Debt and welfare advice with ‘BetterOff Salford’

September 18th, 2018

Changes in national welfare policy will this month will see the gradual transition of some Salford benefit claimants over to the new Universal Credit (UC) system.

In an effort to demystify UC and the general work and benefits landscape in Salford, the council have developed a new website, ‘BetterOff Salford’. The site aims to help people in Salford make sense of their benefits; understanding what they are entitled to and answering questions around conditionality, budgeting and signposting to advice services.

If you are a Salford resident that is unsure about your benefit eligibility, or would like some help trying to get a job, we suggest first taking a look at the BetterOff Salford website, where a wealth of useful information is all in one place. On the site you will find guidance on:

  • Universal Credit
  • Calculating benefits entitlements
  • Applying for benefits
  • Appealing decisions
  • Recording job search activity
  • Finding work
  • Interviews and CV building
  • Debt advice and personal budgeting

This site has been designed to be used without the need for additional help, but there are some people who may need extra support and assistance. Please contact the council directly if you:

  • are being forced to leave your home
  • are awaiting trial for a criminal conviction
  • have complex learning difficulties
  • have any difficulties with reading and writing
  • are a young person in care or are about to leave care

Visit BetterOff Salford here: https://salford.betteroff.org.uk/#/home

 

 

One in three social housing tenants with mental health problems unhappy with home, making mental health worse

September 6th, 2018

On the back of the publication of the Green Paper, a major study by Mind emphasises need for Government to ensure mental health is at the heart of social housing policy.

 

 

A study by Mind, the mental health charity, has found that one in three (33 per cent) people with mental health problems living in social housing is dissatisfied with where they live. Social housing is provided by local authorities, housing associations or charities to people affected by issues such as low income or disability.

Existing research shows that one in three people who live in social housing have a mental health problem. However, newly analysed data from Mind has shown more than two in five (43 per cent) of people with mental health problems living in social housing have seen their mental health deteriorate as a result of where they live.

Wanting to understand more about the relationship between housing and mental health, Mind surveyed 2,009 people across different housing sectors. Of these, 1,762 have mental health problems and 668 were living in social housing and had mental health problems. The survey also found that:

  • More than one in seven (15 per cent) experienced stigma from housing officials during the social housing application process
  • More than one in four (27 per cent) had problems with benefits such as universal credit or housing benefits.
  • Nearly three in ten (28 per cent) experienced stigma from neighbours or flatmates.

The charity wants to see a greater focus on mental health within social housing policy, with a particular focus on addressing stigma and problems with benefits.

Sophie Corlett, Director of External Relations at Mind, said:

“Social housing is meant to be safe, secure and low cost, making it a good option for those of us with mental health problems who need it. Yet our research shows that people with mental health problems who need social housing are being let down at every stage of the process and the current system just isn’t working for people with mental health problems.

“Given how many people living in social housing are experiencing mental health problems, it’s shocking to see how little attention is given to mental health and housing. At the moment, barely any data is collected on the mental health needs of tenants by local authorities. The recent Green Paper made little reference to mental health, but did mention the need to collect more information about how councils allocate their housing. The Government needs to start collecting data on the housing picture for tenants with mental health problems if it’s serious about properly meeting its ambition for improving support for people with mental health problems. We’d also like to see more training for those working for social housing providers to ensure they are well equipped to support tenants who have mental health problems.”

Nadia is 54 and living in Hackney, London. She is a single parent and currently shares a small studio flat with her 17 year old son. Just over a year ago she was living in a bigger home but struggled to keep up with the rent after her business went under.

She says:

I was privately renting a three bedroom house and was running my own business. Unfortunately, my company folded, and that’s when I felt the strain of making my monthly payments for council tax and other bills. I applied for housing benefit, but only received it for a limited time before it was cut off. After I was evicted, we were forced to move to a studio flat in another part of London, and all our possessions were destroyed by my landlord. As a direct result, I ended up in hospital in mental health crisis.

“My son and I both have severe mental health problems, worsened by our current housing situation. City, Hackney and Waltham Forest Mind has been great in offering me advice and support but the council haven’t been much help. We’ve been in temporary accommodation for ten months now. We’re on a waiting list for somewhere more suitable but even the waiting is causing a great deal of anxiety. My son’s been set back a year in his studies and I’ve been hospitalised form the stress of being placed in poor quality housing in an unknown and dangerous area. Finding new accommodation can’t come soon enough.”

Kathy is 47 and lives with her husband in Merseyside. She has lived in her current home -social housing provided by a housing association – for 20 years.

Kathy says:

“I have developed extreme depression and anxiety and I am prone to having panic attacks. Although I’ve had mental health problems for several years, they have worsened in the last two years, as a direct result of our neighbours. I work from home as a self-employed illustrator, so I’m affected by them 24/7. Our last neighbour regularly threatened us with a gun. Eventually he was moved on without having to go to court. Unfortunately, the neighbours that moved in two years ago are equally bad – noise and anti-social behaviour including threatened assault. The police have been involved.

“It’s affecting my income too. It’s extremely difficult to work as they constantly play loud music all day and all night and because they work shifts, there is always someone home. It’s now a vicious cycle – the more unwell and stressed I get, the less I am able to work, the less money I’m earning, and this feeds into my stress and poor mental health.

“Everyone deserves a safe place to call home and we are desperate to move. The Housing Association have said we just have to put up with it. They say they prioritise actual assaults over threatened ones, even though we are terrified to live here.”

The research also found that the housing system is incredibly difficult to navigate and understand:

  • More than two in five people (43 per cent) with mental health problems in social housing surveyed told us they had difficulty understanding their housing rights.

In response, the charity has launched a new guide which aims to assist people with mental health problems who want to understand how housing laws relate to them, available at mind.org.uk/housing.

 

We are now delivering Mental Health First Aid!

September 6th, 2018

Mind in Salford now offer Mental Health First Aid England training for individuals, businesses and organisations in Salford.  Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is an evidence-based internationally recognised training, backed by the Royal Society for Public Health, which teaches people how to spot the signs and symptoms of mental ill health and to provide initial help and support – just like physical first aiders do for people with injuries or physical ill health.

To discover how mental health first can aid help you and your colleagues, view our training page here.

Alternatively, to make an enquiry about a course, contact our Lead Trainer, Suzanne on:

0161 212 6441 or email, suzanne@mindinsalford.org.uk.

Phoebe’s housing plea: Stop neglecting resident mental health

August 28th, 2018

Phoebe is a 24-year-old social housing tenant from Salford, who has lived in her current home since she was a toddler. Along with an estimated 7 million others across the UK, Phoebe is an informal carer to her mother, who experiences periods of poor mental health.

We met Phoebe at START, a creative arts and wellbeing centre in Salford, where we were kindly given the opportunity to speak to START members about their experience with housing as part of our Brick by Brick campaign . Phoebe spoke profoundly about the stigma her family had faced from housing staff due to her mother’s mental health, and explained how a lack of compassion from housing association staff had brought her family to brink of eviction.

We thank Phoebe for writing openly about her family’s experience; her story of neglect of tenant mental wellbeing is all too common. We hope that Phoebe’s words will encourage other tenants to speak out, and encourage Salford’s housing associations to listen and consider what changes they need to make in their organisations so that such scenarios aren’t repeated. Read Phoebe’s housing plea below:

 

brick by brick salford campaign“Please be more aware of residents who won’t let a housing officer in – maybe there’s a reason for it. For example, my Mum is a bad hoarder and we were constantly threatened with eviction, I was always terrified we’d be kicked out each day growing up. The housing officers would come in really rudely, take photos and leave again. It was only when she got CBT that they understood, yet still no help, not with mental health, not with the black mould in my house that we’ve lived with since I was three (I’m 24 now) – nothing. They won’t even help my sister who’s suicidal because she’s that desperate for help with housing – things need fixing and she needs adjustments. It feels like they just don’t care.”

Has your experience with housing in Salford affected your mental health? By sharing your story, you could help us better understand the real problems in Salford’s housing system, and encourage others to speak out about their experiences. Write your housing plea, or get in touch with us at, communications@mindinsalford.org.uk  .

 

The Big Mental Health Survey 2018

July 30th, 2018

Last year, Mind launched major research project, the Big Mental Health Survey. The survey explores people’s experiences of mental health support provided by the voluntary sector and primary care services (e.g. GPs). It also captures people’s experiences of discrimination.

 

Have you experienced mental health problems? Complete the Big Mental Health  Survey here

Results from last year

We received an incredible response last year. Over 8,000 people who had used mental health services took part, including 1,000 local Mind service users. This has provided important evidence to support our service delivery and influencing work. We found that participants had a better overall experience of care provided by Mind and local Minds (85%), than other voluntary organisations (78%) or primary care services (74%).

In particular, people felt that local Mind staff took them seriously, listened to their needs, gave them enough time to talk about their mental health, treated them as an individual, provided easy to understand explanations, and encouraged them to stay hopeful about the future.

In the North west, three quarters (75%) of respondents felt that primary care services met their mental health needs, this was broadly similar to respondents as a whole.

 

Furthermore, last year’s survey collected important demographic information from the North West around age, sexuality, ethnicity, disability and diagnosis. Collecting such data is crucial as it enables us to identify groups that are under-represented in our service delivery, and plan future services to meet demand.

This year’s survey

We are now launching the next wave of the research and we need your help again. Working closely with our expert research partners, the Picker Institute, we will be surveying up to 10,000 people and we want to hear from even more local Mind service users.

The survey is open to anyone aged 16 years or older, with personal experience of mental health problems. We will be collecting responses until the end of October 2018.

You can take the survey below and read the results from last year’s  report here.

http://www.bigmentalhealthsurvey.com/

 

Salford City Council release Universal Credit guide

July 13th, 2018

The government’s new welfare benefits system, Universal Credit, is due to be fully introduced across Salford as of September 26th. The system will make changes to the way people who are out of work or working on a low income will receive their benefits entitlements, meaning claimants will receive one lump sum each month.

Will Universal Credit affect me?

If you currently receive or are thinking about applying for any of the following benefits, the Universal Credit changes are likely to affect you:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Housing Benefit
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Child Tax Credit

Before full service comes in to play in September, parts of Higher Broughton will be enrolled on July 25th for people in the postcode areas: M7 4, M8 5, M8 8, and M8 9. This is because some people living in these areas are covered by neighbouring Jobcentres, which are moving to the Universal Credit system
before Salford.

Still have questions?

Salford City Council have produced a Universal Credit guide, which explains the changes in more detail, gives tips on how to manage the transition, and outlines where you can find support.

View the guide here.

Mind in Salford team up with local business to help struggling client overcome housing difficulties

July 10th, 2018

When experiencing a period of poor mental health, sometimes managing a home can become overwhelming, especially when under severe financial pressure.

Mind in Salford’s welfare rights and debt advice team work regularly with individuals who are experiencing problems with money and mental health, helping them to manage debt, understand their welfare rights and explore avenues to help ease financial strain. Advice team member, Lisa, recently started working with a struggling client, Gemma, who was at risk of having her three young children removed by social services due to an excessive hoarding habit – a common symptom of many mental health problems such as OCD and depression.

Wanting to make a settled life for her and her children following a period in an abusive relationship, but with no money to begin clearing the house, Gemma found her situation worsening. An enduring period of depression and anxiety was further exacerbated when she received a sanction on her Universal Credit allowance, which came after her mental health condition forced her to cancel a meeting with a work coach at her local Jobcentre Plus.

 

“Mental health problems can make it extremely difficult to attend appointments and meet other welfare criteria, meaning that those suffering are often issued with sanctions. Claimants are then left with an even more restricted ability to engage with services, therefore reducing their income, aggravating money problems and increasing the risk of worsened mental health or homelessness.” Brick by Brick Report – Housing and Mental Health in Salford – Mind in Salford

 

Things started to look up when social services agreed to provide Gemma with a skip, so that she could start the process of clearing her home – a vitally important step towards regaining some stability and keeping her children. Unfortunately, the offer was withdrawn, and with no support from her landlords (a well-known local housing association) the prospect of resolving her problem seemed increasingly unlikely.

 

Typically, registered council providers such as housing associations have a duty to cooperate on matters of tenant safeguarding (such as support for with mental health problems) yet the association did not provide a skip as allegedly they deemed Gemma’s situation to be self-inflicted. 

 

Salford has the highest proportion of social renters in the country, with 35.29% of households renting from one of the city’s registered social housing providers. Source: ONS (2016)

Lisa reached out to Worsley-based company, Kenny Waste Management, who after hearing Gemma’s story kindly agreed to provide a skip free of charge. Subsequently, her friends and neighbours helped her clear her home, thereby kick-starting the process of overcoming her hoarding, providing a safe home for her children and regaining control of her life. What’s more, United Utilities Trust Fund cleared the water bill of over £3,000 that Gemma had accrued when she was without her Universal Credit entitlement, and replaced her cooker through their white goods grant.

 

 

 

We would like to say a big thank you to Kenny Waste Management Ltd, for making this incredible gesture of good will by donating their time and resources to help our client, and also to United Utilities Trust Fund for allowing Gemma the debt relief she so desperately needed.

 

“It’s great that organisations and local businesses can come together to assist local people in need.” – Lisa White, Advice Team, Mind in Salford.

 

We are pleased that with the help of our advice service, Gemma has restored some stability to her life and can begin planning for her and her children’s future. However, stories like Gemma’s are all too common, and highlight the need for improved mental health support for social housing tenants. We are therefore calling on housing associations in the Salford area to demonstrate their commitment to supporting tenant mental wellbeing, and ensure that staff know how and where to signpost and individual should they be struggling.

If you would like to find out more about some the housing an welfare issues raised in Gemma’s story, view our Brick by Brick Campaign page, where you can read our analysis and find out how to get involved.

Mind in Greater Manchester announce emergency services mental health programme

June 29th, 2018

Mind in Greater Manchester have this week announced their new ‘Blue Light Programme’, which aims to improve emergency service staff mental wellbeing by providing unique services, and destigmatising mental health among workers in the region.

Available to all Greater Manchester fire, police, ambulance and search and rescue personnel, the programme offers staff eight unique interventions from a menu of services– including mindfulness, counselling and CBT therapy – which have been specifically designed to help individuals manage stress, build resilience and identify trauma.

Mind in Salford are one of the five local Mind organisations involved in the delivering the programme, which the organisation hopes will provide a much-needed layer of support for emergency services personnel. Chief Exec, Markus Greenwood, stressed how important it is that staff have access to such services:

‘’This is a wonderful opportunity for Mind to help support our emergency services. They do fantastic work but it can be very stressful at times and we all need help when things are tough. We have a menu of tried and tested services on offer that will give a choice of interventions to help with stress and promote resilience for the personnel of these vital services.’’

 

The programme is open to any member of Greater Manchester’s emergency services, regardless of their position or situation.

As a national charity, Mind have championed equality between mental and physical health for years, and are still a key figurehead in the push for better mental health support in workplaces. More recently, the organisation has identified emergency staff as a specific group that is more at risk of experiencing mental ill-health – their latest research finding that 87.57% of personnel said they had experienced stress and poor mental health. Subsequently, the charity has committed £4 million to be spent exclusively on ‘Blue Light’ services since 2015.

Rob Potts, Assistant Chief Constable at Greater Manchester Police said: “The wellbeing of our employees is paramount within a workforce that is frequently exposed to difficult, stressful and traumatic situations.

“The Blue Light programme will help the way we change GMP, creating a work place environment that challenges the stigma surrounding mental health issues, whilst providing the best support and advice and ensuring we are all given the opportunity to reach our full potential.”

 

Who are Mind in Greater Manchester?

Established this year, the organisation is a partnership of Greater Manchester’s five local Minds, working together to ensure people experience better mental health, and support people to live well and feel valued in their communities and at work. By pooling their expert resources, the organisation hopes to offer targeted support that will dispel stigma and empower staff to overcome personal mental health struggles.

As well as the provision of services, Mind in Greater Manchester have declared clear intentions to put mental health front-and-centre of the region’s social, political and commercial landscape by campaigning for change and delivering workplace training together.

Mind in Greater Manchester Coordinator, Stuart Lucas, this week outlined the organisation’s desire to make a concrete difference to the mental wellbeing of emergency services staff: “Through our partnership of five local Minds we are working harder together to achieve better mental health for everybody. The Blue Light Programme is a Greater Manchester specific initiative to ensure that we can be there for those whose job is to be there for us.

“The Blue Light programme illustrates our commitment to find positive ways to make sure Greater Manchester’s emergency services staff feel valued, are able to live well and develop their full potential. We won’t give up until everyone experiencing a mental health problem gets support and respect.”

 

Mental Health in Greater Manchester

Mental health has been firmly on the public agenda in greater Manchester; last summer £134 million pounds was allocated to mental health services, with the ambition of putting mental health on ‘an equal footing’ with physical health. Part of this investment was used to set up the ‘Manchester resilience Hub’, which was launched to support the victims and families of last May’s arena bombing. One year on, those directly involved – including emergency services staff – may still be feeling the mental impact of such a traumatic event.

Furthermore, Mental Health Awareness Week, which took place last month, saw corporations in the region such as Barclays, Manchester Airports Group, PwC, Sellafield and United Utilities, support the ‘This is Me’ campaign, which encouraged staff to break the silence around mental health in the workplace.

 

 

Within the emergency services, recognition of staff mental health continues to grow, and there is an increased appetite for extra support services, as Wayne Norris, a Greater Manchester Firefighter and mental health activist explains:

“Over the past five years, attitudes towards mental health in our workplace have got a lot better, but it’ still vitally important to get the issue out there.

“We need to be able to walk in to work and tell someone what’s affecting us, and why it’s affecting us. Having Mind in Greater Manchester’s Blue Light Programme available is brilliant – hopefully it will help staff to improve their own mental health and continue speaking out.”

The Blue Light Programme is available now for any Greater Manchester emergency services employee or volunteer. To see the course details or to book on to a service, visit: https://www.gmmind.org.uk/blue-light-programme/  or contact Mind in Greater Manchester’s Blue Light team directly on 0161 212 6461 or by emailing bluelight@gmmind.org.uk . Alternatively, individuals can approach their Wellbeing or HR departments, who can discuss the most suitable options with them and make a referral.

Salford Sainsbury’s Charity of the Year

June 19th, 2018

Mind in Salford have been shortlisted alongside two other local organisations to become Salford’s Regent Road Sainsbury’s charity of the year.

We are extremely grateful to be shortlisted and are excited about the prospect of working with the store to raise awareness of mental health in our community and help people get the support they deserve.

You can vote either online by visiting, https://www.sainsburyslocalcharity.co.uk and searching ‘Regent Road Salford’, or if you’re local to the area, vote for us at the end of your next shop!

 

Are you a business looking to fundraise or partner with a charity? Supporting Mind in Salford is a direct way to make a difference to the Salford community, and show your staff you care about their mental health.

There are loads of ways businesses can get involved with Mind in Salford, just visit our corporate fundraising page to find out how!

Corporate Fundraising

 

 

 

Make Mental Health First Aid mandatory – support the campaign!

May 21st, 2018

We are proud to be supporting the Where’s Your Head At campaign, which aims to change legislation so that mental health first aid is made obligatory in every workplace in England.

The campaign was started by Bauer Media Group (who own some of the UK’s most recognised media brands including, Kiss FM, Heat, Grazia and Empire) and has since been championed by celebrities and influential mental health campaigners – most notably, Natasha Devon.

The petition is addressed to Sarah Newton, the Minister of State for Disabled People, Health and Work, and calls for her to pledge to update the Health and Safety At Work Act to ensure that businesses have the same responsibility to provide mental health first aiders as they do medical first aiders.

So far the petition has over 40,000 signatures, but needs around 100,000 to be debated in parliament. We’ve signed it – you can too at Change.org.

 

Natasha Devon MBE is an experienced health and social campaigner, who has received multiple awards and successfully influenced public policy in the past.

What is mental health first aid?

It is thought that 1 in 6 people will experience a mental health problem in the workplace. This said, common work-related experiences such as stress and anxiety are often dismissed as part of working life, which can lead to entrenched workplace stigma and an increased risk of worsening an individual’s mental health by not seeking help or advice on how to manage it.

Mental health first aid – developed by MHFA England – aims to change workplace attitudes towards mental health, provide employees with the resources they need to look after their own mental wellbeing, and better inform people about what to do if they think they are struggling.

 

As an organisation, Mind have recently been campaigning for more action to be taken around workplace mental health and have contributed to major reports surrounding the individual and economic impact of poor mental health in the workplace.

At Mind in Salford, a charitable objective of ours is to dispel the stigma surrounding mental health in the workplace, and help nurture healthier workers in Salford. We have been delivering mental health awareness training to organisations and individuals across the city for years, but welcome the development of the MHFA standardised package, and will be delivering it ourselves in the coming months.

We know how important it is that mental health is recognised with the same importance as physical health, and are fully behind the ‘Where’s Your head At’ campaign. Join us by signing the petition here.