The Hear Us Linkworking Project has been running in Croydon since Oct 2007. Our Peer Support Linkworkers visit the inpatient wards at the Royal Bethlem Hospital and Croydon’s Mental Health Community Services, Jeanette Wallace House and Queens Resource Centre.
The Team meet with service users and support them by listening to their current experiences of using mental health services; these experiences are shared with commissioners and providers to help shape mental health services to meet the needs of people that use services.
We advise and signpost service users to services that can help with recovery and social inclusion, helping people connect and live healthier lifestyles. The Linkworkers are all people with lived experience of mental illness, and many are still using Croydon’s services and by sharing our own recovery journeys, we bring hope and insight into the lives of others.
Before the COVID-19 Pandemic Linkworking project had 20 Linkworkers covering 13 wards and services and running 17 sessions per week. We worked with SLaM and introduced remote Linkworking Sessions, and prioritised the inpatient wards, Gresham 1 & 2, Tyson West, Fitzmary 1 and Gresham PICU. Our Linkworkers remotely contact service users on these wards using iPads. In January 2023 we will be restarting face-to-face Linkworking sessions across all of Croydon’s mental health inpatient and community services.
Some of the Linkworkers also get involved in other areas of the services that South London and Maudsley Foundation Trust (SLaM) cover such as sitting on interview panels for recruitment and co-delivering training across the trust and beyond. This is done through the South London and Maudsley NHS Trusts (SLaM) Involvement Register
“The Linkworking mission is to improve the quality of Croydon’s mental health services commissioned in Croydon, by lobbying and campaigning on local mental health issues based on feedback from service users raised through our Linkworkers.”
The Linkworking Project runs in different mental health services in Croydon, providing support to service users whilst also giving them a chance to raise any issues, concerns or compliments within that service, so that we can help support positive changes to be made and shape services to suit the service user.
Who are the Linkworkers?
“The team of Hear Us Linkworkers are all current or ex service users who have been through their own mental health issues and used local services to support their recovery. Using their experiences to help others, the Linkworkers are committed to supporting positive mental health in Croydon by supporting service users and help to develop services that provide the help needed, as and when it is needed.”
What do the Linkworkers do?
The main role of the Linkworker is to act as a link between staff and service users and support services to improve based on the needs and issues faced by people using services.
Our main role is to:
Listen: “We are there to listen and not to judge. Having had our own mental health problems, we know how helpful it is to have someone to talk to in confidence and have their own lived experiences of services. As Linkworkers, we offer a safe space to talk about any issues without any fear of repercussions, so that service users can get the help to feel better.”
Support: “If any issues are raised or someone shares something that is worrying them, we are there to support them and try to help get the issues resolved. To do this, we can either support them to raise the issue themselves, or raise the issues on their behalf, anonymously or directly, depending on what is prefer.”
Signpost: “Sometimes what’s on someone’s mind might be something that we can’t help with directly but we can usually point them in the direction to get help. For example, someone might be worried about benefits or need support to find work. In these cases, we can usually let them know about other organisations that are available to help.”
Linkworkers want to listen, support and signpost service users in the right direction to get help. However, we also know that sometimes just talking to someone who shows they care and understand or just offer a bit of hope that things will get better.
Whatever is needed, talking to the Linkworkers can be the first step towards getting better, whether that’s finding a way to deal with some of the issues that are going on in life, telling us about experience of services and helping us to make improvements or simply making use of a listening ear.
Where do the Linkworkers work?
“If you want to talk to a Linkworker, there are several ways that you can do this:
To find out when we are available in each of these service, please check the notice boards or ask a member of staff who should be able to provide you with more information.
Please note that, if you want to talk to a Linkworker but you haven’t been able to speak to someone in one of the local services listed above, contact the Hear Us office and we will be able to put you in touch with a Linkworker to talk through your issues.
Also, if we’re not available in your local service in Croydon and you’d like us to be, please contact us or your local service manager to talk about getting the project set up in your service.”
“There are lots ways that you can get involved in the Linkworking Project, either by talking to us, becoming a Linkworker, helping us to set up the project in your service or simply spreading the word about the work we are doing.