Who We Help
Our service users are predominately residents in the London Borough of Croydon but we also support service users who receive services from SLaM who are not resident in this borough. To access our services, our key requirement is that someone has a severe and enduring mental health condition.
Last year – 2018 to 2019 – we reached nearly 3,700 people (3676) with the vast majority in receipt of SLaM services. We know this as we record ethnographic and other data for all service users.
How We Engage
We consult with our service users regularly who are keen to have their say in service design and delivery. Since all our trustees, staff and volunteers have lived experience of mental illness, we strongly support the involvement of service users in the design and delivery of any project. We also include our service users in project development.
One example of this; once a year at one of our Open Forums, we run focus groups for all service users, to find out what subjects/topics they would like to cover, and what guest speakers they would like to invite for the coming year. In addition to this we feedback on the plan at the next Open Forum.
We evaluate everything we do for its impact on our service users. We involve everyone regardless of mental illness and refuse to discriminate based on behaviour which is often brought about by their situation. The monitoring and evaluation section details how we actually do this through meaningful involvement in their care, treatment and financial support as well as determining what they want to see in terms of both our services and the services provided by statutory and other voluntary agencies and how they want to receive communications.
How People Find Our Services
A key resource is our ‘Guide to Croydon’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Services’ published for anybody – those experiencing mental health problems, carers and professionals alike – as a comprehensive, up to date, information guide which covers all of the London Borough of Croydon’s mental health and wellbeing services. This extensive guide includes statutory and voluntary services, details of our peer support and social groups, and much other useful information; and is on both our websites.
Our websites www.hear-us.org that is regularly updated and full of useful information e.g. Hear Us’ Peer Support sessions. We find that many people use it, including carers, professionals and the wider public. We regularly receive feedback from people who have used the website and the impact of the information available on their lives. We regularly post to Facebook and other social media to demonstrate the work we do. We also have a comprehensive On-Line Guide to Croydon’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Services www.guide-hear-us.org
How We Work with Others
Hear Us believes strongly in partnership working to provide maximum holistic support but we also acknowledge our specialist skills and experience enable us to support our service users as we are 100% service user led and run. We work closely with the organisations listed, across a range of projects, and in different guises, to support users.
Frequent and regular referrals for service users come from: Croydon’s Community Mental Health Teams (Consultant Psychiatrists), Croydon GPs, Probation Service and Specialist Housing Support Schemes; specialist organisations users with complex forensic histories, Turning Point (clients with drug and alcohol issues) and many other organisations sending people seeking to access relevant social or leisure activities as well as peer support.
During April 1st 2018 to March 31st 2019, we helped over 3500 service users and their families, friends and professionals. We linked those with mental illness who wanted to help a service user find social and leisure activities; be able to travel easily (freedom passes & blue badges support); get relevant expert peer support to address welfare benefits issues; or simply help them find a safe space where they will be supported, listened to, and engaged into the wider community.
We achieve this by having strong ongoing two-way relationships with various statutory agencies. One particular one to highlight: Croydon Jobcentre refer clients to us whom they identify as having additional emotional health needs and in return they provide additional expertise to ensure service users get the best possible outcome (welfare benefits). We feed in to the work of South London and Maudsley NHS Trust (SLaM) both operationally and strategically and have regular meetings with Croydon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to review the work we do and the impact on service users.
Sitting within the voluntary sector; we have regular valuable contact with day centres; such as Imagine Day Services, (our peer navigators help their users with benefits. In return we refer service users to them for day support); Mind in Croydon and Association of Pastoral Care in Mental Health (APCMH) (we work side by side to help more complex welfare benefits cases); and Status Employment (they help our clients find work experience or employment, and we return the favour through welfare benefits).
We are also pleased to have good referral partnerships with organisations that enable us to concentrate on our user consultation, engagement and involvement work whilst being reassured that our service users are getting the additional expert support they might need. Organisations such as the Citizens Advice covers Housing & Debt; Food Banks provide nutrition; Christians Against Poverty support those with serious debt, the South West London Law Centre (Croydon / Sutton) deal with expert legal matters e.g. tribunals; and Active Minds take our referrals for sports.
Finally, we also attend regular meetings with a wide range of agencies and partnerships to ensure the needs of those with severe, enduring mental illness are heard and addressed across Croydon. We sit on the Mental Health Programme Board and Mental Health Transformation community Pathway Delivery Group as a service user representative. We influence the design, commissioning and delivery of mental health services. We have had a big influence on the plan to introduce hubs as part of the CCG’s transformation work.