Here is the update for the February Lewisham Mental Health Carer forum. The forum is aimed at those who care for someone with a mental illness. Most who attend are unpaid family carers. For this forum we were joined by the CQC inspector for GP surguries and Professor Luke Clements from Leeds University who is an expert on carer’s rights.
As for the members of the forum, carer members were from South West London, Lewisham and Greenwich where I often host other carer forums or support groups. We were even joined by West London NHS trust staff who were interested in how a carer led forum runs, plus also SLaM early intevention staff.
Welcome to my latest blog post by unpaid carer Matthew Mckenzie from South London. I thought to do a quick blog and do my bit regarding COVID-19 Vaccines and the importance of getting the vaccine when it is offered to you.
As you probably already know, just by looking at my photo. I am a black person. It was only in 2019 that health services were put under immense pressure due to the impact of the virus. Not just the health services, but social care, the economy….come to think about it practically everything. Up until now many unfortunately people have been taken from us because of this terrible virus. The old and young, black or white and rich or poor. No one is truely safe, especially those who high risk COVID infection jobs or those from poorer backgrounds. Those from BAME groups have a higher risk of catching the infection and are still suffering the worst outcomes. It does not help that the history of health and social care has been at odds with those from a BAME background.
Fast forward to now there has been many changes and developments. We in the UK are lucky to have access to COVID-19 Vaccines and it was not long before I was offered mine. As a carer and a black person, I was still in two minds about getting the jab.
I must admit I am in many whatsapp groups, plus facebook groups and so on. I often received emails warning about the vaccine and how black people were being tested for eradication, or how my hair would fall out (well I don’t have that much left anyway). Most people I came into contact with discussed the importance of having the Vaccine, while others did not want anything to do with it. Looking back on what we all have been through in 2020 certainly made up my mind. I have lost too many people to the virus and when I was offered the vaccine, I took it.
The day of vaccine jab, I felt a little nervous, I was not sure what to expect or if I would get an unfriendly service. I admit it was so easy to book the appointment online and the location of the vaccine centre was very easy to get to.
I was greeted by friendly staff at the GP surgery who asked appropriate questions before I was due for the vaccine. It was not a long wait and every one was friendly. I filled out a form on my health backgroud, which was also very fast and waited for my turn.
I did not see anyone being dragged into a room and given the shot, people could change their mind anytime and to be honest every one was calm and quite. As soon as I was in the nurses treatment area, the jab was so quick that I hardly noticed it. There still some worry about side effects, but its been 2 days now and apart from a sort arm I have had no side effects at all.
I felt that after all the worry, the COVID-19 vaccine is completely safe and we as black people need all the defense we can get from the virus. There is no conspiracy to wipe out the black race or put microchips in them. We won’t be made infertile, because there certainly is no serious data on clinical trials pointing to this.
It still is important to wear a mask, because no vaccine is 100% effective and so it is important to practice social distancing. I urge those from a BAME background to take the vaccine because we have suffered enough not just from the virus but the difficult roles that those from a BAME background have to do be it in the NHS or social care. I certainly urge carers also to take the vaccine because if you are caring for someone vulnerable and you catch the virus then you put the person you care for at greater risk.
We all must do our bit and protect ourselves, our community and our loved ones. The virus does not really care if your black or white, rich or poor. The virus’s job is to infect you and you have to roll that dice to hope it won’t kill you or spread to those you are trying to protect.
Welcome to the January Southwark & Lambeth joint Mental Health carer forum. The forum is aimed at carers who are caring for someone with mental illness, but they want to understand what mental health services are planning and also what carers can get access to.
For the speakers for this forum, were as follows.
Josh Simpkins – Lambeth Carers
David Meyrick – SLaM Southwark inpatient ward carer lead – Triangle of Care
Karen Persaud – Carer rep for the Royal College of Psychiatrists
Welcome to the first January Lewisham BAME carer forum for 2021. The BAME carer forum is one of the 6 carer forums I run once a month. The carer forum runs online to adhere to covid-19 restrictions and allows members to attend a lot more easily.
The BAME Mental Health carer forum is aimed at BAME carers who are caring for someone with a mental illness, especially for someone using the services of South London & Maudsley, although I am not super strict who attends the forum since carers from other forums and boroughs often attend.
On the January agenda were the following.
NHS England presenting on their National Patient Carer Race Equality Framework (PCREF)
SLaM presenting on their Local drives for PCREF
SLaM older adults diversity drive
We were joined by Staff from Oxleas as well as Manchester NHS Trust who are also seeking to engage and improve services for the BAME community.
The Fircroft Trust are devastated to have been informed by RBK, without consultation or notice, to vacate our beloved Mental Health Resource Centre on Ditton Road.
The Fircroft Trust has leased this building for over 40 years and provide a haven for over 75 people who have varying degrees of mental health challenges. At a time when there is a national crisis in mental health, withdrawing this essential support system, which has not only been shown to improve quality of life for the individuals who accessed it, but also reduce hospital admissions and suicide rates, has been devastating for our local community.
The Fircroft Trust has worked hard to minimise the impact of the pandemic on the people who rely on their service and have continued to support the community by maintaining daily contact with their most vulnerable service-users, either via telephone, outside group activities or ‘COVID-friendly’ garden work and meet-ups. However, the impact of the pandemic has meant The Fircroft Trustfaced increasing demands for their service from vulnerable members of our community. This is something The Fircroft Trustcan’t ignore and they urgently need your help.
How you can help
Services needed by our community:
The Fircroft Trust are urgently seeking new premises in the Chessington, Surbiton or Tolworth area that would be suitable for us to resume the face-to-face support services that is so missed by our service users.
If you can help, or know of a local building, please contact Kay Harris on the details below. Please share this with your network and help us to continue supporting the people in our community who need us most.
Welcome to the first update of the first carer forum for January. These carer forums are aimed at those caring for someone with mental illness. The forums provided engagement from mental health services to educate and involve carers regarding services provided.
Carers can also network together and slowly build up empowerment. For the month of January we had Lewisham health commissioner Natalie Sutherland talk about the following.
Her role at the Clinical Commissioning Group
Why the CCGs merged
Their focus on mental health
Pressures on the health system due to corona virus
Initiatives for families and carers.
Also in attendance were carer members from Lewisham and some from other areas interested in mental health services. We also had a few researchers from universities wanted to speak to carers about their research.