2015–16 was our second full year of delivering the combined IMHA (Independent Mental Health Advocacy) and community advocacy contract and having successfully secured additional funding we have been able to enhance our team and our service offer. We have recruited a new full time community advocate and as a result we have brought down our waiting list and waiting times. The IMHA service continues to provide vital support to people detained in hospital and we have seen referral numbers in this team grow by 18% on last year. The Community Advocacy service is also growing with a 17% increase in new referrals on last year.
In 2015–2016 we have taken a total of 442 new referrals into the advocacy service. We are exceptionally proud of the outcomes we help people to achieve, in particular:
- Confidence 47% improvement
- Mental wellbeing 34% improvement
- Speaking up for myself 57% improvement
Our volunteers play a vital role in service design and the team is going from strength to strength with inductions and training now being delivered locally by staff in Dewsbury, backed up by the knowledge and experience of Touchstone’s Leeds-based Volunteers Project.
Our proudest achievement of 2015–16 has to be the creation of Meeting of Minds – the new service user forum for Kirklees. Through a huge amount of effort, energy and collaboration, Touchstone has enabled a group of people to completely redesign how service users can connect with each other and with both statutory and community services across our locality.
As the 2015–16 year comes to a close, this project is just about to go live, with our launch event planned and a committed team of members who are brimming with ideas of how we might develop into next year. Meeting of Minds has already been recognised by the Kirklees Mental Health Partnership Board as representing the future of service user involvement; creating roles where people can be leaders and have a very real impact and influence on service design and delivery.
“I still get pangs of distress, worry and depression, but I know I can learn to manage this and move on with the help of organisations like Touchstone.”
“Your support made me feel valued, respected and calm, which ultimately helped me focus on the task ahead. I didn’t think I deserved help. Now I make a valuable contribution to society.”