Dr Tania Mathias MP visits us in Richmond

On Thursday 8th December, Dr Tania Mathias MP visited Cross Street and The Lodge, popping in for a mince pie and a cup of tea.

Cross Street (Hampton Hill) and The Lodge (Whitton) provide supported living to people with learning disabilities and autism.

Aisling Duffy and Eleri Ebenezer, Chair of the Certitude Board, talked to Dr Mathias about staff’s commitment to supporting people to live the best life they can. Dr Mathias – who is an NHS doctor herself – was -particularly interested in understanding how people can be supported to be active in the local community.

Staff at The Lodge prepared a short video which demonstrated the progress one person has made since moving in, in February. Dr Mathias was clearly moved by the video and impressed by the changes which had taken place.

Aisling Duffy commented: “It was lovely to have a visit from a local MP who was so genuinely interested in what we are doing. The teams at Cross Street and The Lodge are really inspiring and we are delighted with the progress people have made there. People with learning disabilities have much to contribute and benefit from living within their local communities. However, there is a lot more we can all do to ensure adults with learning disabilities are better understood and are able to live a more fulfilling life, connected with the wider community.”

Singing in the festive spirit!

Down by the river in Brentford, near the bridge, building sites, box junctions and the houseboats with their wonderful wood fires, stands a fascinating monument to our industrial past.

The London Museum of Water and Steam tells the story of a place with a pivotal role in the development of our city. Until as recently as 1944, this is one of only three sites in the capital used to pump water into the homes of Londoners. Why 1944? The allied command realised that if the Luftwaffe caught on, the pumping station would move rapidly up their to-do list and the Metropolitan Water Board wisely found an alternative.

It was here on 15th December, among the enormous steam engines, that our community choirs chose to host their first ever Christmas Carol Concert. The crisp night air and an unmistakable festive spark soon had the foyer buzzing with members of the public, singers, Ajmer Grewal, Mayor of Hounslow l and local MPs Ruth Cadbury for Brentford and Isleworth and recently elected Sarah Olney for Richmond Park.

Our choirs are made up of people with a passion for music who, once a week, come together for rehearsals in Bromley, Brixton and Ealing. It’s a wonderful opportunity for people to make new friends, learn new skills and take pride in the collective thrill of a new song learned, a difficult middle eight or key change mastered. Plates of mince pies were passed around, Christmas plans toasted and soon it was time to take our seats in the main room. The choir, up lit in festive green and set against a backdrop of the old, traditional machinery, launched into Silent Night, voices soaring under high ceilings that served the music beautifully. Expertly accompanied by Choirmasters Theo and Edward, our singers played a fabulous set of Christmas classics, radiating festive energy and an infectious passion for music, before bowing to rapturous applause from a beaming audience.

A truly special evening in a glorious setting. Our sincere thanks goes out to our choirs, Choirmasters Edward Henderson and Theo Jackson and the wonderful people at the London Museum of Water and Steam, none of this would have been possible without their incredible work.

We wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

Double win at the 3rd Sector Care Awards!

The 3rd Sector Care Awards took place on Wednesday 7th December at the London Marriot Hotel Grosvenor Square to celebrate and showcase the innovation and excellence of the not-for-profit care sector.

Certitude were shortlisted as finalists for two awards – the Creative Arts Award and as part of the Lambeth Integrated Personalised Support Alliance (IPSA) for the Collaboration Award. The awards were presented by Dame Esther Ranzten with fantastic performances by Kerry Darby and Dance Unity.

Congratulations to our Community Development Team for winning the Creative Arts Award. Jake, Vaia and Andy have worked incredibly hard this year to increase the variety of creative art projects available to people with learning disabilities, autism and mental health support needs, building a regular following of people for workshops and events such as the Cut a Rug nights, life drawing, community choirs and gallery visits. The judging panel were impressed by the work of the team in breaking down barriers between people we support and their local communities.

Just as the excitement was settling down, the IPSA team : Certitude, Thames Reach, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, Lambeth Clinical Commissioning Group and Lambeth Council were announced as the winners for the Collaboration Award for their innovative work providing support to people with complex mental health support needs in Lambeth. Through this work, families have been reconnected and people are recovering and finding new purpose to their lives.

This is an amazing achievement and very well deserved by both teams. Well done to all the nominees and winners!

What is involvement?

Our ambition is to work with people to make the most of their skills and experience, enabling them to become involved not only within Certitude but also as active citizens in their local communities.

Involvement is also an important theme that runs through many public sector organisations. Councils, health providers and other Government authorities are keen to find out what people think about services they use. People should be involved in the design, delivery and review of services to ensure that they are happy with their support. Through understanding people’s journey through services, organisations are able to review how things could work better. In the current economic climate, with continuing downward pressure on social care funding, it is even more vital to ensure that funding is being used effectively to deliver what people really want.

Why is involvement important?

By involvement, we mean any activity whereby people can influence thinking, service design and provision and decision-making at all levels. People we support and their families are best placed to tell us how we are doing and what we could improve. It is everyone’s right to be able to live the life they want and it is our aim to support people to do so. Particularly where people have not received good support, it is important that their feedback and complaints are heard and that they can work with organisations to ensure that future support is good, not just for them but for others too.

Involvement does not stop at Certitude. You can get involved in many interesting projects in your area and put your skills and experience to good use. Here are a few ideas of other projects you could get involved in. Certitude always seek the views of people we support and their families and carers. We seek feedback through annual satisfaction surveys, person-centred reviews, Quality Checkers, local groups, forums and coffee mornings and a robust Compliments, Comments And Complaints Policy. We use this feedback to help shape our support to best meet the needs of each person

Your local GP Surgery
As of April this year, all GP surgeries are required to set up a Patient Participation Group (PPG). These groups give local residents a voice and share their views on how their local surgery operates.

Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs)
If you enjoy being part of your local PPG then perhaps you will want to progress to working with your local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) who are responsible for deciding how funding is allocated when it comes to buying health care services in your area. Simply look up your local CCG online and look for their ‘involvement’ or ‘participation’ section.

NHS England
Become an NHS England Curator. This three month pilot enables one person to share their experiences with the NHS through the NHS England Twitter account.

National Institute of Health Research (NIHR)
Become a reviewer, Panel member, suggest a research question. You get to see all the latest research in health care ideas and help decide on which ones get put forward.

Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCPsych)
Be part of the College Centre for Quality Improvement (CCQI) as someone who uses support or a carer representative. There are various groups for mental health and also a group for learning disabilities.

Other ways of getting involved include joining meeting or groups run by your local Council. These can range from consultation workshops regarding local services to more involved steering groups. These are often advertised in your local paper or letters from the Council. Alternatively, being in London, you may want to get involved in the London Assembly and help shape the future of London.

The Metropolitan Police also has various ways people can be involved such as becoming a Ward Panel member.

As you may be aware, many services are inspected by the Care Quality Commission (CQC). You can help the CQC in their work by becoming an ‘Expert by Experience’ and using your knowledge to help drive up standards!


Lilu Wheeler

Business Development Partner

John Keaveny Speaks at Learning Disability Today

John Keaveny, Learning Disability Awareness Training Coordinator with Treat Me Right!, was recently asked to speak at the Learning Disability Today Conference in London on Tuesday 29th November. Here, he shares his experiences from the day and why he wanted to be involved.

“I was invited to speak about Treat Me Right! alongside Sue Turner, who is the Learning Disability Lead for the National Development Team for Inclusion. Helen came along too as the new Treat Me Right! Manager. The talk was about ‘Improving Hospital Experiences’ for people with learning disabilities. Sue talked about the legal and national reasonable adjustments that should be made to support people in hospital. Helen talked about the work Treat Me Right! has done. I talked about my experience and my work in setting up and running Treat Me Right!. I also gave some of my top tips for getting good support in hospital.

We headed off to the national conference on a bit of a cold day, as you can see. I had already been asked to speak about how I felt about speaking at a national conference by Learning Disability Today and was on the front page of their website on the day – you can read the article here.


When we arrived, we had a look around the exhibition then were shown to the very exclusive speakers lounge for lunch. I took the opportunity to brush up on my slides. After lunch, we attended a talk about Mental Health before it was time for our presentation, which went really well.

There were some great questions from the audience. People were concerned about coming out of hospital and not having the right support. Treat Me Right! is looking at this and will provide guidance on good discharge planning for when people leave hospital.

Another concern that was raised was hospitals identifying people with learning disabilities not wanting to be resuscitated when in hospital, which was being done without their permission. We said Treat Me Right! would look at why this is happening and what can be done to stop it.

There was also a question about what should be in health action plans and who should be involved in these. We talked about the importance of health action plans in setting out the reasonable adjustments people need to access health services. These need to be specific to the person.

I really liked speaking at the conference. I think that it’s important to have lots of people with learning disabilities speaking at events like this. It’s good for me to share my experience and to talk for myself instead of having people speaking about me. It made me proud to tell people from all over Britain about how to support people with learning disabilities better in hospital and show them what we have done in Ealing.”

Celebrating success at the Michael Rosen Awards 2016

What a night it was at the Michael Rosen Awards on Thursday 24th November 2016! Celebrating the success and commitment of our staff and volunteers is important to us, without each and every one of whom we wouldn’t be where we are today.

Each year the nominations have got bigger and better and this year was no different. The evening kicked off with a wonderful performance from our 3 Certitude choirs who set the tone with a mix of popular classics and even some Christmas jingles to get us into the festive spirit! Food from around the globe was served and everyone enjoyed mixing and chatting with people from across the organisation, people supported by Certitude, their families and many others. It certainly was a lively group!

On to the awards themselves…

As always it was very difficult to pick the winners and with nearly 70 nominations there were some very difficult decisions to be made.

Congratulations to everyone who was nominated – here are our winners…

Best Colleague Runner Up – Sham Burug

Best Colleague Winner – Merline Gabriel

Change Maker Runner Up – Rathmell Drive

Change Maker Winner – Michaela Cordice

Best Volunteer Runner Up – Steve Penfold, Franc Thurgood and Jan Harris

Best Volunteer Winner – Joint winners Caroline Eaton and Natalie Chillington

Making a Difference Runner Up – Loy White, Mental Health

Making a Difference Winner – Grange Close, Learning Disabilities

The Michael Rosen Award Winner 2016 – The IPSA Team

Congratulations again to everyone, thank you for making it a night to remember!

Getting into the festive spirit!

Looking for something to get you in the mood for the festive season? Why not come along to our Christmas Carol Concert on Thursday 15th December at The London Museum of Water and Steam. 

Our three community choirs are joining together for an evening of carols and popular classics in a wonderful venue. Proceeds from the concert will go towards funding for Certitude’s support with people with learning disabilities and mental health support needs in Hounslow, Richmond and Ealing. We hope to see you there!

Carol Concert New 2


The VODG Social Value Toolkit Launch

Today, VODG (Voluntary Organisations Disability Group) launched their Social Value Toolkit, a practical resource that supports the delivery of social value in the commissioning of social care.

The VODG Social Value Toolkit promotes increased cooperation between social care commissioners and providers. The guidance has been created in response to the fact that while there are resources to support commissioners to implement the Social Value Act, less guidance exists for social care providers.

The new toolkit reflects an approach to commissioning which creates maximum value for money from public spending by realising additional benefits from providers – at no extra cost to the public purse.

Harnessing social value is an essential route to tackling inequalities. VODG’s toolkit guides social care providers on how to demonstrate the added value that not-for-profit organisations deliver.

VODG chief executive Dr Rhidian Hughes says:

“We need to use existing legislation to lever better outcomes through the commissioning of services. We have found that while there is a wealth of guidance for commissioners on the implementation of the Social Value Act there is far less for providers. The VODG Social Value Toolkit provides a new resource to assist voluntary organisations to better articulate their added value. It offers practical examples of how the sector is making a huge difference to the lives of disabled people and the communities in which they live.”

Kathleen Isaac, Head of Business Development adds:

“Certitude is committed to involving and supporting the development of local communities in our work. On a daily basis we see the value this adds to the lives of people we support and we are delighted to have been involved in the development of the VODG Social Value Toolkit.”

Read the full report here.

Peer Power

peer powerEnjoy the latest edition of the Peer Power Newsletter and the stories they share, written by peers in Lambeth, helping to grow Peer Support in the community.

If you would like to get involved and feel you have a story to contribute, please contact the Lambeth Peer Support Network on peernetworklambeth@certitude.org.uk.

Delivering better outcomes through collaborative working

AislingFor the past 18 months, Certitude has been part of Lambeth’s Integrated Personalised Support Alliance (IPSA) providing support to enable people with long term mental health issues to live more independently within the community.

Together with Thames Reach, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM), Lambeth Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Lambeth Council, we have been working to deliver on three outcomes that were identified by people as most important to them:

1. I want to recover and stay well
2. I want to make my own choices
3. I want to participate on an equal footing in daily life.

IPSA’s One Year report explains the original objectives for the alliance, our progress against them and some learning to date. Some of the key headlines include:

• A 60% reduction in admission rates to inpatient rehabilitation wards in Lambeth
• A 67% reduction rate in people going into residential care and an increase in 30% of people leaving residential care
• On course to deliver circa 20% saving by end of year 2

As Chair of the Alliance Leadership Team, I have been struck by some of the key principles that have driven the success of the Alliance to date:

• The work of the alliance has undoubtedly been driven by a shared core belief that integrated and personalised support delivers better outcomes at a lower cost.
• This belief has in turn driven the desire to invest in and strengthen relationships. Everyone brings different skills and assets – the strength comes as these are blended together. This has resulted in a new found respect between staff, clinicians, peers, individuals and families.
• Sticking with and not giving up on people has involved working together to share risk and is enabling new positive narratives about people using our support.
• Thinking differently, being innovative and using resources creatively including assistive technology has been essential to achieving outcomes.

Over the past year, I have seen people’s lives change for the better as they start to make their own choices; to participate equally and to recover and feel well. I have seen leaders emerge throughout, supported by the commitment of senior leaders from each alliance partner.

It is a privilege chairing the Alliance Leadership Team where senior managers come together with the common purpose to get the best outcomes for people. We have more to do and the challenges are great but together we can lead change, find solutions and improve lives.


Aisling Duffy

Chief Executive