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.

Festive food for thought – making time to talk about mental health

‘Food for Thought’ is the focus of our 2018 Christmas video which we have produced in partnership with organic food company, Abel and Cole.

The film shows Ashley, who we support in Ealing, his mum and Certitude staff members Nisha Gharu and Sam Mason baking some fabulously festive mince pies. The idea behind Food for Thought is to create a cookery club for people with learning disabilities to come together and cook in an environment where they feel comfortable.

We have found that cooking from scratch in a relaxed setting provides an excellent opportunity to talk about mental health issues. Sessions take place across 10 weeks and are overseen by our expert support workers and a trained therapist. At the end of each course, everyone is given a pack of 10 healthy new recipes and a list of tailored techniques they can use to support themselves and safeguard their mental health.

After our recent Food for Thought pilot attendees told us they had experienced better overall wellbeing and felt more able to cope with difficult emotions independently. Because of this success we would like to be able to support more people with learning disabilities to explore their mental health and build their resilience, all while learning how to cook delicious, healthy meals.

To do this we need your support because Food for Thought is only possible because of income from fundraising. Our fundraised income means we can change lives through imaginative projects like this and we’re so grateful for all the support we get from generous individuals and organisations all year round.

If you would like to support our Food for Thought programme and support the mental health of people like Ashley, you can donate here

Enjoy the video and please share it on social media.

Certitude Goes Gold!

Certitude has been awarded ‘gold’ accreditation against the Investors in People Standard, demonstrating their commitment to realising the potential of their people.

Investors in People is the international standard for people management, defining what it takes to lead, support and manage people effectively to achieve sustainable results. Underpinning the Standard is the Investors in People framework, reflecting the latest workplace trends, essential skills and effective structures required to outperform in any industry. Working with clients across the globe, Investors in People enables organisations to benchmark against the best in the business on an international scale.

Paul Devoy, Head of Investors in People, said: “We’d like to congratulate Certitude, Investors in People accreditation is the sign of a great employer, and an organisation committed to achieving success by realising the potential of their people. Certitude should be extremely proud of their achievement.”

Commenting on the award, Cheryl Newsome, Director of Human Resources said: “We are delighted with the findings of our recent Investor in People reassessment and that the hard work of colleagues across the organisation has been recognised with our GOLD status! Certitude will continue to work with staff to ensure they are supported, developed and engaged to deliver excellent services for the people we support.”

John and James are Learning Disability and Autism Leaders

We are so proud that James Morris and John Keaveny have been announced as Learning Disability and Autism Leaders in a list officially published in the Guardian this week.

James and John were chosen from 600 entries for the first national listing of its kind. It celebrates people determined to bring about social change. The Leadership List was published in the Guardian and online this week and each leader is profiled in detail; James for his work around advocacy, policy and media and John for his work in work and education.

The listing describes James’ contribution and how he “has come far in his own life, from being viewed as challenging to educating and supporting others. He is making a real difference and is a worthy winner of a place on the Leaders List.”  James was involved in the development of our Hops Not Hate Beer.

John is praised for his work with Treat Me Right!, “training thousands of medical staff in learning disability and autism awareness, creating on-ward champions at hospitals across North West London.” It goes on to describe that “not only does John provide this training, but he also speaks about his work at local and national events, to ensure that the message is spread far and wide.”



As part of their ongoing mission to influence change for people with autism and learning disabilities, John and James have both written blogs which are available to read here.

Read about James on the official Leadership List

Read about John on the official Leadership List


View the full Leadership List


Read John and James’ blogs



Awards to celebrate our inspiring people

On November 22nd we recognised the commitment, passion, skills and enthusiasm of our staff, peer supporters and volunteers at our annual Michael Rosen Awards. This was our eighth awards ceremony and the biggest yet.

CEO Aisling Duffy hosted the awards ceremony which took place at the Hurlingham Club in west London

Over 80 nominations were received for people and teams in five categories – Best Team, Best Volunteer, Inspiring Leader, Best Colleague and Transforming Lives. Nominees from all of these categories were eligible for the overall Michael Rosen Award which this year was awarded to the Treat Me Right! team. The awards are made possible from a donation by Sheila Rosen, the widow of Michael Rosen, a previous Chair of Support of Living which later became part of Certitude.

Lulzim Osaj was thrilled to receive the award for the Best Volunteer which was presented by Sanjay Shah, Certitude Director of Finance, Housing and IT, and Marianne Selby Boothroyd, Certitude Director of Development.
The Southwark Cluster were presented with the award for Best Team by Philippa Laughton, Certitude Board member and Nicholas Campbell-Watts, Certitude Strategic Director of Operations

Nearly 200 staff, people supported by Certitude, families and volunteers came together for drinks and dinner at the Hurlingham Club in London followed by an awards ceremony hosted by Chief Executive Aisling Duffy. Current Certitude Board members were partnered up with members of the Leadership Team to present the awards to the soundtrack of The Greatest Showman.

Melissa Layton and Alexandra Del Toro were joint winners in the Inspiring Leader category. (L-R) Aisling Duffy, Certitude CEO, Kate James, Certitude Board Member, Liz Durrant, Certitude Director of Mental Health Support, Melissa Layton, James Morris and Alexandra Del Toro.
Sue Burgess received the award for Best Colleague. (L-R) Aisling Duffy, Certitude CEO, Sue Burgess, Cheryl Newsome, Certitude Director of Human Resources and Dianne Greyson, Certitude Board member.

Aisling thanked everyone nominated for their “drive and determination to help people achieve what they want from life” and their “imagination and unconditional affection for the people we support”. Sheila Rosen paid tribute to her husband’s commitment to Certitude and described her own eagerness to begin volunteering for Certitude now that she had retired.

Kim Aldridge was a popular winner for the Transforming Lives Award for her work supporting families. (L-R) Mary Schumm, Director of Learning Disability Services, Professor Sally Glen, Certitude Board member, Kim Aldridge and Aisling Duffy, Certitude CEO.

All the winners were presented with their certificates and after the presentations were over, everyone joined in with the celebrations by dancing the night away to DJ Paul O’Connor’s fantastic disco.

The Treat Me Right! team picked up the prestigious Michael Rosen Award. Now in its 10th year, the TMR project offers learning disability and autism awareness training delivered by people with learning disabilities and autism.

The Results

Best Team

Winner – Southwark Cluster

Runner up – Payroll team

Best Volunteer

Winner – Lulzim Osaj

Runner up – Lucy Sangster

Inspiring Leader

Joint winners – Melissa Layton and Alexandra del Toro

Best Colleague

Winner – Sue Burgess

Runner up – Anthony Olofinnika

Transforming Lives

Winner – Kim Aldridge

Runner up – Roger Bogaert

Michael Rosen Award

Treat Me Right!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

Twas the month before Christmas and all through the house, nothing was stirring, except our community choirs who’ve got a big concert coming up and they’re very busy rehearsing!

It’s our third ever Christmas Carol Concert and we’re cranking it up a notch and are being supported by Just Voices! This year promises to raise the frosty bar even higher than last year! Join us at the utterly gorgeous and fully accessible Bromley Parish Church on Tuesday 18th December from 7pm for a fabulous night of Christmas carols, wine, mince pies and seasonal schmoozing.

Tickets are £5.50 on the door, or £5 in advance from See Tickets.

Book in advance to avoid disappointment, we’re a big deal now and space is limited. Tell, nay, bring your friends.

For more information or if you have any questions please contact Sam Mason at sam.mason@certitude.org.uk.

Treat Me Right! cited as best practice in Parliamentary debate

Tulip Siddiq, MP for Hampstead and Kilburn, mentioned Treat Me Right! in a parliamentary debate on avoidable deaths of people with autism and/or learning disabilities which took place recently (October 2018).

The debate was prompted by an e-petition by Paula McGowan, the mother of a patient called Oliver who is autistic and died in circumstances that his family believes to be avoidable. The petition calls for the introduction of mandatory training for health professionals to ensure staff fully understand autism and learning disabilities, to reduce avoidable injury and death.

Treat Me Right! provides learning disability and autism awareness training which is co-delivered by people with learning disabilities and/or autism who are able to talk directly about their experience. Ms Siddiq is aware of Certitude’s work in her constituency after Treat Me Right! was nominated by the North West London CCG for the NHS70 Parliamentary Awards earlier this year.

Certitude provided information for Ms Siddiq’s speech including statistics which demonstrate the positive impact of Treat Me Right! She held up the work of Treat Me Right! in Brent as an example of best practice in this field.

The government has responded to the debate by agreeing: “We want all staff to receive the support, training and professional development they need to support people with learning disabilities and autism, in line with employers’ existing responsibilities.”

Health and Social Care Minister Caroline Dineage accepted the case for change and said that the government would consult on the details, and look at legislation in the next year. As part of this consultation process, Treat Me Right! trainers and staff will be part of a team hosting a MP’s Drop-In session at the Houses of Parliament. The event in November is being undertaken in partnership with Dimensions and Books beyond Words and will give MPs the chance to learn more about the difference peer-led learning disability and autism training can make.

You can watch a video extract Tulip’s speech here (full debate can be found on Parliament TV as well).