Author Archives: mmckenz11

About mmckenz11

IT Officer for London School of Osteopathy and a Carer representative for Maudsley. As you can see, I have many interests shown off my blog. I hope to keep it updated with posts and more things to come soon.

January carer forum updates 2023

Hello fellow unpaid carers. I am doing a quick update of most of my carer forums that I facilitate in London. These groups focus on mental health carers. Basically people who are caring for someone going through mental illness.


Members of the Lewisham group were interested in how the Ladywell Unit was performing for unpaid carers. The Ladywell mental health unit has several wards. The unit is based at Lewisham & Greenwich NHS trust. We were joined by Inpatient carer engagement Eunice Adeshokan who gave us an update. We were also joined by Cath Collins who leads on engaging carers in the community.

The next speaker was Caroline Norrie who is a research fellow at Kings College London. She spoke about research regarding addictions and the gambling industry.

She kindly passed on details on support services

Online gambling: GamStop is a free scheme that can be used to allow gamblers to self-exclude from online gambling websites and apps run by companies licensed in Great Britain.

Blocking software: A GamBan software licence enables people to block access to online gambling apps and websites. The licence can be obtained for free if it is requested through the National Gambling Helpline.

Blocking gambling banking transactions: Some banks offer blocks on gambling transactions, with some having a 48-hour cooling off period before it can be removed which may help to prevent relapse. For information about which banks offer a gambling blocking service go to:

It is worth noting that people can no longer use credit cards to pay for gambling.

Betting shops, casinos, arcades and bingo halls:

All gambling premises such as arcades, bingo halls and casinos must be part of a multi-operator self-exclusion scheme (MOSES). This allows a gambler to make a single request (by filling in a form) to self-exclude from all premises offering the same type of gambling, such as betting shops. Once a self-exclusion agreement is made, the gambling company must close the gambler’s account, return money in it, and remove personal details from their databases.

For betting shops see or ring 0800 294 2060
For casinos see
For arcades see

For bingo halls see National Lottery Healthy Play | The National Lottery (


For my Southwark & Lambeth mental health carers forum, we were joined by Toby Lee-Manning who is the Carers Development Lead for St Christopher’s Hospice.

St Christopher’s Hospice exists to promote and provide skilled and compassionate palliative care, but there also should be a focus on unpaid carers who are caring for someone end of life. The difficultly appears when people who are providing unpaid care are not sure what to do.

Luckily St Christopher’s Hospice have developed online courses aimed at carers, this is what Toby presented to our group.

Caring for Carers – online course

We were also joined by Damian Larkin who is the Digital Health Nurse Lead at South London & Maudsley NHS. Damian spoke about BETH. Basically Beth is a free and secure way for our patients and carers to stay connected with their care team.

If you are interested in BETH – please check out SLaM BETH site


For my ethnic carer forum we were joined by Carers UK. Patrick Knock presented a project where Carers UK is currently working a series of ‘Carers Active Stories’ videos to highlight to unpaid carers the benefits of being physically active from the perspective of a carer giving their firsthand experience.

Here is a video link below

Next was Simon Mayers who is the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Lead for Maudsley covering the borough of Lewisham. Simon updated the group on how Lewisham is working with the new equality policy. This policy is called “Patient Carer Race Equality Framework”. This framework is aimed at mental health NHS trust across England and it is important carers get a chance to get updates and raise any queries.

We also had Tafadzwa Marapara from Oxleas NHS trust. Oxleas is also adopting PCFREF and it was only fair to hear what they plan on engaging black carers and patients using their services.

Kevlin one of our carer members is heavily involved in PCREF over at the maudsley, so I gave him a chance to update the group. Plus we also had Halima Ali join us to speak about her research project on What are the Occupational experiences of BAME unpaid mental health carers for people with a mental health diagnosis?”


This carer forum is slightly different from my other carer forums. This one covers multiple boroughs as we are developing a strong carers network. This group covers Richmond, Merton, Kingston, Wandsworth and Sutton. We get support from all 5 carer centres.

This group also spends a fair bit of time for carers to update how things have been progressing. We were also joined by Nicole Smith who is a Darzi Fellow in Integrated Medicine. She spoke to the group about Virtual Wards and how they are important regarding the NHS. She is also doing some research.

You can give feedback on her survey at the link below

Virtual Ward survey


This forum is slightly different as it is linked the the Greenwich carer peer group I facilitate for the borough. Greenwich Carers centre help me run the group. This forum runs every 2 months.

The forum was filled with a lot of speakers so I was glad that Oxleas work hard to engage with carers.

We were joined by Catherine Seabourne who is Oxleas Head of Nursing. She talked about her role and answered queries from carers. We were hoping to hear developments from Jason McCulloch who Service Manager regarding Greenwich Carers Strategy, Jason was unable to attend.

We were also joined by Ariane Zegarra and Janice Williamson. Janice is the new Carers Network Lead for Oxleas. We were given updates regarding social care.

This was the January update for most of my carer groups.

Improving Access to Psychological Therapies research – University of Manchester

There is an exciting opportunity for mental health carers and those who have used Increasing Access to Psychological therapies.

Have you used Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services?

If so, you might be interested in helping shape research exploring IAPT services to improve long term benefits for those with anxiety and/or depression. A new Advisory group is forming, but there are limited places.

Please see poster below.

For more information please contact

A Story of Hope from the audiobook Providing Care

Welcome back to my carer blog site. I have been resting for a week or so. Well to be honest, I caught a nasty cold. So was not able to do much, but now that I have nearly recovered, I am back to writing again. I am still working on my carer fictional stories. Each story will be part of an audiobook called “Providing Care & Other Short Stories”.

There will be a set of 20 short stories looking into the experiences of carers who fight to provide care for someone suffering mental illness. Each of the stories will have a specific theme. I have turned 3 of the stories into video format already and plan to turn more into videos.

Here is one of the videos below.

Some of the stories will be in an audio format.

I have nearly finished my 7th story called “A Story of Hope”. This story might seem dark in some of the things it raises, but as the title suggests there is still some hope.

The story begins with a young woman visiting a mental health hospital trying to find out why someone ended up in there. It is a shock and a mystery as she is thrown into a desperate situation.

The young woman tries her hardest to fight for the person she loves, but has the damage already been done? She has never faced such a situation before and she does not known who to trust. She is still struggling with the past, but is the past going to catch up with her?

Of course I do not want to spoil the story, but the story does raise important themes on what it is like to care for mental illness.

I hope to finish this story soon and work on the 8th short story called “Discriminated”.

January Carer & Mental Health News Updates 2023

Latest carer and mental health news for January by carer activist and author Matthew McKenzie

January 2023 Carer and Mental Health news <- read more news items here

For the January edition on unpaid caring and mental health we have

Research on mental health family carers during covid pandemic – Jane Lawrance

Wendy Chamberlain MP visits Camden Carers Centre to hear about Working for Carers scheme

The Guardian view on unpaid carers: labour, even if it is for love

Give feedback on care – CQC

Meet the team: Black Thrive Lambeth CAPSA – Maudsley NHS

AHPs Deliver: Exploring the new AHP Strategy and what it means for you – Video

Laura Winham death: Family battled privacy law as sister lay dead

RSA Launches New Carers’ Policy

Mental Health Inequalities in Black/African/Caribbean Community in Southwark

Government mental health strategy update announced

Carers Trust responds to Archbishops’ Commission on Reimagining Care report


Carer Story number 2 – Digging out of a Hole by Matthew McKenzie

Welcome back to another blog by carer, poet and carer activist Matthew McKenzie. I am working on an audiobook of fiction carer stories. These stories focus on the experience of mental health carers.

When I am talking about mental health carers, I am referring to friends or mainly someone in the family caring for a relative.

The stories are from the audiobook “Providing Carer & Other Short Stories”, the audiobook will contain 20 short stories focusing on the struggles unpaid carers face, young carer challenges, discrimination ethnic carers may face and overall raising that awareness.

I have now released the 2nd short story called “Digging out of a hole“, which can be watched off my YouTube channel below. The story is how a young man struggles to face up to the role of being a mental health carer.

Carers and learning about online resources

Welcome to my online site that focuses on unpaid carers. The site usually focuses on those caring for someone with a mental illness. This particular blog is on access to online learning resources.

The world is changing, since the 2019 pandemic, many more online learning resources e.g. access to help and advice, benefit info, event info and even carer groups have all most online. What if the carer struggles with the computer? what if the carer does not know how to join online groups?

It was a struggle to access online resources before the pandemic, but it still is a challenge. Some good news, Lewisham Carers Hub have received funding to allow carers to learn about computers and accessing online information. Please see the poster below

Providing Care – Carer Audio story by Matthew McKenzie

Welcome to another blog post by carer Matthew Mckenzie who raises awareness of mental health carers as an Author, activist and poet. I have been quite busy working on several books, although for this particular blog I am focusing on how my audiobook is developing. This audiobook is called “Providing Care & other short stories”.

You can actually watch my first carer story at the end of the blog.

The audiobook will contain 20 short stories focusing on the experience and challenges of those caring for someone suffering mental illness. Each story will raise common themes mental health carers face, e.g. the anxiety of suddenly falling into the caring role, dealing with carer or mental health stigma, clashes with confidentiality, discrimination and misunderstandings, Young carers, minority and ethnic carers and more. There will be plenty other themes I will be raising regarding unpaid carers.

The first story providing care focuses on a young woman who suddenly falls into providing care, even if she thinks she is not a carer. I do not go and outright tell readers and listeners what is going on, I want them to discover the themes themselves and let me know what they have found out.

A lot of audio stories will be changed into video stories, depends how much time I have on my plate. I am still busy writing the stories and working on a story about a woman in a same sex partnership, unfortunately LGBTQ partnerships can still be driven into mental illness. A lot of the stories I write are quite dark, but those stories do need to be told.

Let us focus on the story Providing Care.

The story tells of a young women named Shelia caught unaware when her husband Tom begins to act strangely. Shelia becomes concerned, confused and wondering what to do next. She is thrown into a situation she has not been trained for as her world turns upside down.

It is not long before Shelia tries to save what is left of her relationship by doing all that she can, but can this be enough?

The story “Providing Care” highlights the sudden realisation of falling into unpaid care, there is little preparation if any at all. You can actually watch the draft of this the story for free by clicking the link below…..Enjoy!!

Top 10 things unpaid carers struggle with

Welcome back to another carer blog post by Matthew McKenzie carer activist and author in London.

I thought to try promote carer causes and focus on things that I reckon carers struggle with. As usual when I am talking about carers, I am talking about caring for someone in the family or as a friend.

Embed from Getty Images

Whether a person is caring out in the community or visiting the person they care for in hospital, there are challenges people need to take note of.

Here is a list down below

  1. Isolation – Caregivers can often feel cut off from the outside world, especially if caring, hard to understand
  2. Emotionl strain – Taking care of a loved one and being responsible for their health can be very stressful. depression, guilt, sleep loss.
  3. Financial situation – This struggle can cause all sorts of stress, the financial burden felt by caregivers should not be overlooked.
  4. How Caring can impact on opportunities – if your caring, then you are not earning or developing other skill bases. Still caring can develop it’s own skill base.
  5. identification as a carer – people do not always see themselves as a carer, but can lose out on support
  6. Getting access to support – respite, advocacy, emotional support, planning for the future
  7. Strains on Relationships – caring can be a joyful experience, but also stressful, lack of time for friends or family
  8. Being involved in care – confidentiality, jargon in NHS, relationship breakdowns, sometimes being missed in identification. These things can cause the carer to be uninvolved.
  9. Advocating for the cared for – need to deal with GPs, social workers, pharmacists, care agencies, receptionists and so on.
  10. Not being able to Focus on themselves – most of the previous things mentioned focus on the struggles carers face when caring, but too much focus can cause the carer to loose sight of their own well being. It is important to take time out, sleep, talk to a friend. Not easy if caring in crisis.

If you want a more detailed explanation I have also made a video below.

Providing care & other short stories update for January

Welcome back to another blog post by former mental health carer matthew mckenzie. I am also an author, poet, carer activist and faciliator of carer groups. This blog is going to be a bit of an update on how my new audiobook development is getting along.

The audiobook is called “Providing care & other short stories”. This new audiobook is about the experience of care provided by families to someone suffering mental illness. The audiobook will be my first attempt at fiction, although to be fair I have done some fiction before mainly through blog posts.

The short story titles are as follows (titles subject to change)

  1. Providing Care
  2. Digging out of a hole
  3. A family Affair
  4. Never thought it would be me
  5. Angry
  6. Just when I needed you
  7. A story of Hope
  8. Discriminated
  9. View from the other side
  10. Communication
  11. Banding together
  12. Solitude
  13. Its my right
  14. Wellbeing
  15. Empowerment
  16. Former Carer
  17. Trying to make sense of it all
  18. Young carer
  19. If Only
  20. Until the end

Since the short stories are about providing unpaid care, expect some dark subject content in these stories. The stories might be fiction, but I did want to add some realism. Within each of the stories, there are challenging things that happen to the carers or I could say families and friends. These would be not knowning what to do when someone becomes unwell, encounters with professionals who are not carer aware, struggling with their own mental health and being neglected by health and social care.

It is unfortunate that although many carers do get some level of support, the are those out there going through the same challenges as the carers in my stories

The good news is out of 20 stories, I have finished 4 of the stories. I should pat myself on the back, because I started the project over christmas.

The first story is the main story about providing care, but seen through the carer’s eyes.

The second story is dark with some glimmers of hope when a person is trying to pick up the pieces, but not finding any answers. As the picture shows, there is a mistake as I labelled it

The third story as shown in the picture below shows how not all things are equal in caring

The fourth story regards experiences in the hospital

I am just about to start my fifth story, which is probably quite depressing, but it does open up the struggles of carers and misunderstandings concerning mental illness.

Carer poems – Carers Lewisham culture day 2022

Hello visitors and those providing care or caregiving to someone close. Here is another carer awareness blog from Matthew Mckenzie, carer activist, poet and author from Lewisham.

This blog is about Carers Lewisham Hub’s culture day. Carer centres are a vital part of providing support and services for those giving unpaid care. Carers Lewisham fights hard to identify carers, advocate for them and give as much support as possible.

I often visit the carers centre for their forums and support groups. On the 28th of July 2022, since the borough of Lewisham was the borough of culture. Carers Lewisham was hosting their culture day at their carers centre. A list of activities, networking and events was provided for carers who wanted to feel valued.

We had the game room and Raffle ticket event. Massage for those who have stress, aches and pains. Creative art sessions for those wanting to be……well creative. We also had laughter workshop, book readings and also my poetry reading (more on that later.)

I think most of all, carers who came along to the event wanted to network with others. They wanted to reduce isolation and link up with carers, staff and advocate to get support, information and to feel valued.

Since my poetry book “The Poetry book of mental health caring” was released in July 2022. Carers Lewisham was kind enough to offer me a poetry workshop. It is well known that over time, poetry can contribute to forms of culture. Most if not all my poems focus on the aspect of the caring experience. The poems look to raise the awareness of those providing mental health care. That means providing unpaid care to someone suffering mental illness.

At the book reading and poetry workshop, we had other carers reading from their poems which they have developed. Tess read a wonderful poem and also Brenda.

I ran my workshop by reading a poem and then asking others to also choose a poem to read. We then reflected on the meaning and definitions of those poems. You can see the video of my poetry workshop below.