Winning support

Teams and individuals from Certitude have been receiving lots of awards this month.

We are very proud that both James Morris and John Keaveny have been awarded places on Learning Disability and Autism Leadership List. This is a new award which recognises people with autism and learning disabilities who are working to make things better. James won his place for the work he does advocating on behalf of people with autism and John for the learning disability awareness training he provides with Treat Me Right! In the next couple of weeks’ we’ll be publishing blogs on our website from James and John about the changes they would most like to see happen.

Congratulations also go to our Solidarity in a Crisis team who were highly commended in the Suicide Prevention Category at the Positive Practice in Mental Health Awards. Certitude were also jointly awarded the ‘Third Sector Working in Partnership with the NHS Award’ with Navigo and Mental Health Matters.

Last but not least, the support team at Princes Road in Richmond are London Regional Finalists of the Great British Care Awards. The awards take place on November 10 so we’ll post an update to let you know how they get on.

Taking a ride on the Magic Carpet

Earlier this month, MP for Ealing Southall, Virendra Sharma, took a ride on a ‘Magic Carpet’, explored sensory boxes and met with some of the local people with learning disabilities who are supported at The Dominion Centre, Southall.

Mr Sharma was invited to experience it’s latest innovation – a ‘Magic Carpet’. Day Opportunities Manager Andrea Ricci explains: “The Magic Carpet is a machine which projects images onto the floor. When you interact with them it responds with lights or sounds. For the people we support, who have profound and multiple learning disabilities, it is stimulating and fun to use.”

As well as exploring the sensory tools available at the centre, Virendra Sharma MP learned about the total and sensory communication techniques which are used by Certitude support workers at the centre. This approach enables people with complex learning disabilities – who find it hard to communicate – to have more choice and control over their own lives.

Mr Sharma commented: “I am delighted to witness for myself how state of the art technologies and pioneering communication techniques are being used by Certitude to support people with profound and multiple learning disabilities in Southall. It’s good to see people enjoying themselves and inspiring to meet staff who are passionate about what they do.  It’s also very encouraging to know that such wonderful support is available here in my constituency. With my previous experience of working with people with learning disabilities, it’s wonderful to see improvements in support by the use of assistive technology.”

Mr Sharma was accompanied on his visit by Certitude’s Chair of Trustees, Eleri Ebenezer and CEO Aisling Duffy, who appreciated the opportunity to showcase the positive work of their organisation.

Ms Ebenezer said: “At Certitude we measure our success on the happiness and richness of the lives people lead. The ‘Magic Carpet’ at The Dominion Centre has been instrumental in helping achieve this and we are grateful to Mr Sharma for coming to see first-hand some of our amazing work.”

In addition to a providing a wide range of sensory and communication activities, Certitude also offers group sessions in story telling, art and design, musical therapy, massage and sports and games at The Dominion Centre.

Certitude joins Equally Well UK

On 13 September 2018 Certitude joined the launch of a new nationwide collaborative, Equally Well UK and signed the historic ‘Charter for Equal Health’.

The Charter for Equal Health offers a vision for improved physical health support for anyone living in the UK with a significant mental ill-health. It sets out how organisations working nationally and locally will tackle one of the biggest inequalities in health anywhere in the UK.

Today, people living with mental ill-health, such as schizophrenia, have a life expectancy up to 20 years shorter than average. Equally Well UK will bring together organisations that have a part to play in reducing this inequality to take concerted action to achieve significant and sustained change.

At Certitude, we believe that everyone has the right to a good life. We focus our support on helping people to define what a good life looks like to them and helping them to achieve it – this includes supporting people to improve and maintain their physical wellbeing.

People we support have told us they want to learn to cook healthy meals, want help exercising and want support around their substance use. We have established a physical wellbeing steering group with an initial focus on:

  • Developing materials, details of online and local help for people we support and staff to use. This includes monthly health briefings for people to increase knowledge on a range of health conditions.
  • Developing a harm minimisation approach across our mental health services
  • Developing new opportunities for people to learn healthy cooking skills
  • Increasing people’s access to and confidence in using a range of exercise opportunities.
  • Defining our role in advocating for people’s physical wellbeing, access to healthcare and support.

Liz Durrant, Director of Mental Health at Certitude said:

At Certitude we believe everyone has the right to a good life and that means a life they live to a grand old age, filled with hope, opportunities and good mental and physical health. We are not comfortable with the current truth that having a mental health need puts you at risk of dying 15 – 20 years younger due to physical illness. We want people to feel able to access physical health support and to not have to rely on harmful coping mechanisms in response to their distress. Ultimately, we must create a system where we stop accepting people’s premature mortality as inevitable”.

Liz attended the launch on 13 September with Karen Simpson, Delivery Lead for Transforming Care at Certitude. Karen said of the launch:

It is exciting to be part of a shared commitment alongside the range of professionals who were also at the launch event – the collective desire to address these health inequalities through the Equally Well UK network came through loud and clear. Through our involvement in Equally Well UK, we will develop the work of Certitude’s Health & Wellbeing Steering Group.

Certitude is proud to be part of the growing membership of Equally Well UK and encourage our peers to sign the Charter for Equal Health to work together for a better, healthier future for people experiencing mental ill-health.

I’ll be there for you…

Each year, more than 800,000 people take their lives across the world.

More than 6,000 people take their life in the UK and Republic of Ireland every year – an average of 18 a day.

A crucial point could be reaching out to people who are going through a difficult time. Certitude’s Solidarity in a Crisis supports people in distress by providing out-of-hours emotional support over the phone and in person. The service is run by Peer Supporters who have their own experience of facing and overcoming crisis.

Here, Solidarity in a Crisis share what you can do if you encounter someone with suicidal intentions, these guidelines could help you save a life while you wait for the emergency services to arrive…

Try to keep the person calm until expert emergency services arrive

It is important for them to be listened to – so be present and listen

Never give advice or judge someone on why they might feel like this

Would they like a glass of water, cup of tea or a blanket?

Ask open questions like what would keep them going? Do they have any plans? And when were they last happy? This may help someone picture the kind of life they would find rewarding

There are lots of people you can talk to about your own mental health if you are unable to talk to people around you. Some of these include:

Solidarity in a Crisis (Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham)

0300 123 1922 or text on 0778 975 6081 or 0778 975 6083

The Samaritans

116 123

Rethink Mental Illness

0300 5000 927


0300 123 3393

Your GP

You can also join a free training course with the Zero Suicide Alliance, who are committed to suicide prevention. You will learn how to identify when someone is showing signs of suicidal thoughts or behaviour, talk about it with them in a supportive manner and help them identify the services or support that might help them.

Here at Certitude we understand the value of sharing experiences and life stories and we support people to build trusting, lasting relationships with people they can turn to for support. Follow us on Twitter or Facebook today to hear more about how talking about mental health has helped people across Certitude.

Ola Barcelona!

Gr8 support can mean many things to different people – encouraging, supporting, advocating, respectful to name a few.

Umal, Deputy Manager at Certitude’s Richmond service embodies these in every way. Here, she tells us about supporting Moshiur on his first holiday abroad…

“Moshiur has autism and communicates with few words. He was very enthusiastic and excited about his first holiday abroad in Barcelona. Moshiur’s family were very supportive but naturally were worried as Moshiur had never travelled abroad before. However, careful planning by the staff support team took away their concerns.

For the flight, staff spoke with the airline and explained possible scenarios of behaviour which may prove difficult, discussing appropriate ways to deal with situations should they arise. With the air crew being very helpful and accommodating through this process.

In the days running up to the holiday, a social story was made with Moshiur, so he could better understand what was going to happen. This included videos and photos of airplanes.

Once in Barcelona Moshiur wanted to visit the stadium which is home to one of the biggest football clubs in the world; Barcelona play their home matches there and Moshiur was very happy and excited visiting the players’ room where the likes of Messi get changed!  Moshiur was amazed with this experience as football has been his life long passion .

Other activities enjoyed was a trip to the Ferrari Theme Park  – cars are another love of Moshiur’s – and with careful planning this visit was very successful, with Moshiur being able to enjoy joining in many of the events held there.

Moshiur loved to spend time on the beach and he loved the sand and sea. Even though he has a phobia of dogs, and this has stopped him doing outdoor activities, Moshiur managed to enjoy the whole holiday.  For Moshiur to be outside and cope with being around dogs, was a huge step for him.”

Moshiur overcame many obstacles, such as experiencing long travel journeys and crowded areas. New, unfamiliar environments and changes in routine with new activities can be difficult for him, but because of the skills, dedication and commitment of his team the trip was a huge success and has paved the way for new opportunities and experiences in the future.

Certitude is a proud member of the Gr8 Support Movement, a network of support workers, team leaders and managers who share best practice and constantly aim to inspire people to ‘be the best they can be’.

Gr8 Support: James is always achieving

James is a young man with Asperger’s who has turned his love of mascots into providing entertainment for children’s parties and entertaining at charity events.

Here, Mark Wallis, Certitude Manager, shares what James’ staff team have learnt from James and how they are supporting him to achieve his dreams.

“When James first shared his hobby of dressing as mascots, this was a completely new interest for his support team, but James has been great at educating us all on the importance of such a role.

At children’s parties, James (as the mascot) is the central part of the entertainment, dancing and signing autographs for people and making sure that everyone there is having fun. To date, James has now been a mascot at football and rugby events, charity events, local community festivals and sponsored walks.

Recently, James was also involved in designing a unique ‘Mango and Orange Zest Sour’ flavoured craft beer for Certitude in partnership with Gipsy Hill Brewery as part of a wider campaign called ‘Hops Not Hate’. Hops Not hate seeks to highlight issues of hate crime directed at people with learning disabilities and autism, opening up discussions around better social integration for everyone in local communities to combat loneliness and isolation. The new beer, now available to order here, has a picture of James on the front of the can and he is over the moon about this huge achievement.

James’ support team are proud to be supporting him in a person-centred way, learning from him and ensuring he is achieving what he wants in life. Watching him grow in confidence and developing entertainment skills along the way is the added bonus!”

Certitude is a proud member of the Gr8 Support Movement, a network of support workers, team leaders and managers who share best practice and constantly aim to inspire people to ‘be the best they can be’.

Schools out for Summer!

It was an inspiring last day of term in Bromley last week, when Newstead Wood School hosted their Commemoration Day celebrations on Friday 20th July.

House captains from across the school pulled together to organise the school’s annual celebration of its establishment in 1957, raising money for Certitude in the process.

Under sunny Kent skies, students ran stalls selling crafts, food and drink and running selfie booths. There was also a number of live performances, including dance routines and a live band from the maths department, all paying homage to the theme of the day, 90’s music and fashion.

A highlight of the event saw Nick Fawcitt, Certitude Support Worker, running an inclusive tai-chi session for the students. Nick, alongside four ladies supported by Certitude, ran a 15 minute session, while close to a thousand students copied their every move – a magnificent sight and the perfect showcase of the talents of our wonderful staff and people we support.

Nick said “I was extremely moved after our tai-chi demo at Newstead Wood School. The demo went very well and the ladies were nervous but absolutely amazing. They all went out of their comfort zone, giving them a chance to show others that they are more than a disability. I was ever so proud of them and how they dedicated themselves to wanting to learn the movements and postures.

I was really touched by the pupils at Newstead Wood School and how they all followed us in the demo, wanting to be part of it.  Once the demo was over, one of the ladies was very emotional and said that she couldn’t believe how much she had achieved by performing in front of everyone – they should all be so proud of themselves for all they have achieved.”

The event raised over £300 to support our work and our heartfelt thanks goes out to all at Newstead Wood School. We can’t wait to see what next year brings!

Good thymes in Ealing

Our day centre, The ARC in Ealing, West London has a lovely garden including raised vegetable beds and a poly tunnel where we grow tomatoes and courgettes.

Yesterday, we had a visit from Jessica from online fruit and veg retailer Abel & Cole, who came to watch a cookery session which used fresh ingredients from the weekly fruit and veg boxes Abel & Cole regularly donate to us.

A big thank you to Jessica and the Abel & Cole team for their support.

Please visit here if you would like get involved in supporting Certitude, or to make a donation.

Summer Fete at Astley Centre in Bromley

Certitude, working in partnership with the Friends of Astley Fundraising Group, will be holding a Summer Fete at the Astley Day Centre, 39 Magpie Hall Lane, Bromley BR2 8ED on Saturday 28th July, 1-4pm.

The event will have something for everyone – from stalls and games to tai chi exercise and disco! And who can forget about a quintessential Summer BBQ along with tea and cake!

Astley Day Centre is run by Certitude, and offers support and activities for people in the local community who have learning disabilities and autism. Money raised from the event will be used to fund extra resources and activities.

Sue Burgess from Certitude, says:

“The Summer Fete is always great fun! An opportunity for us to invite the local community to Astley and see the wonderful things that happen here.

“We want everyone to have a great day, visit our stalls and support us in raising funds for Assistive Technology and Sensory Equipment for people we support.

“We hope to see many of you there!”

Good luck at the National Learning Disabilities and Autism Awards!

We are delighted to announce that we have three finalists at the National Learning Disabilities and Autism Awards, which will be taking place at ICC Birmingham this evening.

Firstly, we are pleased to announce that the Brentside and IST team are shortlisted for the Positive Behaviour Support Award for their work with Zara*. Since Certitude began supporting Zara in 2017, her team with positive behaviour support have built stronger communication and relationships using Makaton, Intensive Interaction and iPad apps such as Proloquo2Go. Zara now has many more choices in life, doing things previously thought impossible and is looking forward to her first ever holiday.

Oscar has been nominated for the Newcomer Award. Oscar joined Certitude in 2017 and has proven to be a valued team member. He works to ensure the best possible outcomes for people and does everything possible to ensure people have the best opportunities and achieve their potential. His commitment is commendable for someone so new to social care.

Lastly, we have the Harrow Staff Support Team who have been working in partnership with Harrow School. Certitude partnered Harrow Boys School in 2017, who have collaborated with the Harrow team each week since then. The boys’ youthful enthusiasm always lifts people’s mood and the noise, chaos and mess at the cooking sessions are definitely the highlight to Monday’s, and a firm favourite with people we support.

Good luck to all the finalists, you are already winners in our eyes.

*name has been changed to protect identity