Race the Vitality 10k for Certitude

This 10k runs right through the heart of London. We’ll be with you every step of the way, from the start to the finishing line.

Sensory adventures at the Dominion

Here at Certitude, we use a variety of methods to support and connect with the people around us. We know that no two people are the same and we know that everyone’s needs are different. Sensory objects have proven to be an amazingly simple but effective method of stimulating people, thanks to their versatility and range of benefits.

We first began using them in the Dominion Centre after learning about their advantages through Joanna Grace’s work. The team at the Dominion Centre support people with profound and complex learning disabilities, carefully designing their sessions to support people to develop their motor skills and self-expression. Sensory objects have been massively successful in these sessions so far, and we look forward to working with them more.

What is a sensory object?

A small bag filled with cotton

A sensory object can be a very simple item that is utilised to stimulate different senses. The use of these sensory objects inactivities is known as a ‘sensory adventure’.  Joanna Grace, who is the inspiration for our use of this method, cites yeast extract as an excellent taste experience that she often uses. For us, we use objects as simple as a netted bag filled with cotton, which encourages people to pull the cotton through the gaps of the net, squeeze, throw and misshape the object, stimulating people’s touch senses from the different textures.

Why do we use sensory adventures?

Continuously stimulating our senses through sensory adventures builds nerve connections in the brain pathways over time. This helps with our understanding of the world and enables us to acquire new skills. They also support memory and concentration and a person’s ability and readiness to learn. Some studies show that an engagement in the sensory world can be good for our mental health.

How do we use our adventures?

Yellow perfumed bag of shredded paper

Andrea Ricci, from our Dominion Centre, describes the need for sensory stimulation as “vital for everyone’s physical and mental wellbeing. The success of each sensory experience depends on who it is for and what it is for.” Therefore, it is important that we understand the likes and dislikes of whoever we’re working with. At the Dominion Centre, our team support people with complex and varying disabilities who all benefit from differing approaches.

We use our yellow perfumed bag of shredded paper, containing various textured items, to create the message that amazing things can be hidden in boring places. The hope is that the person we support is actively engaged with the exercise and builds their confidence.

The aim of the plastic beans and water – shown in the photo to the right – is more about cause

Plastic beans and water

and effect. If the plastic is wet it will dissolve. This exercise is about cognition, the ‘now’ and ‘after’, and encourages decision making.

It has been so rewarding to see the effect these techniques have had on people’s mental and physical health, and we’re excited to continue with this work.

The Harbour mental health crisis café opens in Lewisham

A new mental health crisis café called ‘the Harbour’ opened its doors yesterday at University Hospital Lewisham.

The Harbour – a joint partnership between the hospital, Certitude and the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM) – will provide peer support to people experiencing a mental health crisis. The aim is to offer people who are feeling distressed someone to talk to in a relaxed, non-clinical setting.

Open from 2pm to 6am, seven days a week, the Harbour will be staffed by a range of experts, including people who have experienced mental health issues. “We are delighted to be involved in this great new partnership,” said Liz Durrant, Director of Mental Health for Certitude. “We believe in the power of peer support and the need for alternative places for people to get support when they are experiencing crisis.”

Former Love Island contestant Dr Alex George formally opened the café, adding a touch of glamour to its unveiling. “I’m really excited to be supporting this fantastic initiative for local people and to reduce the stigma around mental health,” said Dr Alex, who works at the hospital. “I see many people every day in A&E experiencing mental health needs, such as anxiety and depression. This café will be a safe place for them to come, take some time out, talk about their concerns and give them access to specialist support.”

SLaM Lewisham Service Director, Donna Hayward-Sussex added: “We are pleased to be supporting people in Lewisham, who are experiencing mental distress, to get the help and advice they need and are referred to this new crisis café service. Working in partnership with local health partners, as well as people who have experienced mental health problems in the past, those feeling vulnerable and no longer able to cope, will be seen by the right expert people, in the right place at the right time.”

We were also delighted to welcome Janet Daby, MP for Lewisham East, who spoke highly of the project and emphasised the need for more mental health services around London.

Can you help our fantastic marathon runner raise vital funds?

Mum of four, Jana Jilkova, is running the London Marathon this April for Certitude to help raise money for people with learning disabilities, autism and mental health support needs – but she needs your help.

A great end to a busy year for Treat Me Right!

What is Treat Me Right?

Over the last ten years, Certitude’s Treat Me Right! team has delivered training around learning disabilities and autism to thousands of doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals. The Treat Me Right! team believes that everyone who works in a profession where they might meet people with learning disabilities or autism should have awareness training delivered to them by people with ‘lived-experience’. Treat Me Right! training is co-delivered by people with learning disabilities and/or autism who are able to speak about their experience.

What did the Treat Me Right! team get up to in 2018?

2018 was a particularly busy year for the team. Throughout the year, Treat Me Right! has delivered:

  • Learning disability and autism awareness sessions to 1,000 individuals across the healthcare sector
  • Autism Champions training to 275 individuals working in health and social care
  • 4 drop-in sessions for the Champions to discuss their issues
  • 2 Champions study days with opportunities to learn from experts by experience and their families.
  • 40 new learning disability Champions have been trained in hospitals
  • The MP for Ealing Central and Acton and her team have been trained in learning disability awareness
  • Two of our Treat Me Right! trainers are Dimensions National Learning Disability and Autism Champions
  • The Treat Me Right! team worked with local specialist schools to provide employment training and health advocacy training sessions for transition age children
  • 33 discharge coordinators were trained in issues specific to people with learning disability and autism and discharge
  • Over 200 hospital staff were provided information and offered drop-in support during Learning Disability Week

Recognition from Parliament!

In recognition for their hard work, Treat Me Right! was nominated by the North West London CCG for the NHS70 Parliamentary Awards earlier this year. They were also cited as an example of best practice in the field by MP Tulip Siddiq in a parliamentary debate.

Rounding off their busy year, the team hosted a drop-In session at the Houses of Parliament in November with Dimensions and Beyond Words. The session explored ways to improve health equality for people with learning disabilities and autism. Some of the findings included:

  • 98% of GPs say they would benefit from a short training session, led by people with learning disabilities or autism, on how to meet the individual needs of patients
  • Two thirds of GPs say they have received less than a day’s training on how to meet the needs of patients with learning disabilities or autism
  • 60% of people with a learning disability said their GP did not make reasonable adjustments for them
  • Three quarters of GPs would like additional training on reasonable adjustments

There’s a lot more work to be done but we’re confident that our Treat Me Right! team is up to the challenge.

Great news from Haymill Respite

Everyone needs a break from time to time – especially carers. Our respite services around London provide overnight stays for people with learning disabilities and autism. We make sure that our guests feel happy and relaxed, so carers can have peace of mind while they take some time for themselves.

Haymill Respite in Greenford is one of our many respite facilities. Following a recent renovation, the service now offers brand new furnished bedrooms, multiple new kitchens, living rooms with smart TVs and a large open garden. There’s also a house vehicle, allowing the people we support to go out and take part in fun activities away from the service.

Recent Expansion

Haymill Respite has recently become registered to support people from 16 years onwards. This is a first for Certitude and it means even more people can have access to the service. Haymill Respite has just welcomed two young people aged 16 and 18.

For the 16-year-old, the team at Haymill developed a bespoke support plan based on his needs and preferences, working with his parents and college. The 16-year-old is now much more settled into the service having recently undertaken his first overnight stay. Our team are now looking for more ways to help stimulate the young man and make his time at Haymill even better.

The 18-year-old had a longer transition period, but he’s now beginning to develop an excellent relationship with our staff. He even saw a few familiar faces during his visit! After a few visits at home and at his college, the young man was ready to stay overnight at Haymill. He is now settled into the service and the team are working hard to make sure he gets the best out of Haymill Respite.

It’s been a joy to find that this extension of our service at Haymill Respite is working so well. To find out more about our respite services, click here.

Certitude receives grant to fund life-changing technology

We were delighted today to receive a grant of £2,500 from MAXIMUS UK, a global company that currently provides more than 3,500 staff within the UK who deliver disability and health support and services to more than 1 million people each year.

The grant will go towards purchasing new pieces of assistive technology, including Google Home devices, alternative communication applications and iPads. This equipment will enable people to have more control, choice and independence in their day to day lives.

Seema Katrina Sharma, our Corporate Partnerships Manager, who accepted the grant on behalf of Certitude today has said about the contribution and the impact it will make:

“For many people who are not mobile and use sign language, sounds and hand gestures to communicate with friends, family and staff, assistive technology is a game-changer. It gives people back control of their lives and offers choices and opportunities which might not otherwise be possible. We are very grateful to MAXIMUS Foundation UK for a grant this size, as we have seen first-hand the impact assistive technology has on people we support.”

Di Briggs, Acting Chair for MAXIMUS Foundation UK, said:

“We are incredibly proud to be supporting Certitude and the work they do. At MAXIMUS UK, transformational health and wellness technology is a core part of our business, so we understand just how important assistive technology is to people with complex needs.”

The MAXIMUS Foundation UK has donated almost £200,000 in grants to charities and community groups over the last three years. We are incredibly grateful for their support.

Certitude joins the Agenda Alliance

We are delighted to join the Agenda Alliance. Agenda is a UK-based charity which campaigns for women and girls at risk of abuse, poverty, poor mental health, addiction and homelessness.

At Certitude, we support the vision of a society where women and girls can fulfil their potential and live their lives free from inequality, poverty and violence. As an organisation supporting women with mental health, learning disability and autism support needs, we stand for the rights of women at risk of harm. We support women to live the life they want; to have autonomy, hopes and a great life.

As we develop our trauma informed approach through our female-led support and our work on gender-Informed pathways for women experiencing multiple needs, we look forward to sharing and learning with our Agenda Alliance colleagues. Most importantly, we are keen to enable the women we work with to share their insights and experiences to contribute to the work of Agenda and co-create positive change.

Christmas Carol Concert brings festive cheer to Bromley

Three of Certitude’s community choirs joined together for an evening of Christmas carols at Bromley Parish Church this week.

Ably managed by choir masters Edward and Theo, the singers filled the church with festive cheer and put a spring in everybody’s step in time for Christmas. They were joined by local accapella group Just Voices.

This was the third Christmas Carol Concert for our community choirs, which are based in Ealing, Brixton and Bromley. Money raised from the concert will go towards supporting people with learning disabilities and mental health support needs in London.

Thank you to everyone who attended. We hope you have a very Merry Christmas.

Christmas Carol Concert in Bromley
The crowds gathered to hear our community choirs.


Christmas pop-up shop raises over £1,000

Festive gifts hand-crafted by people with learning disabilities were snapped up at the Glades Shopping Centre in Bromley.

Our day centres at Astley, Cotmandene and Kentwood offer support and activities for people in Bromley who have learning disabilities and autism. Over the last few weeks, people with learning disabilities at our Bromley day centres have been hard at work crafting festive gifts including Christmas cards, wrapping paper and baubles.

The seasonal wares were sold at a pop-up shop in the busy Glades Shopping Centre in Bromley earlier this month. The gifts raised a magnificent £1,154, which will go towards helping improve Certitude’s services in Bromley.

Christmas gifts designed by people with learning disabilities
A selection of the festive gifts designed by people with learning disabilities

“Our pop up shop has been a incredible platform for people we support, showcasing their talents through the amazing pieces we had on sale. This partnership is such a wonderful opportunity for us to focus on people’s contribution to their community, over their diagnosis or the support they need; we think people are more than that, and the amazing funds we’ve raised say that the people of Bromley agree. What a lovely message, especially at this time of year!” Sam Mason, Community Fundraiser.

Our festive pop-up shop is part of a year-long partnership with the Glades Shopping Centre, who chose Certitude as their 2018/19 Charity of the Year. Our staff have been training Glades staff in Mental Health First Aid and Learning Disability Awareness as well as ensuring that their facilities are accessible.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who bought gift items from the shop over the past few weeks.  Your support is greatly appreciated. We wish everyone a happy and enjoyable Christmas and New Year.