After a productive break catching up on tweets for the Richmond Fellowship Tyneside account - that I was managing for the day – and meeting a few new faces; Rachel and I called everyone to order to introduce our next Award presenters. 

Helen, Chair of the Recovery Focus Board and Michael, a client with Aquarius, announced the shortlist for the Excellence in Innovation Award. The criteria for this Award was for a team or project to demonstrate the most innovative approach to improving the quality of a service or increasing Richmond Fellowship’s productivity or efficiency. The ‘top three’ nominees were Lowther Street Crisis House, Macclesfield Homeless and Complex Needs Service, and Trevayler Care Home. The winner was Lowther Street Crisis House, the only community crisis house in Cumbria who provide 24-hour support for up at six people at a time in Whitehaven.

Helen and Michael also presented the Award for Excellence in Partnership Working which would be presented to the team or project who demonstrate outstanding partnership working to enhance an existing service or to secure a new contract. The shortlist was East Surrey Work Programme, My Time Domestic Violence Perpetrator Programme and Tyne, Wear and Northumberland Liaison and Diversion Service. The winner of this Award was the East Surrey Work Programme who are a unique service to Richmond Fellowship by working in partnership with G4S and Jobcentre Plus to support people back into paid employment. 

The final Award before the break for lunch was for Excellence in Engagement which was awarded to a team or project that has demonstrated principles of co-production to achieve objectives. The ‘top three’ for this category were Pele Tower, RF Connect, and Wiltshire Recovery and Social Inclusion. RF Connect took the trophy home after significantly improving the case management system to enable service users to have access to their own case records.

Before lunch, came some ‘entertainment’ in the form of hearing the recovery story of Barrie who was previously supported by Richmond Fellowship. Barrie had spoken at the previous Working Together Forum and his presentation had such a brilliant reception that he was invited to spread the word of recovery further! 

He summed up the beginning of his journey: “I got into drugs and gambling and my negative thoughts and actions got worse. I felt like a failure. I took an overdose. I woke up in Intensive Care the next day and I checked myself into a psychiatric ward. Six months later I moved into a Richmond Fellowship property.”

My, personal, five favourite quotes from him were:
1.      And I still see a lot of people from my mental health journey thanks to social media
2.      Travel and go to as many new enviroments as possible, learn, see and achieve new things
3.      Great things never come from the comfort zone
4.      It’s never too late to be what you might have been
5.      Persevere, work hard, and believe in yourself

Attendees were then treat to a more light-hearted performance from Tubsy  who began his performance with the Bhangra drum with a short explanation of how he came to be a Drug and Alcohol Support Worker with Aquarius and the SHANTI project after having been sober for twenty years. 

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