Tag Archives: southwark

Southwark MH Carers Forum June 2018

Dg3QQzpUYAAo2uyWelcome to June 2018 update from the Southwark mental health carers forum. As a reminder the mint of carers forums give unpaid carers in care for someone suffering mental health needs a chance to get updates and query mental health services and also services aimed at unpaid carers. One of the things that is important to note is that the forms allow empowerment to unpaid carers.

For this particular form over at Southwark carers, we were lucky to have the Labour MP helen Hayes attend the forum to present a new report published jointly by the Health & Social Care and the Housing, Communities & Local Government Select Committees on the long term funding of adult social care.

At the forum we all admitted that the social care system is broken. There are quite a few reasons why social care is struggling to support those in desperate need. One of the things that has been causing a lot of problems is the austerity effect. We felt that the current government seems to be dragging its heels on supporting and protecting the rights of unpaid carers.

If that wasn’t hard enough we have a double blow in regards to the ‘cared for’ where hospitals are struggling with funding, delayed hospital discharges, difficulty with mental health patients getting support and the rotating door system. All of this applies added pressure on families and unpaid carers who are trying their best to care for their loved ones.

Comforting friend. Woman consoling her sad friend.

The select committee which Helen Hayes is a member of is a cross party initiative that includes a Citizens jury. The committee looked at funding and who should fund social care. The committee also queried what social care should look like.

Too often the poorest in Society are asked to pay for social care that cannot often reach them. Above all they should be transparency not just in social care but within the NHS. It is so important that families and carers are given the support in order to care for their loved ones rather than being pushed out by care workers.

The forum also discussed the integrated social care system where are the city of Manchester has set an example for others to follow.


The MP felt glad that such a forum is up and running since she felt the current government has failed to give unpaid carers a voice and she will do all she can in order to support the mental health carers forum. We also discussed carers assessments and who should attend the forum.  Unfortunately Southwark Council representatives were due to attend the forum, but were unaware the time had changed.

In future we can send out posters where the MPs can help publicise and support the forum.

MH Forum V2

This concludes the update for June 2018 Southwark mental health carers forum.

Southwark MH Carers Forum May 2018


Here is the update from the forum I run after the BME MH Carer/SU forum in the afternoons.  This forum is aimed at unpaid carers in the borough of Southwark, although mental health professionals are free to attend.

The May carer forum was very well attended with representatives from Southwark CCG, Southwark Healthwatch, Kings Health Partners and nurses from the Southwark inpatient acute wards.

At the start of the forum I presented what a mental health carer is, that being basically an unpaid carer supporting someone with mental health needs.

We then had Eliza Hinchliffe presenting on Kings Health Partners project ” Mind and Body Programme”

She presented on the new Mind and Body programme, which is a Kings Health Partners initiative between Guys&St Thomas, Kings College Hospital and SLaM. The Mind & Body programme looks to close the gap between mental health needs and physical health needs.


The forum discussed ways engagement can be made with carers in mind. There is an offer to promote the forum via the hospitals in Southwark, which means families and Carers can link up on what is going on.

The forum hoped to have Mick Wright Turner – Head of PMIC Southwark Pathway, but he was unavailable.  However we were very impressed that nurses from the Mental Health unit attended the forum to speak about the carers pathway progress.

Next up to present was Karen Clarke who is the mental health lead at Southwark CCG. The forum is particularly interested in collaborating with her regarding updates on mental health services in the borough of Southwark, especially services that needs to give more thought/involvement and engagement about families and carers.

Karen spoke about her role and an introduction about Southwark’s mental health strategy. There will also be a IAPTs review,  the Southwark wellbeing hub review and more updates.  The forum spent some time comparing it to Lambeth’s Mosaic clubhouse. The forum would like southwark CCG to help promote what we do and let carers know there is a place to be heard.  Karen aims to continually engage with the forum, so carers and carer champions can be involved and spread the word.

Next was Southwark Healthwatch updating on projects regarding carers?


Southwark Healthwatch spoke about their new initiative to engage with carers about mental health services.

The engagement officers took the time to ask carers on what they think would be a mental health crisis and where would the carers take their loved one during a crisis and would like to interview carers about mental health services in the borough of Southwark.


The forum again would like Southwark Healthwatch to help promote the forum, which Healthwatch agreed via their community board.

The next part of the forum looked into engagement requests Updates

There was a very short discussion on meeting the MP Neil Coyle, the MP has helped promote the forum and there will be a Southwark MH event in Parliament with members of the forum talking about why such a forum is needed.  All members noted that this will bring much needed awareness of what carers are trying to do while being empowered to do so.

Members are also excited that MP Helen Hayes is due to visit the forum in June.

Lastly we had an update from Carers involved in SLaM Foundation Trust

I have been helping train staff on the wards, one ward was actually done over at the Maudsley, this is in regards to carers & confidentiality. The training is being done with help from the trusts Modern Matrons.

Another member of the forum attended NHS England’s conference and raised if their 5 year plan includes try Triangle of Care.

This concludes the update for the Southwark MH Carers forum, stay tuned for the Lewisham carers forum update and also the Lambeth Carers forum update.


Some journeys are fun in the dark

20150620_234208Welcome to another blog post by Matthew Mckenzie a Carer from the London borough of Lewisham. For this blog post, I want to write about a fun event I attended. This event was a walk, which took place on the 20th of June starting late at night till the 21st on sunday morning. The event was a fun filled, healthy and educational.

This walk I took part in was called the Largactyl Midnight Summer Solastice walk, which usually lasts around 5 hours. This walk was held by Cooltan Arts. Cooltan Arts is an Arts and Mental Health Charity based in London and they have been doing walks around the city for around 6 or 7 years. The walks are free to join, but donations are welcome.

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Review on Healthwatch Southwark “Social Care” Event

Welcome to another blog post from my carers blog site. As usual I sometimes check out events to do with Mental Health, wellbeing events and carer’s events. I do not mind feeding back what I have picked up from these events. So on the Tuesday 22nd July over at Cambridge House in the London Borough of Southwark.

I decided to check out Southwark Healthwatch event on ” What’s happening in Social Care in Southwark – now and in the future?”.


The event lasted from 4:00 pm till 6:30 pm and there was lots on offer, plus plenty of time to contribute and get our views across. Before I continue, you may wonder what on earth is Healthwatch all about?

Healthwatch helps to give people a powerful voice locally and nationally. At a local level, local Healthwatch will work to help local people get the best out of their local health and social care services. Whether it’s improving them today or helping to shape them for tomorrow.

Healthwatch is the independent consumer champion created to gather and represent the views of the public. Healthwatch plays a critical role at both national and local level and will make sure that the views of the public and people who use services are taken into account.

Each borough across the UK has its own Healthwatch and not all Healthwatches have the same problems or work the same way, but their main focus is getting the people’s views via the right channels and helping sign post people to the correct health organisations. Healthwatch also a lot more than what I have mentioned, but please check out Healthwatch Southwark‘s site when you have time.

So going back to the event on “Social Care in Southwark”, what was in store?

Social Care Event

Luckily we were told the agenda before the event, plus copies of the agenda were placed nearly on the tables. I must admit, even though I could not get any shots of people in the audience. The event was well attended, I think around 60 to 70 people came to the event. Quite a few of them being active members for their organisation. Here is a list of representations at the event.  I have also taken the time to add a link of each organisations site.

Community Action Southwark – Umbrella group for voluntary sector groups in the borough.
Healthwatch Southwark – Here to make sure your views on local health and social care services are heard.
Local residents – Residents of Southwark who attended the event.
Metropolitan – Might be reps from the police.
Lambeth and Southwark MIND –  Independent charity run by people who have personal experience of using mental health services.
Anchor –  Provide a range of housing support for older residents in Southwark and beyond.
Blackfriars Settlement – Multi-faceted educational charity operating in North Southwark
SLaM – South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust
Southwark Council – Council to Southwark Residents
Cambridge House – provide both a Law Centre offers confidential advice, assistance and representation.
Southwark Carers –  provides information, advice and support to Carers across the borough.
Cooltan Arts –  mental health and arts charity that believes mental well-being is enhanced by the power of creativity.
Southwark Irish Pensioners Project – Provide a lifeline to hundreds of elderly, vulnerable and isolated Irish people in Southwark
Southwark Deaf Group – Support for Deaf People around most daily living issues.
Latin American Disabled People’s Project – Run by and for disabled Spanish and Portuguese speaking people living in London.
Eritrean Orthodox Church and Community Centre – Eritrean Orthodox Christian Community Church.
Latin American UK forum – Helps support Latin American’s living in the UK.
Southwark Disablement Association – SDA is an organisation of people with seen and unseen disabilities which supports disabled people
Latin American Womens Rights Service – supports Latin American women in the UK
Anjel 2000 – Supports Organisations and Individuals in the Health and Social Care Sector.

If I jump into the agenda of the event. We had the David Cooper who is the Chair of Healthwatch Southwark open the event.

David Cooper

Next was the Manager of Healthwatch Southwark “Alvin Kinch” explain more about what Healthwatch Southwark is all about.

Alvin Kinch

After that, we have the director of social care “Alexandra Laidler” present to us about the challenges and developments of social care services in the borough of Southwark.

Alexandra Laidler

Once the speakers were finished, we then moved onto a quick question and answer session, which was followed by group discussions on a scenario and then each table fed back to the audience on their findings.

After the findings, we then were treated to a free dinner, which was very healthy.

So what I ll do is give a quick break down or pointers from the event.

First David Strong presented on the projects Healthwatch Southwark are doing and what they have been up to during the past 6 months. David also mentioned that while Healthwatch southwark are so busy working on the 4 targets for the people in southwark, these being the following

Access to GP services
Access to Mental Health services
Sexual Health Services, specifically HIV
Social Care


So the last part mentioned being social care was Healthwatch Southwarks aim to get our views and collate them into a report.

David Asked an important question “What happens when individuals do not meet the means-tested threshold to receive care and support”?

How can they pay for social care?

We then had Alvin explain a bit more about what Healthwatch Southwark is about. She went through the following being.


– How Healthwatch listens to people’s voices on matters of health services.
– How Healthwatch Southwark sets up focus groups, which they have been doing throughout the year.
– How Healthwatch visits services.
– They then produce a report on what they find.
– They also visit older people’s services.
– Plus when people contact Healthwatch, Healthwatch southwark can advise or signpost.
– Healthwatch Southwark does “Enter & View” training, but I think also many other healthwatches do this.

During the event, there was a mention of the New care act 2014, which I hope to cover one day.

Next up was Alex Laidler who is the Director of Adult Social Care at Southwark Council. She spoke about how cuts presents a difficult problem for social care services in the London Borough of Southwark. Alex also mentioned more on “The Care Act” and “The Children and families Act”.


Alex spoke on how cuts will drive services to integrate with each other. This is where Southwark Council seeks to develop its Health & Wellbeing Strategy.

Southwark’s Health & Wellbeing Board have set up three priorities in order to deliver better health and care outcomes for the residents of Southwark, which are

– Giving every young person the best start in life
– Building healthier communities
– Improving the experiences of the most vulnerable residents and enabling them to live more independent lives.

Alex moved on to talk about how Southwark council and Southwark’s CCG strategic approach to integration. One of the points raised were how Southwark Council and the CCG have agreed their “Better Care Fund” where £22 million will fund schemes to support people to live at home and avoid hospital and A&E care.

The director of social care for Southwark then highlighted Southwark Council’s Social Care Priorities. I ll point out two being

– Develop diverse, innovative and adaptable health and social care
– Personalised health and social care services that are able to follow a resident through their lifetime.

Alex then talked about Southwark councils objectives for

Older people when it comes to social care.
Mental Health in the social Care setting
objectives for Learning disabilities & Autism.
And also Carers.

I ll point out a few of the objectives mentioned for carers

– Improving information and advice for carers
– Developing an outreach programme to reach carers at an early stage
– Young carers programme to offer support for young carers
– Expanding the provision of personal budgets for carers
– and many more points presented at the event

After Alex’s presentation, we heard quite a few good questions from the audience and representatives.

One question was about how difficult it is to know about personal budgets or even how to get a personal budget if suffering mental health problems.

Another was on how more awareness is needed for the Deaf community, plus the lack of interpreters.

A good question from the reps was on the financial situation of carers in Southwark.

After the Q&A session, there were the “Round the table” discussion. Each of the 7 tables where given around I think up to 3 scenarios focusing on Social Care problems, which we then fed back at the end. I found the discussions quite informative and education, since I admit I do not know much about social care problems.

Here were the points that were fed back at the end of the discussions from each table.

– There can be a problem when it comes to understanding what the person wants regarding social care, a lot can be down to the assessment criteria.
– The council should support and develop deaf people on some services.
– There is far too short time on discharge plans for Mental health users
– People need more control of social care services, there needs to be more choice.
– Social care assessments should be integrated
– carers needs support especially when the caree does not make their own support needs known.
– Discharge plans can and do often go wrong

After the lengthy discussions and feedback session, attendees were treated to a light meal, which I very much appreciated.

So how did I find the Healthwatch Southwark event?

* I felt the information presented at the event was relevant to its issues, but we will have to see how the health services act on the queries and questions.

* I was giving the opportunity to participate and even had the chance to feedback and share my experiences, this is critical to any focus group or event. Such events should be inclusive.

* The event made me understand the importance of giving my views on local health and social care services, if you do not give your views on health services, then its difficult for organisations to measure their effectiveness. Plus being able to give your views on health experiences is empowering, since I am sure that in the past, people were ignored, especially the most vulnerable people in the community.

* I felt my knowledge of Healthwatch has increased and I hope your knowledge about Healthwatch Southwark has increased as well.

* The knowledge of the speakers were very good, although I would have liked just a few more speakers, but I could understand the lack of time allocated at the event.

* The venue being Cambridge House was excellent and I certainly enjoyed the healthy food that was served.


At the end of the event, we congratulated Alvin Kinch on how much she has contributed to Healthwatch and LiNK, she now has moved to a new role with Healthwatch England and I hope Alvin will continue to contributed much more to engaging people’s views on health services.

Well Done Alvin

As a carer I felt it was important to attend Healthwatch events not only to get my voice heard or spread knowledge of the event, but also listen to other people affected by the health services. They have very important things to say and Healthwatch is there to collate their views.

CoolTan Arts Largactyl Shuffle Midnight Walk

On Saturday June 21st 2014, 11.45pm to 5am, Sunday June 22nd 2014
I joined CoolTan Arts on a fun, guided midnight walk through South London.
We stopped along the way for talks and games on ‘mad’ buildings, night working, surrealism and the anxious city.


The walk/event was part of Anxiety Arts Festival London 2014

CoolTan Arts Largactyl Shuffle is a guided, stigma-busting cultural walk, designed to encourage mental and physical well-being, through art, exercise, humor and history.

Although I am a carer of someone suffering mental health difficulties, there is always more room to learn more about mental health and Cooltan’s Largactyl shuffle walks are great to not only learn about mental health, but also about the city of London.

I actually have done a video blog for one of their shuffle walks last year, but I think it was about time I join another walk with them. They are so much fun and its a great adventure. So while I was on the train watching the sun set, I was looking forward to the walk, although I was a little anxious on what to expect on walking at night.

Before I continue this is cooltan’s 8th Largactyl midnight shuffle walk, but what is cooltan all about?


CoolTan Arts believes mental well-being is enhanced by the power of creativity. It’s a charity run by and for adults with mental distress.

They run a varied program of creative workshops from their vibrant arts center in Southwark’s lively Walworth Road, near Elephant & Castle; these include visual arts, textiles, digital arts, video, poetry, and performing arts. Our activities include exhibitions, public art projects and well-being walks which help break down the stigma of mental distress.

As I have mentioned earlier this walk is run in conjunction with the Anxiety Arts Festival London 2014.


The Anxiety Arts Festival 2014 is a new London-wide arts festival, curated by the Mental Health Foundation. Taking place at multiple venues throughout June 2014. The festival explores anxiety, looking at its causes, how it affects all of our lives, and how it can act as a creative force.


So As you may guess this walk had quite a lot to learn about anxiety and mental health not only from what we are being told, but how we experienced the walk.

Oddly enough, I had an argument with someone before I got to the walk, unfortunately London does have people who are homeless most of those of no fault of their own, however on this occasion this person decided to blame me for his problems and an argument ensued, this left me feeling anxious, although I did not know it at the time.


I then calmed down and headed towards the walk and spoke to some people who turned up in order to find out their expectations. Cooltan volunteer walkers and Michelle Barrier the CEO of CoolTan arts explained at around 11:45 pm what the walk was about. They told us about health and safety and we filled in some forms to check our health since some walks can be tiring, but the volunteer walkers tend to walk at a moderate to slow pace in order for people to catch up.

Michelle talked to us about how she had experienced anxiety in the past and felt this walk should not only be about learning what anxiety is, but also about celebrating it by going through places on the walk that might be dark or where we would not usually go at night.

Our first part of the walk stopped past some people’s favorite building the Xmas Tree, where Michelle explained a bit more about the building.


We then walked towards Redcross Way and we were told about someone called Octavia Hill who was responsible for being the first person to develop social housing. Oddly enough thinking about Octavia Hill made me wonder just a bit more about people who are homeless in London, especially those who have mental health problems.


One of the volunteer lead walkers who I think was called “Lou” spoke about the “Winchester Geese” who were prostitutes probably around 1598 onward. This is because they were licensed by the Bishop of Winchester to work within the Liberty of the Clink. This is where such women and many other poor people were buried in a place called Cross Bones off redcross way.

Cross Bones is a post-medieval disused burial ground in The Borough, Southwark, south London.


The more Lou explained about who was buried at the burial site, the more I thought about easy it is for the destitute to become victims of society even in these days, it made me feel anxious and Cooltan kindly handed out notes to people where we could tie them to the gate as thoughts to those who we have lost, I tied one myself.


We continued to walk onward and reached the St George the Martyr Church, which is opposite Borough tube station. We where given a talk by another lead walker called “Tim” about Charles Dickens and how he used to walk the streets of London talking to the poor or down and out about their experiences in London, so he could write about these experiences. We were told the reason why Charles Dickens moved to this place because his dad was in prison and then we began to have fun with our first activity as we split into 8 groups.

Since it was night time, this activity centered on matching the description of what kind of people work at night on to pictures. I watched how each group were solving the puzzle and also talked to some volunteers.


We then walked onward and were told about the “Walkie Talkie” building and how it literally melted a car by reflecting light onto the vehicle.

We continued to walk further on crossing quite a few roads, but I was glad to see the guided walkers helping us cross the roads since it certainly can be dangerous at night. We then walked down the underpass and into the center of the roundabout at the Elephant and Castle spot.

We were then told about Micheal Faraday and the meaning of the reflective building behind us. There were many interesting facts about electromagnetic inventions.


Next Olea who is another go the lead walkers then set us our 2nd activity and this was on each of us in groups discussing what anxiety is and then showing in some form how to combat anxiety. Within my group, I decided to take the lead and explained to the group that to combat anxiety, we can reassure the person who is anxious.

We should do this reassurance by doing a group hug.


Next we walked towards elephant and castle market place where it got very dark and a few of us began to use the free NHS torches provided to us free by cooltan, I did not shine my torch that much, but I did felt anxious of the dark places even though I was in a group. At that point my mind flashed back to where I had an argument with someone homeless person and I wondered if I was shown anxiety before I got on the walk….how interesting, although it did leave me in a bad mood.


We then crossed a road and Michelle Barrier talked to us about the Zebra building and the problem of council housing, she mentioned the large fans at the top of the building, which I never really paid much attention to beforehand. We then walked just a bit further on and we were told that the Labour HQ building used to be situated around the area, I think it was the “John Smith” building.



Within a few minutes a sound rang out, the sound made me feel slight anxious of what it was and I was slightly proud with my quick thinking to record the sound.

After a while we ended up at the Cooltan Art’s HQ on Walworth road where we relaxed after a long walk and heard a bit more about Cooltan Arts activities and how they were formed. Cooltan explained one of their latest project was the Food for mood book and the poetry book which they have for sale.

Talking about poetry, we were treated to some poetry by Peter Cox.


Basically Cooltan main aim is to try keep people suffering mental illness out of hospital with the use of harnessing the power of creativity and art. Another aim of Cooltan is to raise and highlight what mental illness and mental health is, they also help in combating mental health stigma.

After a rest we then continued on with our adventure into the night and passed a building where Charlie Chaplin was born.

We then moved up to Albany road and Michelle Barrier talked about Richard Muzira who used to help Cooltan Arts with filming production.

Richard Muzira, was sadly killed in a cycling accident on Monday 18th November.

The accident, involved a collision with a tipper truck, which took place at the busy junction of Camberwell Road and Albany Road.


Cooltan Arts are hoping to get a memorial for Richard.

We then moved on to Burgess Park were we had another Activity from a lovely Italian lead walker called “AVA”. Her activity involved people standing in a line holding up a letter where we guessed what the letter would form and I think it spelt out something to do with psychiatry.


Ava then continued to talk that each letter also had a meaning on how we work in the city of London and how we need to recognize our own mental health.

We then stopped for a moment to look at the sunrise, however we had some uninvited guests which made me feel a little anxious, because the uninvited guests were a little drunk if you could say, although they did enjoy our walk, perhaps a bit too much. However they then calmed down. Perhaps this happens a lot in the early hours of Sunday morning.


We do not often get to see the sunrise in the morning and it was one of the golden moments of the walk, since we are so busy making a living, thinking of the future, that we forget about present, we forget about now, if we just stop only for the moment, we can feel the beauty of nature.

Our next stop was to at Camberwell green where we stopped at the sculptural bench, created by artist Rossen Daskalov, made from oak timber, the bench design is based on the theme of reconnecting, with each other and with nature. Sited next to the Ginkgo Tree planted by CoolTan Arts to commemorate World Mental Health Day 2011, the bench creates a place of calm contemplation for all to enjoy.


One of the last Cooltan arts lead walkers then talked about the surrealist movement on its idea of the unconscious and its importance of dreams bursting into reality as one of the walkers sat on the bench. She read a lovely poem which I could not capture at the time and she also spoke how the surrealists linked creativity with mental health.

Eventually we ended up at our last destination being the Maudsley hospital, as day light was all around, my anxiousness began to fade as night finally went away, but then also the excitement was gone as well. We were all congratulated for staying with the 5 hour walk and we stopped for our 2nd set of refreshments at the Maudsley Chapel.


My final review of the Cooltan walk is that the event was an amazing experience and it was well worth the time to make it there. I can see not only the connection with other people on the walk, but also the connection on learning about mental health, learning about the city you live, learning about yourself and how you experience things. Plus learning about the hard work Cooltan are doing when it comes to mental health.


You can check out more on “Cooltan Arts” off their site being