All posts by actionmentalhealth

Working For Mental Health

L-R Lynne Miller, Dr Stephen Farry, Letitia Fitzpatrick, David Babington

Our seminar – Working for Mental Health – “Providing opportunities for people recovering from mental ill health”, was held in the Europa’s Penthouse Suite, and attracted quite a crowd, with standing room only!  Our host for the afternoon was Letitia Fitzpatrick, who introduced our line-up of speakers, including Dr Stephen Farry, the Employment and Learning Minister; Lynne Miller, Central & NW London NHS Foundation Trust; and Alison Kerr from the Belfast Trust. 

The seminar, which was sponsored by the Tughan Trust, began with Ann Donnelly, who performed a fun and interactive monologue about famous people through the ages who have succeeded in their chosen professions despite living with mental illness. 

David Babington, Chief Executive of AMH, then addressed the audience, 

“Work is not only central to most people’s lives; it has also been shown to have a positive effect on mental health.  AMH deliver training programmes and support work based training and employment placements with a view to helping our clients re-enter the workforce, helping more than 1,700 people each year. We have developed very positive links with many businesses in the private sector, organisations in the voluntary sector and several Trusts and Councils but as the largest employer in Northern Ireland, the public sector needs to engage further than it has to date. With the cooperation of the public sector, these schemes could be extended at little cost, with huge benefit both to the people involved and to the wider economy.”

David was then followed by Lynne Miller, our visiting guest from Central & London NHS Foundation Trust, whose talk was entitled “Increasing access to paid employment opportunities for service users in a large Mental Health and Addictions Trust”.  Slides from Lynne’s talk can be downloaded here.  Lynne also referenced many service users experiences who placed employment at the heart of their recovery.  A collection of their stories can be downloaded here.

The Minister then took to the stage,

“With the right support, people with mental health conditions are able to make a significant contribution to Northern Ireland’s workforce. Not only do they play their part in the wider economy, but through meaningful and fulfilling employment, individuals can enhance the quality of their lives on all levels, including their physical and mental health. For those suffering from mental health problems, learning new skills and engaging with the employment market can have a positive effect on their own confidence and self-esteem.”

The Minister went on to pay tribute to the work of AMH,

“The support given by AMH to those with mental health conditions and learning disabilities is invaluable. My Department has a long and established working relationship with AMH and by continuing to work together to deliver a range of successful training programmes and initiatives, we can ensure that those afflicted by mental illness are given the opportunity to maximise their potential.”

The Minister concluded,

“My Department will continue to support people with mental health issues to find and sustain employment and help those affected to enjoy the social, financial and health benefits of work.”

Alison Kerr, from the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust then talked about how they have been able to provide placement opportunities, the benefits and the challenges they have experienced and advice and guidance to other organisations.  A copy of Alisons slides can be downloaded here.

The highlight of the programme was three AMH client testimonials and a panel of clients, AMH staff, and employers who discussed the issue of work placements and took questions from the audience.

Colin Loughran, AMH Service Manager and Billy Kohner, Chair of AMH closed the event.

A copy of the seminar brochure can be downloaded here.

We’d like to thank all those who attended the seminar, and our speakers and panel members: Letitia Fitzpatrick, Ann Donnelly, Josephine Devlin, David Babington, Lynne Miller, Dr Stephen Farry, Alison Kerr, Lynda Duke, John McGeown, Dairmuid McKeown, Selwyn Johnston, Brian Annesley, Jason Nicholson, John Kerr, Dermot Donnelly, Colin Loughran and Billy Kohner.

We will continue to lobby for more placement opportuntites and thank all those who continue to support AMH and our clients.

Newry Businesses supporting mental health

“Businesses must do more to help people with mental illnesses”.

Anthony Bannon on a retail training placement in Easons, Newry

Leading businessmen in the Newry area have appealed to employers to do all they can to facilitate people with mental health illnesses who wish to re-enter the world of work.

Neil Collins, General Manager of the Glen Electric plant at Greenbank and Pat Vaughan, of Easons at Buttercrane Shopping Centre, both feel that offices, shops and factories could do more to provide training places for clients of Action Mental Health who are overcoming mental health issues and who would derive great benefit from being able to work on a voluntary basis for short periods within a normal working environment.

Action Mental Health is based at the Confederation of Community Groups premises at Cornmarket in Newry to where they’ve relocated from their previous home at Greenbank Industrial Estate. Brian Hughes is the Service Manager for this region and he is very pleased that their facility is able to provide a service for around fifty clients who attend their premises each day. These clients, all of whom have experienced mild to moderate mental health issues, undertake training in a variety of Certificate courses covering areas such as Business and Administration, Retail Skills, Horticulture, IT, Catering, Health and Safety,etc.

“The training allows our clients to consider various careers and gives a good basic understanding of a number of areas”, says Brian, “an issue is that when we arrive at the stage where a client would gain benefit from occasional attendance in a normal workplace, we find that not all offices and businesses will make available that facility”.

Brian pointed out that cases of mental illness are 25% higher in Northern Ireland than in Great Britain, while funding is 25% less.  He made a particular plea for public sector offices in the region to make available work opportunities for those recovering from mental illnesses. 

Glen Electric and Easons are among a number of businesses that have allowed AMH clients to attend their workplace and gain experience in a return to employment. There is no cost to the employer and both Neil Collins and Pat Vaughan feel that this is a very worthwhile initiative that allows their business to make a contribution to the overall good of the community.

Health Minister visits Clients at Work

L-R Andrea Warwick, Employment Officer, AMH Accept; Diane McLucas, Proprietor, Barkingham Palace; Edwin Poots MLA, Health Minister; David Babington, CEO, AMH and one satisfied customer who has popped in for a blow dry!

Health Minister Edwin Poots praised Action Mental Health for the innovative way it provides vocational rehabilitation and training for people recovering from mental illness.

Mr Poots was speaking as he visited the Hospice Shop and Barkingham Palace Dog Groomers in Lisburn where he met clients from AMH Accept in Derriaghy who are currently on work placements.

The Minister said:

“I am really impressed by the support and empowerment programmes that Action Mental Health offers people who are recovering from mental illness. The personal development training and work placements provide opportunities for people to develop the confidence, tools and skills that will enable them to lead independent lives.

With up to one in six people possibly suffering from mental illness at some point during their lifetime, any programme that aims to create a positive and meaningful future where people in recovery are able to contribute in a positive way to their local communities should be lauded.”

The Minister commended both the NI Hospice and Barkingham Palace Dog Groomers for providing diverse and innovative placement environments. 

Barkingham Palace Dog Groomers, specialises in the grooming and hygiene of dogs. The work involves bathing, drying and cutting a range of different breeds. Diane McLucas bought over the Dog Grooming Business in February 2011 and is a training placement provider for clients who wish to develop skills working with animals in a grooming and care profession. The previous owner also facilitated work placements for AMH Clients.  One former client is now studying to be a Veterinary Nurse at Greenmount College as a result of working in Barkingham Palace. One client is currently on placement.

The NI Hospice Shop opened in Lisburn in November 2010. Two clients from AMH currently volunteer in the shop. 

Young People Share Their Skills ……

An early Christmas gift for our Fermanagh Unit!

Young people from the Princes Trust programme have spent a morning with our client group in Fermangh in an “inter-generational” session introducing them to the wonders of Nintendo Wii !

The students who have been fundraising locally, donated £80 towards the cost of  a Wii for AMH New Horizons Fermanagh, so that clients can use it recreationally during the winter, when other outdoor activities are not possible!

Newry Welcomes Danny Kennedy MLA

L-R Danny Kennedy MLA; Paddy Kennedy, Instructor AMH; Brian Hughes, AMH Service Manager; Neil Collins, General Manager, Glen Electric; Rene Hughes, AMH; Sam Little, AMH; Paul Fitzpatrick, AMH.

Local MLA, Danny Kennedy, Minister for Regional Development, was the special guest at the Annual Certificate Presentation in AMH New Horizons. 

This was the first time the ceremony was held in the new premises An Stóras at Ballybot House. 

130 certificates were awarded to clients who had achieved qualifications in a range of subjects including IT, Retail Studies, Health & Safety, Career Preparation, Business Administration, Literacy & Numeracy, and Digital Photography. 

Also present were members of the Newry Employers Forum, who are great supporters of the service and provide work placement opportunities for many clients wishing to re-enter the world of work.

Launch of Lough Erne New Horizons Project

Following a successful application to the Arts Council of NI, small grants National Lottery programme, clients in Fermanagh have embarked on an exciting new arts initiative.

 Working alongside professional artists with expertise in sculpture, bronze and glass, clients are creating artwork influenced by Lough Erne. Through the programme clients will be able to further explore their creative expression through creative writing, and digital photography.

Day of Celebration for our Fermanagh Team

Paul Cavanagh, Local Commissioning Group lead, joined clients in AMH New Horizons Fermanagh for their annual certificate presentation ceremony. Paul presented certificates acknowledging 286 accredited training achievements ranging from OCN level 1,to ECDL advanced.

Paul, who expressed his amazement at the number of awards, congratulated clients on their outstanding achievements.

Susan Atwell speaking on behalf of the clients thanked staff for their commitment and support, and spoke movingly of her own journey through the service.