Hear Us Mental Health Forum
Tuesday 3rd December 2019, 1pm – 4pm
All our Open Forums are held at: CVA Resource Centre, 82 London Road,
West Croydon, CR0 2TB
Summary of Meeting
Claire welcomed everyone to the last open forum of 2019.
Hear us need more volunteers. Volunteers for the office – admin. Volunteers for Reachout – various events around Croydon. Volunteers for the forum – putting chairs out, refreshments, signing in desk. Great to put on your CV! Please contact the office if you are interested.
Hear Us are going green. Food waste and recycling bins are now used at the forum. Compostable plates and cups are provided. Members are encouraged to bring their own reusable cups or Hear Us reusable cups can be purchased.
Thomas from the Studio Upstairs told everyone about a free open day.
Smokers were reminded to throw away their cigarette ends or face a fine. The CVA may be able to provide a bucket.
Michael Edwards – Advocacy Service Manager – Mind in Croydon’s Advocacy Service Steering Group.
Service user involvement is vital to running services and Mind are looking for service users to sit on a steering group to direct the advocacy service. This advocacy service is specifically for mental health advocacy around care and treatment. A lot of the advocacy is for people on inpatient wards. Some members stated that there is a disparity between mental health services and physical health services. Some members said that there is a gap in services for welfare and benefits assistance. Many service users would like advocacy for welfare benefits assessments and tribunals. People have had to go alone to DWP assessments, which can be a frightening and anxiety inducing experience.
Peter Phillips – Employment & Social Inclusion Services Manager Mind in Croydon – Employment & Social Inclusion Services.
Following on from the previous discussion about benefits advice, Peter starting by mentioning that Mind in Croydon have recently employed two new workers to work exclusively with Universal Credit issues. They may be able to attend assessments or tribunals. He then went on to discuss his service, which is primarily to enable people with mental health challenges to return to paid work, stay in their current job or find something new. Peter emphasised that individuals suitable for the service must be motivated to work. People may be in work and looking for something new perhaps because of work-related stress. The end goal must be to find paid employment (part-time or full-time) but may involve some training, education or volunteering along the way. Volunteering is encouraged as long as the aim is to build confidence, for example, to eventually lead to paid employment. Some members were concerned about not having sufficient IT skills for employment or job-searching but Peter said this need not be a barrier and Mind have digital ‘champions’ (volunteers with IT skills and experience) to help support those who need it.
Dora Crook – Active Minds Manager – Active Minds.
Dora went through the different activities available and how Active Minds works. Service users need a referral from their care coordinator, social worker, GP etc. If a GP tries to charge for a supporting letter then let Active Minds know and they will challenge this. A GP should not be charging for supporting letters.
Mariam Souza-Opio – Senior Clinical CMHT Pharmacist SLaM – Pharmacy in the Community and Medication.
ariam gave an interesting and interactive presentation about medication and side effects. The forum then had a lively discussion about medication. One member asked if the GPs are in cahoots with pharmaceutical companies. Mariam was not able to comment but said she encouraged service users to be actively involved in their medication and discuss concerns with their care coordinator or GP. Mariam said that if service users are concerned about side effects from medication then they can ask for an appointment with the community pharmacy who will be happy to discuss their concerns. Service users should ask their care coordinator to make an appointment with the pharmacy which should only take a week or so to arrange. Members had very specific queries about particular medications so Mariam directed them to the EMC online (Electronic Medical Compendium) which has a list of all medications and their side effects.
Croydon Council Gateway – Welfare Benefits Services.
Andrew and Lorna from Access Croydon gave a quick rundown of the support they can offer. They mentioned the Croydon Lettings team and Discretionary Housing Payment team (DHP). The DHP team issue food vouchers, white goods, and beds (Argos vouchers). You can get applications forms from Croydon Council (Bernard Weatherill House) and may need a supporting letter or referral from a care coordinator. If you do not have a Care-Coordinator please speak to Access Croydon. There is a new food stop on Wednesdays 10am-12pm at the Parchmore Centre. For £3.50 you can get quality food up to the value of £20.00. Also an employment team can help people get back into work.