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Archive for the ‘Community organisations’ Category

Creative Practitioners hosting free Wellbeing Event in Leeds

I have been hearing a lot about the new Creative Practitioners at Aire Court lately; I harangued Zellany to write a blog post about the new role and about a drop in session on the 22nd of June……..

Hi all

I’ve not written a blog piece before, so I am hoping you will bear with me and not get too bored before the end.

It was about writing a piece to explain my new role and who I am! I have recently gained employment with LYPFT in February this year as a Creative Practitioner. There are two of us based with the South CMHT in Leeds….so we are a rare breed indeed!

Before I get started! I would like to draw your attention a FREE drop-in wellbeing event that is taken place on the 22nd June at BITMO Gate, Belle Isle. It runs from 10am until 12.30pm.


The event is open to the community as a whole and professionals alike. The idea is to try to create independence and empower users of secondary services to link up with community based organisations. This is as part of a sustainable discharge and recovery from Community Mental Health Team. It will be a drop-in, so can come and go as people wish. The idea is to promote positive mental wellbeing and hopefully help reduce stigma which may exist in the locality. It will also support in promoting social inclusion, enabling people to take an active role in maintaining their mental health and general wellbeing. A map can be found here.

The wellbeing event is open to the whole community in the South of the City. The event is being organised by my colleague, Minja and me. The organisations who have so far agreed to participate are:

It will also be an opportunity for you to meet Minja and me!

I terms of my background, I have worked as statutory social worker for the past 6 years based within a Community Mental Health Team in Bradford. I can honestly say that I have occasionally felt like a square peg trying to fit in to a round hole. This has at times created friction and tension between my own value base with the needs and agenda of the service I had worked for.

My values have always been about putting the client/service user at the centre of care planning, in terms of collaborative working to advocate in obtaining an individualised bespoke support package. I have my feet firmly planted in the social model rather than the medical model of mental health; our mental health is shaped by our experiences and our environments.

Austere times are making it much harder for services to meet people’s needs. There are reduced budgets and smaller teams of people, this has forced the whole system to look at its processes and having to work leaner and smarter. Organisations have to justify their service delivery through outcome measures. I feel that these measures do not at times reflect the outcomes users of services visualise for themselves.

Recovery is an individual journey with personal and individual goals. These goals come from our own set of values and experiences. So when I saw the role of Creative Practitioners advertised, I spoke with my now two enthusiastic Managers and I was sold by their visualisation and their recovery oriented and social model views with regards to mental health and wellbeing; it fits with my own values! The role is something that my colleague and I can develop and mould overtime. Hopefully we will have a positive impact on service delivery and new ways of working……what an opportunity!

In essence the Creative Practitioners role is about supporting people to move on from secondary mental health services in terms of a sustainable discharge. We are working in a creative and innovative manner, developing relationships with Care Coordinators and their clients. We have also been building links in with the voluntary sector services. I feel it is about looking at ways of building on a person’s resilience and strengths, to take control of their own recovery through empowerment.

Within a short space of time, my colleague and I have developed links with agencies and organisations across Leeds. These agencies are providing various levels of community support and activities that promote health and wellbeing. We have sought views from users of services through Leeds Involving People. We have attended local events that support the process of shaping how mental health care and wellbeing is delivered within the City. The landscape is being transformed and the service user movement’s voice certainly has a place and a big impact on how things will change. Leeds has a variety of ways of involving people to participate and get their voice heard such as through Leeds Involving People, Service User Network, Leeds Healthwatch and Patient Advice Liaise Service as well as through various voluntary sector services e.g. Mind’s Peers Support and Touchstone.

We Creative Practitioners have developed group work to facilitate a step down approach from services. It is hoped that those attending will recognise their strengths and build on their resilience. They will be supported to develop a wellbeing and crisis plan. This is hoped it will empower those being discharged to become independent of secondary services and feel able to take control of their recovery; mental health services are only part of that journey to recovery.

What I have found so far with regard to working for LYPFT, is that the team is supportive, progressive and forward thinking. The CMHT management team have been willing to listen to and run with ideas; this is certainly not in a maverick way. Despite such austere times, I feel it is an exciting moment to be involved in mental health services. I feel there is a decrease in the divide; users of services are able to get involved and have their say in shaping how services will be delivered, this is the spirit of true co-production. I am certainly feeling hopeful!

If you require further information regarding the wellbeing event or queries about our role, then please do not hesitate to contact me Zellany.neal@nhs.net or my colleague minja.lintunen@nhs.net



New Mental Health Recovery Group

Here, Elaine Wilkes, Carers Education Worker writes about a new group to support people in Leeds:

I am really excited this morning along with my colleague Lokhi Roy!  We both work as part of Leeds Carers and stated a new group last night based on Mental Health Recovery!

recovery header

The group runs at Vale Circles once every two weeks from 5.30pm-7pm.  It is based on a group that has been running at Lovell Park for five years. Click here for the dates and venue details.

So why the excitement?  Well I experience depression and this is a group where anyone can come along if they have an interest in mental recovery.  This is:

  • Workers
  • People who have mental health problems
  • Carers
  • Anyone who is a combination of all the above

The group focuses on:

  • Hope that recovery can happen
  • Looking at things in a positive way
  • Knowing we experience negative things but looking at the type of things we do to overcome these

My dad died last March and I went to the Lovell Park  group  the week after his funeral.  I was ok but still at times tearful.  A member of the group mentioned railways (which my Dad loved) and I could feel myself becoming tearful.  I did not feel the need to hide the tears but talked about being upset by his death.  This led to other people talking about how they had overcome difficult things including deaths of people close to them.  I went away from that group feeling supported and more positive.  We also talked about techniques that can help all us cope at tough times

My hope for the Vale Circles Recovery Group is that we can develop a safe place where anyone feels comfortable to talk about things that are emotional and hard.  For me the key thing is we don’t stop there but focus on hope, how we can overcome pain and techniques to help all us of do this.

I don’t think it matters whether someone is a service user, carer or worker or all of these.  What matters to me is that we are people  and we all have things that are hard.  This group is about overcoming these things but also have fun and humour along the way.

If you would like further information about these sessions or to book yourself a place please contact 0113 85 54445 and ask for Elaine Wilkes or Lokhi Roy.

Beyond Existing, support group for men & women who have been abused

beyond existingBeyond Existing: Therapeutic Support Groups for Adults Who Have Been Abused (www.beyondexisting.org.uk)

Beyond Existing currently have vacancies in the Women’s Group. The next meeting is this coming Saturday 7th November 2015 between 10.00 and 12.00. We now meet in LEEDS CITY CENTRE, but we can provide/fund transport if someone has a genuine difficulty in getting to the venue.

A new Men’s Group will start in January 2016. Referrals are being taken now; the number of places is limited.

Click here for a leaflet with more information;   to make a referral please ring Jacki Pritchard on 0114 270 1782.



Additional support at Dial House, Leeds, for people in crisis

Fiona Venner announces extra opening hours for Dial House in Leeds:

I am delighted to inform you that from Wednesday 1st April, thanks to increased NHS funding, Dial House will be open on Wednesday nights from 6pm to 2am as well as Friday to Monday nights.

Dial hse

Dial House is our flagship service, founded in 1999, and continues to provide a place of sanctuary and support to people in acute distress which is an alternative to psychiatric hospitalisation and statutory services.

Our second crisis house, Dial House @ Touchstone, opened in October 2013 to provide crisis support on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6-11pm for people from BME groups, who did not traditionally access Dial House.

From 1st April, we will have a house open every night of the year, which was the vision of our founders, a group of campaigning mental health service users, who worked tirelessly to bring the organisation into existence in the 1990s.

We also have the Connect helpline, open every night of the year from 6-10.30pm and a programme of group work. From April 2015, this will comprise a social and support group, two Lesbian Gay, Bisexual and Transgender groups, a specific Transgender group and a Coping with Crisis group.

If you would like leaflets about any or all of our services, please email michelle.noad@lslcs.org.uk or telephone 0113 260 9328.



Recovery Centre at LYPFT – its here!

In this post, Charlotte and the rest of the team tell us about the service and the new team………..

Introducing the Recovery Centre

It’s been an exciting few months here at the new Recovery Centre, based at Asket Croft in Seacroft, as our new partnership team prepares to welcome service users onto the two new Rehabilitation and Recovery inpatient units following a review of our existing R and R service structure over the last 18 months. The redesign of the service has been put in place to provide more of a focus on rehabilitation and recovery into the community, rather than just on inpatient care. There are 2 R and R inpatient units both based on the Asket site in Seacroft, 1 supported and 1 independent (hoping to be similar to a therapeutic community), in addition to the opening of the Recovery Centre partnership team – us! – who will also be based on this site.
One of the most exciting and important aspects of our team at the Recovery Centre is that we are a partnership of workers from LYPFT, Leeds Mind, Community Links and Touchstone, coming together to share our individual skills and diverse levels of experience to ensure we can offer a range of support for service users as we aim to empower them to become more independent. Bringing together workers from LYPFT with workers from third sector organisations is an exciting opportunity, but as the team is brand new, it has meant we’ve all needed a few weeks to get to know each other and establish our new team, as well as set out our core values and aims.
The Recovery Centre team itself consists of care co-ordinators and recovery workers, some of whom started straight away at Asket Croft, others spending time within their parent organisations – for example, working in the Leeds Mind peer support service. The team will also be working with consultants, psychologists and social workers. The full team finally came together in person however at the start of December, with a full week of teambuilding and training, with the prospect of service users moving onto the Asket site from 5th January.
team building2Teambuilding was a particularly important part of our induction, mainly as we were coming together from a range of places to work in a brand new service, with a range of expectations, ideas and questions. A full first day hosted by Community Links gave us the chance to get to know each other and where we had all come from, as well as a chance to begin to discuss our team values and aims, leading to further discussion on these as the induction week progressed, encouraging us to begin to think about how we can as both individuals and teams make them grow. It was clear from early on in our induction that we all share core values of recovery, service user involvement and ensuring our approach is fully person-centred, keeping in line with our ultimate aim of empowering service users and supporting them to become more independent. It wasn’t all just flipchart work either – we had plenty of teambuilding activities and icebreakers, and arguably one of the most enjoyable parts of our induction week was a teambuilding trip to York, visiting the Christmas markets and getting to know each other a little more outside of the office environment!
As the Recovery Centre is brand new, training opportunities within our induction have also given us the chance to begin to develop our own best practice guides and policies, based on our core team values and aims. We have been able to discuss and explore potential opportunities for service user involvement at all levels of the service and involving service users throughout the care pathway – for example, involving service users in the recruitment of staff, or guiding service users in co-facilitating group sessions and workshops in the community to develop their own skills. We have also been able to develop our own Recovery Centre policies on boundaries and sharing experience (important as some workers within the team bring their own personal lived experience to their work with a peer support approach), and on how we will deliver Care Programme Approach (CPA) and how service users can be more involved in the CPA process themselves, potentially even leading their own CPA review meetings if comfortable.
Another large part of our induction was becoming more comfortable with and knowledgeable about each organisation in the partnership, and visiting other local community-based services and resources as our work will be a mixture of in-reach onto the inpatient units and outreach into the community. This has ranged from chatting to each other about our backgrounds and parent organisations, to more structured sessions, such as a workshop on peer support from Leeds Mind, led by staff and volunteers, and a visit to Touchstone and their community support team. The R and R psychology team who will be working with us delivered a session on formulation and how it will apply to our work, and our consultant psychiatrists also led a discussion on the work of medics within R and R, which was important in ensuring everyone was on the same page with regards to roles within the team.
All in all, our team induction has been a thoroughly enjoyable and interesting time – and we look forward to beginning our work with service users in a few weeks’ time!
(Follow us on Twitter at @LeedsMHRecovery)

Social Prescriptions

Keeping up to date with what is happening across Leeds is made a lot easier through Volition. Their latest newsletter is here; I was particularly interested in the Patient  Empowerment Project (PEP)  providing Social Prescriptions to people in West Leeds:

Barca Leeds

“The main aim is to improve the wider health and wellbeing of patients.  The project will improve services for patients by providing GPs with a link to refer patients to local groups and community activities in the voluntary sector.  Referred patients will be supported either in a group, or one-to-one to help them to develop the skills, knowledge and confidence to self-manage their condition. This approach is called  ‘social prescribing’.  The ambition is to connect up GP clinical treatments with community based solutions to help people to manage their health issues as effectively as possible”.

My understanding is that people in west Leeds can also self refer – here is a description of how it will work:

“Discussion with the patient will clarify what will work for them and information on the project will be provided.  If a referral is agreed, PEP will make contact and meet the patient to discuss how best they may be supported by available services.  This might be one to one support or linking to a group or activity.  PEP staff will provide personal support for patients to attend their first session and get started in a new group, service or activity”.

You can read more about the project and arrange to attend one of the information sessioons here; I am keen to see how this links up with LYPFT, this would be very useful for people accesing mental health services to link in closely with the wider community to boost their health and wellbeing.

What’s your view on this – would you refer as a care coordinator? Would you encourage people to self refer?

My Employment Peer Support Journey

This inspirational story highlights how a blend of support can help people set a new course and how volunteering can bring new opportunities too. The peer support eco-system!

WorkPlace Leeds


This blog has been written by one of our Job Retention Service clients who went on to access our Employment Peer Support Service, here’s what she has to say about her expeiences:

“My journey with WorkPlace Leeds at Leeds Mind began at the end of August last year when I had been off work with work related stress for 5 months. I was anxious, fearful, I felt I was a failure and I had lost all my confidence and believed I was of very little worth. The thought of returning to work filled me with dread, even though it was the goal I set myself. My first meeting with my job retention worker, Rosana was emotional, but I immediately felt listened to and supported. Through my retention worker, I began to appreciate and understand my mental health, identify negative triggers and become aware of how I had reached my crisis…

View original post 903 more words

Leeds learning disability week June 16th-20th

LD Awareness week

World Cup 5-a-side tournament, picnic in the park, photography competition – just a few examples of what’s going on in this busy week of campaigning and awareness raising in Leeds, visit the website here for more events and the details.

Nationally, Mencap are asking ‘Do you remember your first time?’, inviting the sharing of stories and experiences of overcoming adversity, prejudice and ignorance to experience some fab firsts. Click here for more information about how to share your story.

LYPFT Trust Wide Care Programme Approach Policy

The Trust Wide Care Programme Approach Policy (including arrangements for Standard Care Plan) has now been published at Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust following a review of the outgoing CPA Policy; it identifies best practice as outlined by the Department of Health, Nice Guidance and the various frameworks supporting practice. There was consultation across Leeds and York – clinical groups, service user and carer groups, social care and partner agencies.

Of note, the following are included within the policy:

  • The term ‘Standard Care Plan’ will be used to describe the arrangements for people not on CPA (this replaces the term ‘care plan’)
  • Involving people in developing their Care Plan and writing the care plan in a way to reflect this
  • The person (and their carer if agreed) should be provided with a copy of their Care Plan
  • Agreeing with the individual the best way to arrange their ‘Review’ – CPA or Standard Care Plan
  • Guidelines for Section 117 Aftercare including template for discharge or transfer – these have been agreed across the local authorities in Leeds, York and North Yorkshire

You can find a copy of The Trust Wide Care Programme Approach Policy (including arrangements for Standard Care Plan)  here.

The policy will be reviewed again in 2016, work on that will start in the next 9 -12 months. In the meantime, please feel free to leave your comments or feedback, they will be considered in the review. Nearer the time, I will be asking for people to express interest in getting involved with the review……..

Donna Kemp | CPA Development Manager | donna.kemp@nhs.net




St Vincent’s – supporting people away from poverty

I was struck by the work that St Vincent’s are doing in the community and the potential for bringing real benefit to people who need it; supporting people in getting on with their lives through providing advice, education and counselling and then presenting the opportunity to give back/participate through volunteering or donating food. This brings a real community feel that supports recovery and wellbeing;  I hope people will tap into this.  I asked if they would be willing to share the news with LYPFT Planning Care Network about what they are up to; and Kim kindly wrote a guest blog:

St Vincent’s has been supporting people living in poverty for 18 years. We are a centre of help, hope and opportunity, with a commitment to offering vulnerable people the tools to come out of debt, back into work and away from poverty. Operating from one of the 1% worst areas nationally for deprivation, we are working at grassroots level with those living on the edge of society.

Our holistic services include free debt advice, education, volunteering, counselling and employability support. All of our services are responsive to the needs of the people that we serve. As a part of our debt advice service, we saw a lot of people who were choosing between buying food and paying essential bills. We also saw a lot of families that were struggling with parents going hungry so their children could eat. We responded to this by giving our clients food parcels to get them through a difficult period.

Our volunteering programme at St Vincent’s is different to other charities as we take on and train people regardless of their background and abilities. This means we offer a supported volunteering pathway which gives people with mental health problems and physical disabilities a chance of work experience. The majority of our volunteers are vulnerable people being supported by us.

With the support of donations from church groups, we were able to expand this service by offering the parcels externally. This has now grown to the point that we are one of the key points of contact for people in need of food.

Did you know we are unlike regular food banks? We offer one-off emergency food parcels to help people during an unexpected crisis. All of our food comes from generous donations from individuals, churches, and other organisations so we can only help people in real need.

st vincents worker

Our service works on referrals from professional agencies in Leeds. Agencies such as doctors, support workers and debt advisors can refer a client to us. The client must be destitute and we ask that this service is used as a last resort, when all other available support has been accessed.

Have you ever been in a crisis or known of someone who has? We can help with just one phone call. Last week a support agency in Leeds asked us to help a gentleman they were working with who had not eaten for 3 days due to receiving no benefits. They phoned around to get help but no other agency could help as he was single. Other agencies will only help families but we understand that support needs to be flexible and that there is no one size fits all solution when providing help for people. The gentleman was delighted with the support and was offered help with his debts and benefits advice. The agency said ‘As social workers we often have to deal with society’s most desperate cases; it’s good to know places like St Vincent’s exist’.

We accept referrals by telephone Monday – Friday from 10:00 – 11:30.  If the client qualifies for a food parcel, it can be collected the same or next day from 11:30 – 13:00. All referrals must be done over the phone as we need to check the clients’ details with the agency to ensure we are helping the people who need it most.

Would you help us by donating food to help people in need? We gratefully accept donations of store cupboard food including tins, jars, pasta, cereal and long life milk. We also need toiletries such as soap, shampoo and toothpaste.

By donating food you are helping vulnerable people in Leeds who may have no other means of accessing food and this is their last resort, whether it be families, single people or the elderly every food parcel will ensure they eat for a couple of days until they get themselves back on their feet.

There is also the option of ‘giving back’ through donation to St Vincent’s:


Thanks from everyone here at St Vincent’s for all your support.

You can follow St Vincent’s on Twitter @StVincentsLeeds



Feedback from York Conversation Event

 wordle York conversation

18 people met last week for our first Conversation Event in York. This was in response  to a number of people wanting to get more involved in developing services in York and North Yorkshire.

Using a relaxed café style we held three facilitated conversations:

1)      Should we attempt to establish a service user/carer drop-in meeting in Y&NY and should we host a more formal Service User Network? Are people aware of the peer-led service user forum hosted by the Retreat and York Mind?

2)      Do people know about CPA and would they like to be involved in the CPA network?

3)      What levels and format of information are people keen to receive? Can we do away with some of our old fashioned leaflets or do we need to re-design?

The atmosphere was very good and many views were freely expressed.

Here’s some feedback:-

A group for York and North York?

The outcome of the network meetings was overwhelmingly in favour of establishing a group, and this of course we shall do. Probably alternating between a meeting in an afternoon and one in the early evening so that people who work are able to attend.

There will be future meetings of the Conversation Place, happening in York, so watch out for more information.

Care Programme Approach & LYPFT Planning Care Network

These were discussed as general topics; some folk had heard of Care Programme Approach (CPA) but not all, no one was aware of the Planning Care Network (PCN = this blog).

Care Programme Approach

The feedback told us that people were not always aware of the ways that care, support and treatment is organised within Leeds & York Partnership NHS Foundation trust (LYPFT) through either CPA or Standard Care Plan.   Information about CPA and what should be happening was not readily available and people did not know how to access the information.  There was concern that information was Leeds focused  and that people in York were not getting the information they needed.

People said that they were not always sure if they were on CPA or not; that there was inconsistency in reviews, they did not always happen and were not always conducted in a person centred way.

People were concerned that there should be ‘quality checks’ of CPA; to make sure that staff were doing as they should and that people were receiving the right support.

LYPFT Planning Care Network

The feedback told us that some people are concerned that the Planning Care Network (PCN) excludes some people as not everyone has access to the internet; and that their preference is for face to face contact and the benefits that it brings in engaging with people. There was concern expressed that the PCN was targeting the younger generation as they are more able to get involved with online.

Some people said that there was a benefit to PCN – it was a good way of connecting professionals, service users and carers – but that it should be remembered that it’s for service users benefit and should keep that focus.

People were concerned that there was not a Service User Network for York.  People highlighted that they did not know about PCN and thought that it was focused on Leeds; they felt that they should have been told about PCN before now.

Information: What information about mental health services would you find helpful?

 Here are some of the points that people made:

 1. The right information, at the right time, in the right place

  • Listening, information and support early on, or when waiting for an appointment, can lessen the distress and worry – problems may not then escalate; a stitch in time saves nine
  • Information needs to be where people are in the community not in MH service eg GP surgeries, schools, cafes, church etc. and shouldn’t be diagnosis focussed. Should also include support and information for carers/parents (including young carers)
  • Need better knowledge in schools – about mental health, able to pick up the signs, information in schools eg posters. Links to websites about mental health problems designed for teenagers , information about how to access services,
  • Better response from Social services when young people are struggling; GP’s need to have good mental health knowledge and not wait until a crisis
  • People need information about what they have a right to ask for and expect from services, and what to do if not getting this eg advocacy
  • Information that helps people have some understanding of what might be going on without having a diagnosis; diagnosis not always needed

 2. Information and help on websites

  • Set up single directory for York in a way that when people search for mental health information this will be one of first to pop up ie when people search using plain English questions – website would need to be kept up to date (York MH and Learning Disability Partnership board are making progress with this).
  • People able to “shop for support”, clear the people have choices eg access to personal budgets, promote recovery
  • Information on service websites needs to be well designed, up to date, answer the questions people are likely to ask (what does service do, how to access etc). Have links to other useful information – eg LYPFT website has very little about York services
  • Information needs to be joined up not just each service having its own or lots of different directories; to include NHS/statutory and voluntary/3rd sector services
  • Help service users to set up groups (eg Yahoo) to connect with each other – currently using  or after discharge from services
  • Websites  can’t be the only solution not everyone uses the internet to look for help – needed printed directories and information about where to get help to navigate all the different information out there.

3. Crisis Information

  • Information about what to do when there is not services/in crisis (eg late at night) – ways of not ending up going to A&E in desperation; information should be given to people early on
  • Information for carers about how to get help – especially when the person they care for is not wanting help or wanting their involvement
  • Information about support and help for young carers – picking them up early on eg through schools or adult MH services
  • Support after discharge – information, links to post groups/support forums

4. Ask service users

  • To design information
  • Advice on language – dropping the jargon, don’t overwhelm with info/details
  • Invite service users directly to be involved (eg letter at discharge)
  • Advise services on how and where people try to access information – so we put it where people look

Here are some useful links that were mentioned during the conversations:-

Healthwatch York  – this is the new way to influence local health and social care services;  Healthwatch York will help you and your family get the best out of your local health and social care services. You can be involved in shaping these services according to what your community wants or needs. We want to put you at the heart of health and social care services in York. http://www.healthwatchyork.co.uk/

CPA in Yorkclick here to see an information booklet about CPA in York

Independent Service User Forum – this group meets monthly in Library Square, York; contact nigelayre@yorkmind.org.uk @SUVoiceNYN for more information

York Carers Forum is a user-led group of unpaid Carers & Former Carers who live, work or care for someone who lives in the York area. Visit the website www.yorkcarersforum.org , email yorkcarersforum@tiscali.co.uk or call 01904 422437 for more information.

York Mind – York Mind is an independent provider of high quality mental health services in York and its surrounding area  http://www.yorkmind.org.uk/

Do these comments represent your views on what’s happening in York and North Yorks? Feel free to join in the conversation too – you can respond by leaving a comment below.

Leeds Survivor Led Crisis Service

Leeds Survivor Led Crisis Service is looking for new people to join our Board of Trustees

About the opportunity

Leeds Survivor Led Crisis Service is a vibrant, highly respected, innovative and multi award-winning charity. We provide services to people in acute mental health crisis, which are alternatives to hospital admission or statutory services. The Board of Trustees play a crucial role in leading and steering the organisation and upholding its vision and philosophy.

The role of Trustee involves meeting, usually on a Monday afternoon on a bi monthly basis and occasional additional involvement, such as sitting on interview panels for staff. You will need to be able to make a minimum commitment to LSLCS of 6 afternoon meetings per year. New Trustees are provided with a supportive induction and are mentored by an existing Trustee for the first six months of involvement.

What are we looking for?

We are looking for people with direct experience of emotional distress, who are currently using mental health services and who have an interest in alternative, pioneering ways of working with distress and crisis. People currently using the services of LSLCS are not eligible to be trustees, but can attend Board meetings as expert advisors.

We are particularly keen to achieve a more diverse Board of Trustees and we welcome applications from all sections of the community.

All new trustees are subject to a DBS check.

Contact for further details

If you are interested in finding out more about becoming a Trustee with Leeds Survivor Led Crisis Service please contact us on survivor.led@lslcs.org.uk or phone 0113 260 9328.


Enquire today and participate in an enriching experience which directly impacts on improving the lives of people with mental health problems in Leeds.


I met (virtually!) with Fiona Venner from Leeds Survivor Led Crisis Service.  She updated me about the service and the benefits it brings to people across Leeds in a Q&A.

Q.  Can you tell me about Leeds Survivor Led Crisis Service and what it offers? 

Leeds Survivor Led Crisis Service was set up in 1999 by a group of service users. The service was established, and continues to be governed and managed, by people with direct experience of mental health problems. We have our own unique perspectives on what it feels like to be in crisis and what helps and does not help. We have developed our service based on this knowledge and experience, while responding to the needs articulated by our visitors and callers.

We provide the following services:

Connect               0808 800 1212

Connect is a telephone helpline open 6-10.30 every night of the year. The service provides emotional support and information for people in distress. We receive around 5,000 calls a year. People can ring who are in crisis, anxious, depressed or lonely. They will be offered non judgemental and empathic support and information about other services, if requested. Connect supports people in crisis, as well as providing a preventative service, by supporting people before they reach crisis point. Connect also receives funding to provide emotional support to people who are carers.

Connect now offers online support to callers via our website. This provides an alternative to talking on the phone.

Connect is staffed by volunteers who have gone through a comprehensive and rigorous training programme and receive ongoing supervision, training and support. Many of them have their own experiences of mental health problems. Each shift is supervised by a paid shift supervisor.

Dial House          0113 260 9328

Dial House is a place of sanctuary open 6pm-2am Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Visitors can access when they are in crisis. They can telephone to request a visit, or turn up at the door 6-10.30.

Visitors can use the house as time out from a difficult situation or a home environment where they may feel unsafe or that may exacerbate their difficulties. Visitors can relax in a homely environment and can also gain one to one support from the team of Crisis Support Workers.

At Dial House we have a family room, so parents in crisis can bring children with them. We also transport visitors to and from the house by taxi, to make their journey safe and comfortable.

Dial House is now accessible to Deaf people. We can provide access to the service via text instead of phone and have BSL trained support workers to support Deaf visitors to the service.

Dial House @ Touchstone           0113 249 4675

Dial House @ Touchstone is the Dial House service, provided 6pm-11pm on Tuesday and Thursday evenings at the Touchstone Support Centre. The service provides crisis support to people from Black and Minority Ethnic Groups.

Dial House @ Touchstone is a partnership between Leeds Survivor Led Crisis Service and Touchstone. It brings together LSLCS’s expertise in providing crisis services and Touchstone’s in supporting people from BME groups.

Dial House @ Touchstone has received £500k in Lottery funding for five years. The project will open to new visitors on 1st October 2013.

The service is staffed by a Manager, Senior Crisis Support Worker and three Crisis Support Workers who are all from BME groups.

The service provides a place of sanctuary, emotional support and information. The staff will work in Dial House @ Touchstone and Dial House. The aim is to provide a culturally specific service at Dial House @ Touchstone, but also to provide a bridge to Dial House and make this service more accessible.

Dial House @ Touchstone is available for anyone from a BME group, including Refugees and Asylum Seekers. As with Dial House, transport and childcare are provided.

Group Work                       0113 260 9328

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Group, Tuesday 4-6

Hearing Voices Group, Wednesday 12-2

My Time Thursday peer and social support group, Thursday 12-3

Man-age men’s group, Thursday 3.15-5.15

Self Harm Group, Saturday 11-1

Coping with Crisis Group, Saturday 2-4

Q. What do people say about the service – what kind of difference does it make?

Here are some direct quotes from visitors and callers about the differences our services make:

“Just a short note to say thanks to Katharine for helping me to wash my hair.  It seems like such a simple thing to help with, but it is the fact that Dial House are there to help with everything including simple things which makes Dial House such a unique and fantastic place.”

“Dial House is mint!  It’s proper ace, it’s decent, proper nice.  Staff are really good, they listen and people are well nice to be around.  It’s cool to be around people who know what you have been through and who understand you – people who don’t judge you.”

“Its like a sanctuary here, I calmed down as soon as I walked in, feel safe and more like me again”

“I started to come to Dial House about 2 ½ years ago.  When I turned up I was suffering from bad depression and drug addiction.  I was very messed up, the staff here stuck by me and didn’t judge me, they also helped me believe in myself which gave me a little hope and helped me on my way to rehab.  I am doing really well and Dial House are still here for me, I am so grateful for Dial House.  Thank you.”

“Can I first start by saying my life is one big struggle.  I suffer with manic depression and at the moment Dial House is keeping me alive.  I don’t have much family that supports me or friends.  What you all are offering to me and I am sure lots of other people is not just somebody to talk to but a life line.  I hope that all the staff here can just stop a minute to realise how much you all are cared and loved by me.  Thanks so much for saving my life on so many occasions.”

“This is the best crisis service I have come across in all my time in Mental Health.”

“You have saved my life and given me the will to live”

Q. How can people get involved?

We are always looking for new volunteers for the Connect Helpline. Call 0113 260 9328 if you are interested in volunteering.

Q. What are the key messages for mental health staff?

In my opinion, the most important qualities to provide in a mental health service are:

  • Listening

“You listen, you don’t judge, you don’t tell me what to do.”

  • Treating people with warmth, kindness and respect,

“Thank you for all your wonderful warmth and for making me feel a worthwhile person tonight.”

  • People not feeling judged or assessed

“It is different to other services – it is easier to talk to staff. Staff are nice. They don’t judge you or put a label on you – saying ‘that’s what’s wrong with you.’”

  • Providing a different, safe and alternative environment

“It gets me out of the environment I am in, where I am alone, my minds racing with impulsive thoughts. It gives me a break from all of that and I return home and can go to sleep, a decent sort of sleep.”

  • Peer support

“It gives me a break. By being around people in the same situation as you; you are not having to feel ashamed.”

Thank you for the update Fiona 🙂

If you are in the voluntary sector in Leeds or York and want to share what you do and the benefits it brings to people, then get in touch via donna.kemp@nhs.net

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