Conversations change lives

“It’s time to talk because if you say something, you realise how many people around you haven’t, and needed to…”

One in four people will experience a mental health problem every year. Right now a friend, colleague or loved one could be going through their own challenges.

Talking about mental health doesn’t need to be difficult, but too many people with mental health needs feel unable to. Time to Talk Day is about giving people the chance to talk and to listen about mental health.

Throughout the day, we will be sharing quotes from people across Certitude who have had their own experiences with mental health, some examples of these are below.

Every conversation, every text, every share means more people are reached and more lives have possibly been changed. To get involved, tweet us with your experiences @Certitude and include the hashtag #TimetoTalk.

If you want to talk to someone about your mental health, you can also contact our team at Solidarity in a Crisis on 0300 123 1922. Our Peer Supporters have their own experiences of facing and overcoming crisis and are there to listen when people need to be heard.

By opening up to mental health, you can make a real difference.

“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.