I was so proud to be asked to join the planning Committee for the Working Together Forum this year and when the position came up to Chair the entire event, I jumped at the chance!
The more work I do with a particular organization, the more eager I am to take on more responsibilities and bigger opportunities. I guess I see it almost like most work where there’s a promotion in sight and like many things in my blogging career, I’ve had to discover and sort of, decide for myself, what this means. What a ‘promotion’ means to me. What I’d class as a ‘step up;’ and chairing an entire event for such a wonderful, supportive, and inspirational organization like Richmond Fellowship (RF), seemed like the right role to do just that. And as I did last year, I also agreed to co-facilitate a workshop with the awesome Emily Dell from the RF Communications team (more on that later!).
I was privileged to be able to travel down to London the day before the event and after we realized that five of us (from the planning Committee) were booked into the same hotel (the Premier Inn Euston London), we met up for dinner late that night. It was a great chance to get to know one another and - after many conference calls over the last few months - put faces to voices! And it meant that on the morning of the Forum, we were all able to travel to the venue together and avoid numerous taxi fayres and many frozen ‘Maps’ apps! We went very early so that we could all help to set up the room (at ORT House) and the foyer which held the table to sign-in, a table to sign-up to a workshop, and many tables with tea, coffee, and pastries!
10:00 – 10:10
We kicked off the event with me doing the housekeeping; explaining where the toilets and fire exits were located and each room for the four available workshops.
10:10 – 10:20
I then introduced the amazing and hilarious Rachel Perkins, Chair of the Working Together Committee (which I’m now an official member of!) and she gave a welcome speech talking about her recent appointment to her position, and the theme of the event: ‘My Health, My Happiness.’ She gave examples of instances where our physical health has impacted our mental health and vice versa; they were all brilliant examples because they were ones that everyone could identify with and not solely staff or solely service users (as a mixture were in attendance). Rachel’s general attitude and demeanor is infectiously cheerful and uplifting, so she was the perfect choice for the welcome speech because she got everyone into the right kind of mood and attitude for the day ahead and really helped to set a positive atmosphere.
10:20 – 10:50
Next, we had Ste Hinton and Lizi Baker (members of the Forum planning Committee) host an ‘Icebreaker quiz’ on all things mental and physical health. Everyone really enjoyed themselves and it was actually really educational; we learnt – among many things - how many bones are in the feet and hands (105), how many chambers are in a heart (4) and that up until the Mental Health Discrimination Act in 2013, a person who’d been sectioned (for over six months under the Mental Health Act1983) were unable to become MPs.
10:50 – 11:00
We then had a little presentation from Emily Dell, RF’s Group Internal Communications Officer about the ENRICH Awards 2019. As these are internal awards and I’m unsure how many of my readers would be appropriate for them, you can find out more info & make your nominations here: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/RFEnrichAwards2019
11:00 – 11:20
After Emily’s short talk we heard the recovery stories of Emma Voss and Barry Long. Emma spoke about how the loss of her Father and having to file for bankruptcy with her Husband, had affected her mental health and led her on a completely different career path that was both uplifting and refreshing. Barry spoke about how it took a suicide attempt for him to get the much-needed help he needed for his mental health and that now, he works in personal training and gets a huge rush of endorphins and a sense of achievement in his fitness routine.
11:20 – 11:35
11:35 - `12:25
Immediately after the break, the crowd divided, and everyone went to the room assigned to the workshop they had chosen. I co-facilitated one, so I was unable to experience any of the four on both the morning and afternoon session, but we ran four workshops which were all different yet based around the general ‘My Health, My Happiness’ theme of the Forum. There was one called ‘Just A Little Oopmh’ which was a gentle exercise workshop ran by Joe McPhoy and Lizi Baker. The second was ‘Good Food, Good Mood’ – a chance to learn the importance of eating a healthy and balanced diet – facilitated by Ste Hinton and Mick Curtis. Third, we had ‘Reap Heaps of Deep Sleep’ with Michael Clarke and Beverley Clay; this workshop provided the chance for attendees to find out how essential sleep is to a person’s physical and mental health. Finally, the fourth workshop was the one I co-facilitated with Emily Dell; ‘Great Days Always.’ In our workshop, we discussed the importance of recognizing that not everyone experiences a ‘great day’ in the same way and that it means something different for each person. To illustrate this Emily and I had slides throughout our PowerPoint presentation that gave examples of our own definitions of a ‘great day’ and we spoke about the things we can do to boost our chances of making our day ‘great’ and things we should avoid doing so that we can have a ‘great’ day. At the end of the fifty-minute session, we had designed an activity for everyone to be able to complete a set of weekly goals of things they’d like to do to maintain their mental and physical health e.g. ‘get at least 8 hours sleep’ or ‘take medication every day.’
12:25 – 13:25
13:25 – 13:50
When I saw ‘Boogie with Tubsy’ on the agenda I was concerned! I couldn’t remember it ever being discussed in our planning meetings so I had no idea what it was going to involve or entail. When Bhupinder Kullar got up on the stage with a really big drum I figured this was going to mean some movement…
13:50 – 14:10
After working up a sweat, we were all grateful for a slightly less interactive presentation from Emily Bromley of Big White Wall. Emily provided everyone with insight into the supportive, and positive network offering help to people with a wide range of mental health and wellbeing issues.
14:10 – 14:30
We then heard from Data Systems Development Officer, Christina Hare who provided everyone with an update on the Richmond Fellowship Client Portal; a service designed to allow Service Users the ability to access more information that RF hold on them and contact their Support Worker. The initial presentation on this was heard at a previous event I’d attended and originally, the idea was to allow Service Users access to their case notes too but I, and a few others raised a
14:30 – 14:45
14:45 – 15:35
Workshops (repeated from the morning)
15:35 – 16:00
We wrapped up the day with the presentation of certificates (one was for me!), some thank you’s, and a few closing remarks from myself and Rachel Perkins. After seeing there were no certificates for them, I thought that the particular four RF staff who’d been heavily involved in the event; Lizi, Bev, Emily, and Pam deserved a round of applause too!
ANNOUNCEMENT: THE RECOVERY FOCUS WEBSITE LAUNCHED 4.11.2018 AND CAN BE FOUND HERE: https://www.recoveryfocus.org.uk/