‘We’ve come so far’

    Clients and staff outside Haringey Recovery Service

    St Mungo’s Haringey Recovery Service (HRS) recently held a five mile ‘Recovery Pride Walk’ with local partners to celebrate the recovery journeys of its service users from substance use.

    This year the walk was extended from two to five miles to include other services along the way such as mental health, and family and carers of drugs and alcohol users. For those taking part, it was a way of making people in the local community aware of where to go in order to receive support to address their substance misuse or if a family, friend or carer needed support.

    For many it was a symbolic day which created a sense of achievement because those taking part were walking with other clients and staff who have been on a similar journey.

    ‘An air of camaraderie and purpose’

    About 50 people completed the Walk, well prepared, with high visibility vests, bottles of water, first aid kits and health and safety awareness instructions and snacks to help energise along the way. People taking part said that they felt as if they were on some important mission – there was an air of camaraderie and purpose.

    For Alice, a Haringey Recovery Service User and Recovery Peer, the walk marked just how far she had come. She said: “I was a steward. I completed the route before the Walk to make sure we knew where we would be going. I put up all the notices to get people involved. The Recovery Pride Walk for me shows how much I have achieved. I’ve been sober for six months – for me, the first time in my whole life. So, it’s something big I have achieved. Hopefully I’ll be involved next year and I’ll be working in the services, supporting my peers.”

    ‘I’ve come so far on my journey’

    Rohan, an ex-service user who now supports his peers at HRS, also really enjoyed the Walk. He said: I’ve been here for three years and moved on. I’m now at the Recovery College doing music technology. I hope the t-shirts we wore put the message across that this is a wonderful service. I am a recovering alcoholic. The staff here really helped me. My mother suffers from dementia and I was going through a tough time looking after her. I found real great support from the staff here. It’s great to be able to go on the Walk. I have come so far on my journey. Next year, I’ll be back again doing this and supporting people like me.”

    Jean Man, Service User Involvement Manager of Haringey Recovery Service said: “After its success last year, people fed back that they wanted the Walk to take place again. The work that people put into this day was unbelievable, the talent, motivation, the willingness to make the event happen and the participation – it made recovery champions of us all. People came back exhausted but satisfied – food and rest were a priority. It also coincidentally but fortunately timed with a wider St Mungo’s Diversity Day, with information for that designed by the service users and staff. And very special thanks from me to our recovery peers – it’s such an honour to work with them.”

    ‘It was inspiring to take part in the walk’

    Haringey Recovery Service is a partnership service involving St Mungo’s, Haringey Advisory Group on Alcohol (HAGA), Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Mental Health Trust, and Blenheim CPD.
    Set up in 2014, it provides support to people in Haringey on treatment for drug and alcohol problems. This includes counselling, rehabilitation programmes, peer support, and a fantastic Recovery College offering a range of courses to educate, improve wellbeing and prepare people for living independently once again.

    David Devoy, St Mungo’s Regional Director said: “It was inspiring to participate in the walk with clients from across Haringey, our staff and supporters. The public were gracious as we went along, and it’s good to know that the community in Haringey think positively about people in recovery and the services that support them.”



    ‘The Sanctuary were able to reach me’

    “I thought the pain I was suffering mentally couldn’t be alleviated and so the only way out was to take my life.”  – as a new campaign ‘We Hear You’ is launched to get Bristol talking about mental health, Shaun shares his experience at The Bristol Sanctuary, a unique service run by St Mungo’s for people who experience severe emotional distress.

    The Bristol Sanctuary is a welcoming safe space available for anyone feeling they can’t cope or are feeling desperate over the weekends. We help people find some stability and a plan to stay safe. People can spend time talking through their situation with a trained worker, or just take some breathing time.

    ‘Encouraging people to access the help they need’

    Three out of four people who visit The Sanctuary are considering suicide or serious self-harm. Over each weekend, an average of 20 people visit seeking support. Staff want to ensure others know about the service and are launching the ‘We Hear You’ campaign to encourage more people to access the help they need.

    According to the latest statistics from Public Health England, the rate of death by suicide in Bristol is above the three year average for the south west and for England. The City Council’s Joint Strategic Needs Assessment states there were 137 suicides in Bristol between 2012 and 2014.

    “I had taken two serious attempts to end my life. I was at my lowest.”

    We asked Shaun, who has used the service to share his experience with us. Shaun, 58, tells us in his own words just how vital it was in saving his life:

    “I was in crisis. I had taken two serious attempts to end my life. I was at my lowest. It was my daughter who phoned for help. I think she called the police. It’s all a blur, but the lady who came with the police, told me about The Sanctuary.

    “It was just before Christmas 2016. The crisis team called round daily to check on my welfare. They were great and talked me out of taking an overdose but they couldn’t offer me the company I needed. I needed to talk, not just in a psychological way, but to talk and for someone to listen. If I talked I got a break from my suicidal thoughts. I didn’t want to be here anymore, my marriage had broken down after 37 years and I was lost.

    “I left feeling okay.”

    “I thought the pain I was suffering mentally couldn’t be alleviated and so the only way out was to take my life. I thought if nothing could stop the pain there’d be no point in seeking help. It was relentless, I could only sleep for an hour or two, and sleep was the only break I got from my dark and painful thoughts.

    “It was wonderful to come to The Sanctuary, to stay as long as I needed to and meet friendly people; with the combination of talking to people and counselling. I left feeling ‘ok’ and with a realisation that there was something that could alleviate the pain. I lost my suicidal thoughts and had, now, a little bit of hope from which I could build my recovery.

    “I have suffered depression for 27 years following an accident at work, which left me with disabilities, and I had to leave my job. Usually for me, when I am in crisis I am unreachable and more to the point I don’t want to be reached. But they were able to reach me, the moment I walked through the door I felt a great relief. That first weekend I came every night they were open, and again the following weekend. My normal coping methods, like talking to my wife were no longer there. I felt I had no future and all I had was this terrible, terrible pain.

    “If I hadn’t come to The Sanctuary I wouldn’t be alive.”

    “The Sanctuary has such a lovely atmosphere, I was greeted with a smiling face – it was right – not over the top – just the right kind of smile. There was no pressure just an acceptance, you don’t have to talk, but you can if you want to. They helped me to see I did have a future and I could be independent. They raised my confidence and my visits improved my social interactions, they were positive experiences. Up until that point I had never left the house without my wife. I was isolated. I began to feel my future was bearable. If I hadn’t come to The Sanctuary I wouldn’t be alive. I am so grateful that the strength of my suicidal thoughts have gone, I still get flashes but its sufficient for me to know that it is there and I can come back any time, and I have.

    “I was as desperate as I think it’s possible to be. To meet people who have compassion and others who are in a similar place helped me get through; I’m often amazed, at how good fellow sufferers are at knowing when to be quiet, or to ask how you are.

    “I have built resilience. I would say to anyone who is going through a crisis, or even before it reaches crisis point to visit, it’s got to be worth giving it a try.”

    Shaun is currently studying for a distance learning degree.

    How to get in touch

    Open Thursday – Monday. Phone lines open from 4pm.
    In person appointments available 5 till 11pm.
    Phone support 5pm till midnight.
    Call us on 07709 295 661 or email awp.bmhsanctuary@nhs.net to book a place or for more information.


    Out of London; Down to Paris

    Network Homes Team

    “It is fatal to look hungry. It makes people want to kick you” is a quote from George Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London. You may not have wanted to kick someone for sleeping out but how many times have you walked by, getting on with your busy life, not caring to think about what the needs are of someone sleeping rough?

    I have never been in the position of not having a roof over my head or wanting to know when I will get my next meal. It is not something I want to experience and do not think others should have to experience it either. But they do. There is a housing crisis; people are not able to afford to buy or rent and there are increasing numbers of people sleeping rough as well as hidden homeless.

    ‘Supporting people through times to rebuild their lives’

    As someone who works for a company providing housing, Network Homes, I and 19 of my colleagues signed up to ride London to Paris to raise money for St Mungo’s. We believe in the value of services they provide to end homelessness and supporting people through some tough times to rebuild their lives.

    The Network Homes’ team is of mixed ability. When we decided to sign up for this in February 2017, some had not had the wind (or rain) in their faces since childhood! The thing that bonds us is the desire to get to Paris and raise as much as we can for St Mungo’s.

    Over £63,000 raised

    We have raised over £63,000 through donations and sponsorship. Our L2P jersey and bib shorts are adorned with logos from our sponsors, topped and tailed with our company branding.

    For me, as a regular cyclist, it has given me more of an excuse to get out during the long spring and summer days to get my training in. After riding Ride London 100 at the end of July, in the St Mungo’s colours, my training continued with an increase in the number long rides on consecutive days and now I am excited about setting off from Crystal Palace.

    On the 13 September it will be ‘au revoir London’ and 300 miles and four days later it will be ‘hello Paris’.

    James Dean
    Network Homes

    Why we fundraise for St Mungo’s

    I will put my hands up and say, I am not cycling to Paris. But what I am doing is supporting the fantastic team of 20 get from Crystal Palace to the Eiffel Tower and encouraging them every step of the way for the fantastic work and effort they have been putting into this momentous challenge.

    I have been championing fundraising at Network Homes since 2015, and since 2016 St Mungo’s has been our charitable cause. Chosen by staff, St Mungo’s and Network Homes share common values and passions for challenging the housing crisis and helping those in need. This cycle is the culmination of efforts from every single member of our staff. While only 20 will be cycling, our staff have attended tea parties, baked cakes and donated household items – and even played in football tournaments, all to help the St Mungo’s cause.

    I am immensely proud of our cyclists and of all the staff at Network Homes who have contributed to our fantastic achievement. It is a true story of how one good idea can become a tremendous force for change, and we hope that every single penny raised will help the homeless and generate real change in their lives.

    On to Paris!

    Rebecca Bicocchi
    Network Homes


    What kind of world would you like to pass on?

    Image: Jordan and Matt recording a jingle

    This week we’re asking our supporters, volunteers, staff and clients to think about what world they’d like to pass on, as part of Remember a Charity in your Will Week.

    We asked some of our clients, and they shared what world they want to pass on with us:

    ‘A world where there is no homelessness and to show that recovery is possible with the right support around you.’  

    ‘A world where everyone feels seen and appreciated for who they are.’

    Remember a Charity in your Will Week have launched a radio station with DJ Emperor Rosko so that you too can #HaveYourSay about the world you’d like to pass on.

    Gifts in wills help our clients through their journey to recovery, and help to rebuild lives. One of these projects is the Endell Street Studio, where our clients, Claire and Jordan recently visited to help record a jingle for the campaign.

    The studio aims to use music creation as a tool to engage and support the recovery of people experiencing homelessness.

    Claire says: “I was very excited to have the opportunity to record in the studio at Endell Street for Remember a Charity Week – I enjoyed my time there. I felt like a professional and learnt so much about the technical aspects of recording music.”

    Have a listen to the jingles that Jordan and Claire recorded here.

    You can also tune into Last Pirate FM on DAB digital radio or listen online at www.mixcloud.com/lastpirate – and listen out for Emperor Rosko singing one of the jingles that will be played on air!

    If you’d like to do something legendary for future generations of homeless men and women by leaving a gift in your will, please visit the legacy section of our website or get in touch with Katie Wimpenny at katie.wimpenny@mungos.org to request an information pack.

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