in this area.

What does good support look like when supporting someone who has epilepsy?

  • Good support empowers the person and ensures their overall well-being.
  • Good support focuses on the ‘whole person’ not just a particular aspect or condition that they may have, starting with the person first.
  • Good support means understanding someone’s epilepsy, which can be complex and life threatening, so it’s critical that we understand what it means to them, and how best to support them in managing their epilepsy so it has a minimal impact on their day to day life and maximises their quality of life.

Everyone we support will have an individual support plan which sets out what they want to do and the support they need. We will ensure that what someone wants to do is considered in light of their epilepsy and any barriers are worked around as much as possible.

We recognise that living with epilepsy can have a big impact on someone’s social life and we work with the person to minimise this impact e.g. understanding the implications of medication and alcohol, flexibility in terms of when to take medication, flexibility / reasonable adjustments in support provision.

We aim for everyone we support to have a Health Action Plan to ensure their health needs are appropriately recognised, treated and monitored. We will further develop our Health Action Plans to ensure they include all of the necessary information about the person and how their epilepsy impacts on them.

Support teams receive on-going training around medication and health. They understand the significance of the medication people may take and any side effects from the medication. The support team recognise and respond proactively to any changes in a person’s well-being and routines. We work together with health professionals including GPs, community nurses and neurologists to ensure the use of medication is appropriate and responsive to the person’s epilepsy whilst maintaining a balance that enables them to lead an active and fulfilled live.

Environments are crucial in maintaining good health and well-being. We match people who have shared interests and needs, and maintain the highest of living standards and will ensure people have the right aids and adaptations and assistive technology to enable them to be as independent as possible. We use assistive technology to monitor and maintain people’s well-being regarding epilepsy and to enable them to be as independent as possible.

Working in partnership with families and others

We recognise that we are only one part of the support network that surrounds an individual, and each party plays an important role in ensuring the person is empowered and has a good quality of life. We work collaboratively with others in the best interests of the individual. This means being clear in our communication, open and honest, consistent, accessible and accountable. Building strong relationships with families based on trust is key when supporting someone with epilepsy. We use tools such as the family support plan, communication plan, and decision making agreement, to ensure we understand, respect and act on what is important to and for the family.


“I want to make progress, not just make do.”

During mental health awareness week, we are promoting an understanding of how Certitude supports people with mental health needs. We recognise the gifts, talents and resources people already have and work together to build confidence and self-esteem, ensuring support is tailored to reflect whatever people want to experience or achieve.

When it comes to gardening, Richard is extremely green-fingered, talented and knowledgeable. He also happens to have schizophrenia, is on the autistic spectrum and does not currently take medication. Following the passing of his father while studying at Cambridge University, he and his mother decided that Richard required more support on what he describes as both “a painful and fulfilling journey.” Here’s what Richard had to say.

Around the time of my father’s passing, there seemed to be a limited understanding of mental health needs, mine in particular. Both socially and emotionally, I would say there were huge deficits in what would be considered as a stable lifestyle and, as a result, my mother and I decided that I would benefit from further support.

Having been supported by Certitude now for over 20 years, I believe that the ongoing commitment to learning about and responding to my needs has been paramount to my development. They have helped me learn practical life skills, and introduced me to my new passion of horticultural gardening!

“What was imperative to me was that I kept my independence, but I also benefitted from the knowledge that a supportive presence was there should I need it.”

Gardening is a key demonstration of the stability I have been able to achieve, as it reflects my ability to organise, persevere and concentrate, which I certainly wouldn’t have been able to do psychologically before. I was also a complete computer-phobic, but I have managed to conquer and leap above this hurdle, too, with the support of my key workers and staff.

I can now say that I am proud of myself, I believe I have made my mother proud and that I have plenty to look forward to in the future. I feel as though I finally have inner-strength and the ability to cooperate with others.

“While I understand that there is still so much more room for progress, that’s exactly what I want to do: make progress, and not just make do.”

This is a landmark point in my life, and I would like to thank all of the people involved in the support I have received from Certitude, as well as my mother.

As an organisation, we work together with people and their families at their own pace to ensure we provide support in ways that work for them. We strive to be resourceful and find creative, personalised ways to work in partnership with people, through thick and thin. Find out more about the services we provide to support people with mental health needs.

Introducing Railton Road

Railton Road has opened its doors to visitors for the first time since its renovation project, allowing Certitude to further support people with mental health needs on their journey to recovery.

Our newly-renovated studio flats along Railton Road in Herne Hill (previously the Fanon Training Flats) will help to prevent individuals from moving into residential care and, instead, offer a supported living environment that provides people with the opportunity to develop vital living skills.

Through working with NDB Construction Ltd and HB Surveyors, the nine self-contained studio flats upstairs are bright, modern and renovated to a high standard. These will enable people stepping down from high-support environments to continue building their confidence within a supported living environment, and encourage recovery in preparation for independent living.

The ground floor has seen the further development of our Peer Support Hub, which will host a wide variety of events, workshops and activities to enhance peer support, while our new office spaces downstairs can now accommodate all of Certitude’s mental health community teams: Community Connecting, Peer Support, Solidarity in a Crisis, IPSA Railton Road staff and Beyond Prison, to name just a few.

During an open day in April, over 50 people were given the opportunity to tour the new flats, Peer Support Hub and office space. Visitors extended beyond staff members of Certitude, including clinical colleagues from SLaM, members of our new Alliance partners at Thames Reach, Lambeth Social Care and rehabilitation team, commissioners, Certitude board members, Mosaic Clubhouse, Resolving Chaos and various other partners.

Two people have already confirmed their tenancy, and will hopefully be moving into the flats very soon! We look forward to building lasting relationships and supporting the development of people living at Railton Road over the coming years.

Beyond Prison: updates and airwaves

The Beyond Prison project reflects Certitude’s belief that everyone has the right to a good life. This includes people who have served a prison sentence, who wish to integrate back into society and become a valued member of their community.

One aspect of Beyond Prison is its Peer Mentoring course, currently adopted by both HMP Pentonville and HMP Brixton, which provides various sessions such as:

– mental health wellbeing and recovery

– managing and exploring challenging situations

– appreciating difference and diversity

Our reception so far

With 25 and 19 men signed up in HMP Brixton and HMP Pentonville respectively, we have had an excellent reception up to this point and interest continues to grow within both prisons. A total of 15 Mentors have been created, 6 are actively mentoring others in custody and 25 more are on the waiting list!

Prison noticeboards have been plastered with our promotional material while Idris, Beyond Prison’s Team Leader, has worked tirelessly to increase recognition of the project’s various benefits for both inmates and the prison alike. As a result, we have been recognised as an organisation for inmate healthcare referral.

Kirat, one of Beyond Prison’s Outreach workers, recently delivered her first session on ‘mental health wellbeing and recovery’ which, seemingly, went very well:

“My first session was electrifying. I really enjoyed the engaged attitudes and curiosity of the inmates, and the debates they presented were just magical and incredibly stimulating.”

Idris on the airwaves

Idris took to the National Prison Radio airwaves last month with Luke (name changed to protect anonymity), who spoke brilliantly, with poise, grace and confidence, about his personal journey and the genuine impact Peer Mentoring had played in facilitating his rehabilitation.

Having spent a third of his life in the criminal justice system, the birth of Luke’s son became a major turning point and, since then, his life trajectory has changed significantly. This began with him becoming a Peer Mentor and, through the relationships he built with other inmates on the course, Luke was able to channel advice and support skills as a positive role model at HMP Brixton.

It was an incredibly moving discussion for everyone at the studio, with multiple listeners messaging in and feeling energised by his thought-provoking words.

At one session recently, special guest Bola Owoade, the Learning and Development Advisor at Certitude, was also welcomed. Here’s what he had to say:

“I was a bit apprehensive before the session, as I had never been into a prison before, but these proved to be unnecessary concerns. The guys were enthusiastic, willing to learn, and incredibly engaged, producing a number of rather passionate debates. It was clear that Beyond Prison had done a fantastic job at promoting their interest in Peer Mentoring, and I thoroughly look forward to taking part again in the future!”

What’s next?

Sandy, another of Beyond Prison’s Outreach workers, can see a bright future ahead for the project:

“My relationship with the inmates continues to progress; they always treat me with respect and want to learn. We all enjoy the atmosphere of the sessions, and they consistently remain positive about helping “others like them” once they finish the course.”

Beyond Prison will continue to develop and evolve this dynamic programme within both prisons, providing an increasing number of inmates with coaching and mentoring opportunities as well as real, sustainable stability upon their release.

New Peer Support Network for communities in Lambeth

people at our volunteering and peer support eventCertitude is committed to investing in resources that help local people and families who need mental health or learning disability support to build and maintain good lives, contributing actively as part of their local community.

In May, we are pleased to be launching a new Peer Support Network hub in Lambeth for local people, groups and organisations who want to access peer support, network with each other, connect with their local communities and share learning.

The Network has been developed in close collaboration with commissioners from NHS Lambeth CCG and Lambeth Council, and with our partners, colleagues and friends in the Lambeth Living Well Collaborative and the Integrated Personalised Support Alliance.

The hub will be based at 105-107 Railton Road, Brixton and open Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm.

The hub will offer:

  • Learning and development programmes
  • Career pathway opportunities
  • Social events and a space to meet others
  • Information and support in finding local hobbies and activities

For more information, please contact us on 020 7737 2888 or peernetworklambeth@certitude.org.uk