Category Archives: Carers Lambeth MH Forum

Lambeth MH Carers Forum update February 2020

20140710_143445Here is the update from the Lambeth Mental Health carers forum. The forum is run over at Brixton 336 building hosted by Lambeth Carers Hub.

Carers’ Hub Lambeth is an independent local charity based in Brixton. They offer advice, information, emotional support, signposting, peer support groups and events to unpaid carers of Lambeth. I often attend their MH carers support groups. Without Lambeth carers hub, many carers in the borough would feel isolated, abandoned and having to cope through a crisis.

The Lambeth MH carers forum aim is to bring Mental Health carers together to inform, educate, offer some form of empowerment in their role to engage with health and social care services.

The main agenda for February was engagement due to worrying concerns about the closure of Lambeth hospital. Some carers are fine that some action will be taken by SLaM (South London & Maudsley), because they feel some wards on the hospital are not fit for purpose. Other carers are not sure what is going on and are happy to attend in order to be informed and feel part of the discussion.

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Some carers from the Southwark area are worried development will further reduce needed space to access services. There are many reasons why unpaid carers need some form of engagement, so we hope the forum can offer some dedicated insight that SLaM takes the views of families and carers seriously.

We had hoped the Service director for Lambeth Hospital would be free to engage with us, but he was unable to make it, although members had a very lengthy and informative discussion about the consultation process regarding Lambeth hospital.

The forum also is awaiting a visit from Kings college hospital NHS trust MH lead regarding the trusts Mental Health Strategy. I have noticed many Acute NHS trusts developing mental health strategies, but members are worrying if there is consultation with carers in the boroughs regarding established forums and groups.

Gavin Smith the MH lead for Kings College hospital could not make both carer forums, but he did manage to attend the Southwark MH carer forum the next day, which was brilliant and showed how much dedication he has in putting mental health at the heart of the NHS trust. I will report the Southwark MH carers forum update soon.

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The Lambeth MH carers forum was kindly co-chaired by myself and another carer who is learning more about the NHS, mental health services and the obligation of social care services. She presented the minutes from the last forum very well.

The carers forum discussed carer awareness at GP centers in the borough of Lambeth and if carer registers are kept up to date, or even if GP surgeries have them, we hope there is engagement from Lambeth Carers Hub towards GP practices in Lambeth.

We also discussed the mental health strategy from Guys and St Thomas NHS Trust as that trust is very busy linking with both the Lambeth and Southwark MH carer forums. There has been some great news as both trusts are inviting carers to involvement in order to raise carer voices even more. I am very impressed with both Kings and GSTT NHS trusts as they have made it clear to work in partnership with the community.

Both NHS trusts MH strategies and Carer strategies will take some reading, but at least there is some way to hold the trusts to account as members get worried if no plan of action is in place or if there are no policies.

Guys and St Thomas NHS Trust are back again over at the Southwark MH carers forum later this year. The forum also discussed updates on Lambeth Healthwatch questionnaire, which I believe is still in development.

I also updated the forum on my plans for the other forums I do and hope other carers have a chance to get educated on the complex system of MH care, health care along with the duties of social care. Plus I updated the forum on CarersUK developments with their new ‘Learning for living’ app and their ‘State of care’ Survey.

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This concludes the February update for the Lambeth MH carers forum.

Lambeth MH Carers Forum update January 2020

20140710_143445Welcome to my first forum update for the new year. The first forum is the Lambeth Mental Health carer forum, which took place over at Brixton 336 on the 23rd of January 2020. The Lambeth carers forum exists to give unpaid carers a chance to know what Health and Social services are doing for them and also what those services have planned.

Lambeth has some of the highest rates of mental health problems in the country and perhaps even further, it is important carers come together and ask why this is the case and what are the authorities doing about it. As you might already know, South London & Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust cover the mental health services in Lambeth and also in Lewisham, Croydon and Southwark, so he forum seeks to engage with the Mental Health Trust over the coming year.

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More importantly, there are other NHS trusts serving the community in Lambeth and we had the opportunity to have Guy’s and St Thomas NHS trust Mental Health lead engage with the forum, more on this later.

The January forum was very well attended and word is spreading about the importance of the Lambeth MH carers forum, with the help of Lambeth Carers hub, unfortunately the forum took place at the same time of the SLaM carers committee, so some members had to send apologies.

At the start of the forum, we took time to go through the minutes of the last forum which was held over at Moasic Clubhouse. The forum was attended by Helen Hayes Labour candidate for Dulwich and West Norwood and also Lambeth Healthwatch who are seeking consultation from Carers on the future of Lambeth Hospital. There was a lot of discussion from the updates from the last forum.

Next we had a presentation from Caroline Sweeney who is the Mental Health Lead for Guys & St Thomas NHS Trust. You might not already know, but Acute NHS Trusts tend to develop, renew or plan mental health strategies, however both Kings NHS trust, SLaM NHS Trust and Guys & St Thomas NHS trust are working on their Carer’s Strategies as well. If you are a carer or are lucky enough to attend a carers forum, certainly inquire if your hospital trust is working on either or both policies and strategies, especially carer engagement/involvement policies.

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For the Lambeth MH carer forum, Caroline updated us on G&STT Mental Health strategy. The strategy was not developed in isolation as the trust held six workshops in the past via the hospital and its community sites.

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Their external workshop had a range of stakeholders including Service Users and carers, London Ambulance service other MH Trusts, CCG’s, Black Thrive, Oasis and Papyrus (youth suicide prevention), Lambeth Alliance and more.

Their Strategy contained many important sections being

Developments and Good Practice.
Linking to National Drivers.
Objectives of the Strategy.
Overview on Patients, People and Partnerships.

There were more, but due to limited time, we could only cover a few areas off the presentation.

GSTT Developments and Good Practice

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The plans and targets for GSTT are

  • Improving partnership working with South London and Maudsley NHS Trust
  • Delivery of training across in-patient and community services
  • Development of improved assessment processes for district nursing
  • Improve experience of patients who receive Enhanced care
  • Development of primary care hub for adolescents
  • Implementation of the Children and Young People Healthy Partnership (CYPHP), probably due to GSTT children’s hospital (Evelina London Children’s Hospital).
  • Mind & Body and IMPARTS service
  • GSTT psychology service

Linking to National Drivers

  • GSTT Long term plan is to
  • Increase Mental Health Liaison capacity e.g. specialised MH nurses in Accute wards
  • Equipping Ambulance staff to deal with MH crisis
  • Importance of improving child and adolescent MH care
  • Commitment to reducing National Suicide rates (Zero Suicide national driver).

Other drivers

GSTT also have internal drivers mentioned in their MH Strategy.

  • These drivers were from audits and reports about Liaison teams and children services experiencing an increase in referrals, this was especially noted in A&E departments and long waiting times for those experiencing MH crisis are not helping.

GSTT Mental Health Strategy Vision and Objectives

A MH Strategy would not be much without its Vision and Objectives.

  • GSTT seeks to improve quality of care that it delivers to Patients, carers and families living with serious mental illness.
  • GSTT also seeks to support patients with long term physical health conditions and manage their MH needs
  • GSTT seeks to ensure their workforce has the right skills, knowledge and attributes to care for patients, their carers and families dealing with MH needs.

There were other things discussed in regards to GSTT MH Strategy, that due to time I have not mentioned in this blog post.

GSTT and carers

  • We did not have GSTT carers engagement on their carers strategy, but Caroline did cover some part of that stategy, that being the introduction of Carers Passport to identify carers.
  • Use of Carer network study days
  • Dementia specific Carer days (which is still under development).
  • Continued work on Alzheimer’s society and Dementia UK.
  • There is more in the pipeline regarding how GSTT engages with Families and carers, but the above is a start.

The rest of the forum was discussing on the rota for chairing the meeting and future attendees for the Lambeth MH carers forum. Many hope for the Helen can update the forum regarding carers later on in the year and for other MPs to engage with the group. Other members want engagement from Lambeth leads who run social services.

This concludes the update from the Lambeth MH Carers forum for January.

Joint Lambeth & Southwark MH Carers Forum update November 2019

Southwark & Lambeth MH Forum 28-11-19Welcome back to a quick update from another Mental Health Carer forum. This one was a joint forum since due to the election candidates had to cover many areas to campaign and it was harder for them to visit each forum.

On Thursday the 28th of November, we had our Joint Southwark and Lambeth MH carer forum, which was held over at Moasic Clubhouse during the morning. The host for the joint forum was Carers Hub Lambeth who do an amazing amount of work for unpaid carers in the borough of Lambeth.

A bit more about Carers Hub Lambeth. Carers’ Hub Lambeth is an independent local charity based in Brixton, They seek to limit the dilemma’s placed on carers by two key ways. One way is by working with carers directly, and the other by influencing the local services and policies that affect them. Hence this is why we built up the Lambeth MH carers forum, which has been running quite a few years now.

We were also jointed by unpaid carers from Southwark Carers and a bit about them.

Southwark Carers try to make it easier for Carers to have a life outside of caring by 3 key areas, this is by Enabling, empowering and enriching the lives of carers in the London Borough of Southwark. Southwark Carers enabling service is a flexible, individual, personalised service offering support on a one-to-one, plus their empowering service provides carers with information and knowledge of their rights and lastly they help in enriching unpaid carers lives by offering leisure activities or by helping them return to training, education or work.

I was very proud that both groups of unpaid carers came together from both boroughs to be heard on issues affecting carers from the two boroughs.

About the forums

Both Southwark and the Lambeth MH carer forums work the same way as the Lewisham and the Lewisham BAME MH carer forums. The forum is not much of a support group (those are a different and complex animal), they are mean’t to empower unpaid carers who are active in connecting with other carers and the community. The way mental health services are run are complex and also a mystery. These services affect unpaid carers regardless of what anyone thinks. Unpaid carers should be empowered to know what is going on and why. Even then, that is not enough. Unpaid carers should be involved and not be a tickbox or an afterthought.

Where it took place

As mentioned, the joint forum took place at Moasic Clubhouse, which supports people who are living with a mental health condition in the London Borough of Lambeth. Mosaic’s approach is built on the internationally-recognised Clubhouse model , which embeds coproduction between staff and members throughout all activities.

On the day Helen Hayes (candidates for Dulwich & West Norwood in the 2019 general election) visited and engaged with both patients, staff and carer groups to here about the good work they do and listen to burning issues or questions. Helen has been a long promoter of both carer forums and she has visited and engaged with both the Southwark and Lambeth MH carer forums several times already. She works tirelessly to represent the community and often checks up on how things are getting along.

Why it is important to have relations to MPs and candidates

I often felt that carers have a really tough time getting mental health services or the local authority to listen to their issue, which is why when unpaid carers get together, they should have a link to government representatives and a lot more. If there are forces that wish to drown out an unpaid carer concerns, then there is always a risk many would seek to avoid or limit the groups activities. Its not that unpaid carers want to moan or complain, its just they wish to be heard and be counted.

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As a bonus on why it is important for unpaid carers to get a voice in government circles. I have included Carers UK Manifesto on the General Election in the Link below and also Carers Trust’s Think Carer 2019 pledge.

Carers UK Manifesto 2019

Carers Trust 2019 Pledge

Discussions and agenda at the joint carer forum

You will have to forgive me as I completely forgot my notebook, so I did not note anything down.

I had built up the forums to help empower unpaid carers, so I was really happy to see another carer chair such an important meeting and I really hope many will talk about how impressed they were with her.

Helen briefed us on how Labour will strive hard to get the unpaid carer’s voice heard. Labour will strive to work on the Mental Health Act 1983 amendments, but she also mentioned that through years of austerity services had struggled, which in turn lead to difficulty in unpaid carers lives.

I mentioned to Helen my role at the Royal College of Nursing due to the amount of pressures placed on student nurses and nursing in general, we really hope the government will seek to support not just patients, but nurses and unpaid carers. The NHS has taken blow after blow due to lack of foresight and lack of investment, although the intention has been good, intention alone is not enough and too often the social care angle has been kicked down the road.

I have also added RCN’s Safe Staffing Saves Lives link below.

Safe Staffing Saves Lives

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Up for discussion was also the impact of the Care Act 2014 as many unpaid carer was left wondering, what difference has it made since more services were drawn into the local authority and grassroots carer charities have been striped of their power, were funding has been cut and staff at carer centers told to do more. From what I have noticed, it has been a complex web of bureaucracy and deceit where heads and directors of social care are not engaging with groups and make decisions without hearing the stories of those affected by those decisions.

Many unpaid Mental Health carers are wondering what bite does the Care Act 2014 have, when very few are aware what it is meant to do, which probably it is aimed to highlight and protect carers rights.

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There have been situations and stories where the Local Authority gang up with mental health services and push the family or carer out of involvement for the cared for. It is like the carer is not a professional in their own right and the law see’s it that way. Nevermind the peer support, services can and often collude with each other to drown out the struggles the carer or ‘cared for’ may have, which is why we as a group look to the politicians to not only represent us at government, but bring us along in the journey.

If things go wrong or nothing gets settled, then we carers are a patient lot, but we must try and try and try again using different methods.

Lambeth Carers Strategy

Up also for debate was the Lambeth Council’s Carer’s Strategy and how things were forming on the councils responsibility to its unpaid carers.  I have always been a firm promoter that local authorities engage with carers on what they are doing for carers.  It is not enough to assume strategies are too hard or complex for unpaid carers to get involved in.    Even if the carers strategy does not amount to much, at least it raises awareness of unpaid carers and is a way to hold the council to account.  There will be an update on Lambeth’s Carer strategy next year, but I am interested on how other council’s strategies are developing or if they are non-existent.

Lambeth Healthwatch

One method was through Healthwatch, which works to ensure local people’s voices count when it comes to shaping and improving local health and social care services. As with Lewisham Healthwatch, the joint forum was joined by Lambeth Healthwatch due to the proposal of the closure of Lambeth hospital.

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The discussions were well thought out and there was alarm among unpaid carers about the distance and proximity of services moving to Southwark. Even when Lambeth has very high rates of mental illness in the borough we feel there has not been the paper trail of consultations and get the feeling that the Lambeth hospital closure is a done deal. Many still understand that the hospital is not fit for purpose, but cannot understand why Southwark is slowly draining access to services away from Lambeth.

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There was a lot more in the discussion, which unfortunately I cannot remember now, but Lambeth Healthwatch will certainly take this back to the council and CCG. We await updates in the new year. We as a forum continue to seek a relationship with the Healthwatches and other parties including the CCGs, we do not want to make life hard for the decision makers, but we do need to be involved, empowered and heard on specific issues and queries.

No matter what government gets in power, we as unpaid carers will strive to get our voices heard due to the nature of our cause and struggles. It is only fair that what we do for the love of our ‘cared for’ and the ‘community’ that we should not be ignored.

Lambeth MH Carers Forum update October 2019

20140710_143445Welcome to the October update of one of the 4 carer engagement forums I either promote and chair. This particular forum is over in Lambeth and kindly hosted by Lambeth Carers hub.

Carers’ Hub Lambeth is an independent local charity based in Brixton. They are there to relieve the stresses experienced by unpaid carers who live in or care for somebody living in Lambeth. This also includes those carers trying to care for someone suffering from mental illness, although I will use the term suffering lightly since some service users feel there is strength in at least fighting through mental health.

The Lambeth Mental Health Carers forum is a platform for carers to come together, discuss and engage with services. It is important for unpaid carers to have that relationship with community, social and mental health services. Carers need to have that space where they are empowered to ask why certain service provision is the way it is.

Most times unpaid carers are satisfied with the answers they get. Other times, such answers lead to more questions and some questions might even go so far to be quite complex. It is not enough for unpaid carers to tell their stories time and time again. Carers should be encouraged to point their noses into things that affect the carer’s journey.

For the October forum, we had Rebecca Martland visit us. She is doing a Research project on ‘Feasibility of high intensity interval training in improving physical and mental health in inpatients with severe mental illness’. Yes, it is a long title, but the project is critically important because so many patients suffer from physical ill health due to inactivity and having difficultly finding someone to provide mentoring in physical health training.

Rebecca Martland who is a researcher from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience leads on this research. The IOPPN is a research institution dedicated to discovering what causes mental illness and diseases of the brain. In addition, its aim is to help identify new treatments for them. Rebecca also works for South London & Maudsley, where the IOPPN is in partnership with SLaM.

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Rebecca  wants to run more Focus groups with inpatients with SMI, carers of patients with SMI and staff to scope perceptions of attitudes and practicalities of the HIIT study.

It was great for Rebecca not only to have attended the Southwark MH carers forum, but also engage with carers from the Lambeth MH carers forum in the same month, which I admire greatly. I was happy to also hear some carers have signed up to her focus group to give ideas on the research.

The forum then spent some time going through last month’s minutes, which had been drawn up by James Holdcroft from Carers Hub Lambeth. James had done a brilliant job recording difficult meetings and helping us members keep focus on issues raised.

We discussed a few things from the minutes, one being the consultation on what will happen to Lambeth Hospital, others discussions where on SLaM’s patient record system and also discussions about carers assessments and tracking the numbers of unpaid carers in the borough Lambeth.

Next up at the Lambeth MH carers forum was Robert Stebbings the Policy and Communications Officer from Adfam. Robert was here to update the forum on the work Adfam has been doing throughout the year, specially with families and carers.

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Adfam is the national charity working to improve life for families affected by drugs or alcohol. They work heavily with families caring for someone affected by drugs or alcohol. Their vision is allowing those affected by addiction to have the chance to benefit from healthy relationships, be part of a loving and supportive family and enjoy mental and physical wellbeing.

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Adfam do a lot of campaigning and policy work. Off their site it was amazing to see how many groups their CEO was working with, those being.

  • The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs
  • Commission on domestic and sexual violence and multiple disadvantage
  • Mentor-ADEPIS steering group
  • Safer gambling campaign advisory panel
  • Manchester Metropolitan University’s substance use and end-of-life care steering group.

One of the members of the Lambeth MH Carers forum had even been involved with Adfam visiting parliament to discuss the latest initiatives on addiction, which I was very proud to hear carers working hard to be heard.

Robert spoke about the difficulties Drug, alcohol and addiction can cause to families.

Those being

  • Financial Impact
  • Constant worry and anxiety on families affected
  • Bereavement, especially when addiction leads to someone taking their life
  • The problems of trust and denial.
  • Isolation
  • Impact on wellbeing and health
  • Feeling no light at the end of the tunnel
    ….and other life-changing impacts on families.

Robert also explained to the forum about the issues of stigma, which goes hand in hand when someone is suffering from addiction, as although addiction is recognized as mental ill health, a lot of people still see such behaviour as a matter of choice.

Plus he discussed what Peer Support and Advocacy groups Adfam have been providing and how they work.

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We were told how families and carers felt the following issues were a difficult path to navigate being,

Confidentiality
Loved one not honest with professionals or the nature of their problems
Service cuts and configurations
Plus families having to keep pushing the benefits of care involvement to professionals.

You can find out more about Adfam from their link below.

https://adfam.org.uk/

The members of the Lambeth MH carers forum discussed how the Carers UK conference went and were pleased I had a presence there. There was a request that I do a presentation on engaging with GP’s. The members are also very excited about next month’s visit from by the MP Helen Hayes. They probably are interested in what is being done for mental health in the borough of Lambeth and updates on how the borough of Lambeth & Southwark is supporting unpaid carers.

Lambeth ‘Carers Voices’ September update

Thanks for stopping by my carer website. This is an update from the Lambeth area. Did you know that Carers Hub Lambeth has several forums? I managed to attend their ‘Carers Voices’ forum which is held at We Are 336 in Brixton on Thursday Sept 19th 10.30 am – 12.00 pm.

So what is Carers Hub Lambeth?

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Carers’ Hub Lambeth is an independent local charity based in Brixton. They are there to reduce the stresses experienced by unpaid carers who live in or care for somebody living in Lambeth. They advocate, refer and provide a wellbeing and empowering resource for carers in the borough.

For the Carers Hub Lambeth forum, we were joined by Stephanie who is busy working on Kings College NHS trust’s Carers strategy. As you know that NHS trust is massive with at least several other hospital sites from the Princess Royal University Hospital in Kent to King’s College Hospital Clinics in the middle east to along with a wide range of NHS services, some I have listed below.

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Acute and emergency care
Critical care, radiology and MEP (medical engineering and physics)
Dental
Haematology and precision medicine
Liver and renal
Neurosciences
Pharmacy
Planned surgery, ophthalmology and optometry
Post-acute, planned medicine and outpatients
Theatres and anaesthetics
Therapy, rehabilitation and allied clinical services
Women’s health

and much more…..

However something critical is missing? Although not all patients may need family support, there is a lack of focus on how the NHS trust involves and incorporates carers. This is why Kings College NHS trust has been engaging with carer groups and forums from Lambeth to Southwark. I was amazed Stephanie from Kings remembered me when she used to work for Lewisham Healthwatch, since I spend a lot of time engaging with the healthwatches (I am sure they must be fed up for me). Still, this is great news that a hospital has managed to employ someone with such a strong engagement background.

We had many detailed and focused suggestions from carers at the forum. Plus we were provided with how the Trust looks to take on the new Carers Passport, which helps to identify carers and gives access to other resources that are useful for families and carers. Guys & St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust also provide the carers passport, but might be developing a few other things for families and carers.

After the consultation, the forum were presented with updates from the Lambeth PPG network. We looked into the use of online appointments and digital health applications. There was a good discussion on how carers can influence their GP surgery to provide better engagement and support for carers providing support to a patient.

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It is important carers query how GP surgeries are doing in the borough of Lambeth and if the doctor’s practice even have a Patient Participation Group. This concludes my update for the Lambeth’s Carers Voices forum until the Lambeth Mental Health carers forum

Lambeth MH Carers Forum update August 2019

Welcome to the August update of the Lambeth Mental Health Carers forum. As a reminder the Mental Health carers forums are not primarily focused on discussing mental health benefits, but are aimed at carers supporting those with mental health needs. The forum usually has organisation who either provide mental health services, commission them or oversee the services e.g. Lambeth Council, South London & Maudsley, Lambeth CCG and Lambeth healthwatch besides others.

For the August forum we were fortunate to members and representatives from Maudsleys Older Adults and Dementia Advisory group. They presented to the forum what the group does over at South London & Maudsley and how they work with unpaid carers who are caring for those suffering Dementia, Alzheimers, Parkinson and so forth.

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Before I continue on with a brief update of the work of the older adults Clinical Academic Group, we also had on the August agenda the following.

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Lambeth MH Carers Forum update September 2018

20140710_143445Welcome to the latest update from the lambeth mental health carers forum. The Lambeth mental health carers forum seeks to engage and involve carers who provide care and support to those with mental health needs. When I say mental health carers I am talking about those who are unpaid, I am not talking about care workers.

 

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