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World Mental Health Day – warning signs of stress and mental illness

On World Mental Health Day, Naseem Tariq from the WY-FI team talks about signs to look out for if we’re concerned about our own or someone else’s mental health. Definitions World Health Organisation defines health as “A state of (complete) physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity.” Health…

Frank Bruno boxer #BlackHistoryMonth #WorldMentalHealthDay

This letter from Frank Bruno was written for serving prisoners at HMP Leeds. We’re publishing it here to mark both Black History Month and World Mental Health Day. Hello its Frank Bruno here. I have been asked to mention Black History month and talk a bit about the prejudice’s I experienced when I was younger…

Nina Simone singer #BlackHistoryMonth

Born to a Christian family on February 21st, 1933; Nina was the sixth child to a North Carolina preacher, Mary Kate Waymon and Handyman, John Divine Waymon. Her early aspiration was to become a concert pianist, which lead her to audition at Curtis Institiute of Music in Philadelphia. She was rejected; a decision she felt…

Ira Aldridge actor #BlackHistoryMonth

Ira Frederick Aldridge was an American and later British stage actor and playwright who made his career after 1824, largely in London and in Europe and is most famous for his Shakespearean roles. Born in New York City, Aldridge went to the African Free School in New York City at aged 13. The school was established by the New York…

Best Start Peer Support Project – what people thought

The Best Start peer support project offers a six week course to support expectant parents and the parents or carers of children under 2 years. To help us evaluate the course and to keep improving it, we always ask participants for their feedback. Here are some recent comments: What did you think of the course…

50th Anniversary Leeds Carnival Parade

The Leeds carnival is an amazing celebration which incorporates all three essential elements of authentic West Indian carnival: costumes, music and masquerade procession. It is one of the longest running West Indian Carnivals in Europe and began in 1967, therefore, marking the milestone 50th anniversary in 2017. On this special occasion, the carnival exceeded the…

Connecting the dots – Community Support Team and CMHT

I commenced my secondment with Touchstone at the beginning of July for a period of three months. It was an opportunity to explore different ways of working and to form better links between Touchstone Community Support Team (CST) and the Community Mental Health Team (CMHT). On my first day the Chief Executive, Alison, came and…

Bi-Visibility Day 23rd September

Bi Visibility Day, also known as International Celebrate Bisexuality Day, has been marked each year since 1999 to highlight biphobia and to help people find the bisexual community. It happens all over the globe. First observed in 1999, Celebrate Bisexuality Day is the brainchild of three United States bisexual rights activists: Wendy Curry of Maine, Michael Page of Florida, and Gigi…

Bi Visibility Day 2017

Bi Visibility Day started was first marked in 1999 and is now celebrated yearly on 23 September. It is a chance for the bi+ community and allies to come together and celebrate as well as helping to raise awareness and correct misconceptions. Bi+ people are often under-represented in the media and when discussing LGBT+ issues;…

How to be Mindful on World Mindfulness Day!

Would you like to do something to mark World Mindfulness Day or are you are curious what mindfulness is all about? Mindfulness is a fairly simple idea about how we direct our focus of attention, but like many things that may sound simple, it can be a little tricky to actually do! The basic principles…

Take a minute, change a life

World Suicide Prevention Day – 10th September 2017  “Take a minute, change a life” Every year, nearly 1 million people die by suicide and up to 20 times as many make a suicide attempt. Behind these statistics are the individual stories of those who have, for many different reasons, questioned the value of their own…

World Suicide Prevention Day

10th September is World Suicide Prevention Day.  According to the Alliance of Suicide Prevention Charities (TASC), suicide is the greatest cause of death amongst young men (15-44) in the UK as well as many young women too. Every four minutes someone in the UK tries to kill themselves and every hour and a half someone…

THE WELL-BEAN CRISIS CAFÉ – HOPE IN A CRISIS: BLOG NO.1….

This is our FIRST blog post, WOW! It genuinely feels a pleasure to be able to talk about what we are, what we do and who we are here to help. The Café opened late last year (October 2016) and has slowly built up a head of steam, with the number of visitors we have…

“PROUD” – A Story of Touchstone at Leeds Pride 2017

Once again this year Touchstone staff celebrated all that is “Pink” about Leeds during Pride 2017. Not only did staff march tall with our Pink Pals banner in the parade, we also had a stall in partnership with Leeds Mind and Community Links to raise awareness of mental health amongst the LGBT+ and non-LGBT communities…

What “involvement” means at Kirklees Advocacy Service

Advocacy is all about helping people who use services to speak up, to be heard and to have influence – in other words to be involved in their own lives and in anything that impacts on their lives. Touchstone’s Kirklees Advocacy Service was designed from the ground up to achieve that. Here’s some of the…

Ambitious Local Community aims to address Leeds Housing need

New Wortley Community Association (NWCA) has been successful in securing a grant to develop an exciting Community Led Housing project in West Leeds. This is a positive boost for the local community and builds upon the success of a number of other initiatives which NWCA already have up and running in the area. This local…

Everyone Has Great Ideas! Report from the Leeds Co-production Conference

On 6th July 2017, Touchstone hosted Leeds’ second coproduction conference.  This time to coincide with national coproduction week. The aims of the conference were 3 fold: To shine a light on the existing examples of coproduction in the region To introduce more people to the “I Statements” and their place in mental health commissioning in Leeds To…

Annual Information Report: Who did Touchstone support in 2016/17?

On 31 March 2017 there were over 1500 active service users accessing Touchstone services. This suggests that on any given day we have around 1500 live service users across Touchstone. Half of Touchstone’s live service users come from BME backgrounds. All Touchstone services have a BME service user profile above the 2011 Census baseline. The…

WHO KNOWS BEST? WE DO!

The ‘We’ is our service users and they always know what is best. This has been reinforced by what our service users think and say about Touchstone in this years annual service user survey results. The key headlines are: Overall 95% of service user respondents indicated that Touchstone is an excellent to good organisation. Quality…

Free Hugs Day

The first Saturday of July is International Free Hugs Day. Maybe you’ve seen someone in your town centre holding up a hand-made sign that says “Free Hugs” – and delivering on that promise by hugging anyone that approaches them. Quite possibly you’ve already seen themusic video below, that shows the advent of this Free Hugs…

“The future looks much brighter” – a Peer-Led Brokerage Service client’s story – #MHAW17

The following is a testimony from an individual using Touchstone’s Peer Led Brokerage Service. This person has a diagnosis of Schizoaffective disorder, anxiety and suspicious personality which has resulted in being sectioned and detained numerous occasions for long periods of time since 2000. The state of her accommodation was highlighted as one of her Psychosocial…

Wellbeing and Befriending scheme

Steph Lewis from the Community Development Service explains how and why a Winter Wellbeing project has turned into a service that’s offered all year round. In January 2017 ELHFA and CDS services jointly started the Winter Wellbeing Project which was based on the very successful Winter Wellbeing Café run during the winter of 2016. The…

Shaid Mahmood – Organised Religion, BME Communities and Sexuality

Shaid Mahmood is the Chief Officer for Communities and the Chief Officer lead for the Council’s Stronger Communities Breakthrough Programme. He is leading on the development of the ten community committees, working with local elected members, involving people in local decision-making and in the shaping and improvement of their neighbourhoods; integrating council and partner services…

Anxious – a poem by Surrinder Singh

Anxiously waiting, preparing in your mind, for someone to offer a word that is kind. Battle, in your mind, rages and you begin to close its doors, your sweat begins to build and starts running from the pores. You want that moment when you can take a step, without spending hours in a state of…

A volunteer’s story

What was your situation and background before you became involved with volunteering? I was working as the Exams Officer at a high school in Leeds when I became poorly during 2013. My condition deteriorated and I was admitted to hospital and finally diagnosed in December 2013 with Neuro-sarcoidosis. Sarcoidosis is a rare anti-immune disease which…

After the NHS – a CHS?

The election is finally behind us. The Labour Party had most of the eye-catching policies – and community businesses could provide the next big idea, writes our guest blogger Bill Graham from New Wortley. (This blog was originally published on the Power to Change website). One of the ideas was to turn the education system into…

Being a Dementia Champion – #DementiaAwarenessWeek

Geraldine, from Touchstone’s IAPT team, talks about the role of a Dementia Champion. My name is Geraldine and I am one of the Dementia Champions with Touchstone. I work in the Touchstone IAPT service where we meet people with common problems with mood and mental health such as anxiety and depression and offer a range…

Dementia journey with my mother – #DementiaAwarenessWeek

Stephanie Lewis from Touchstone’s Community Development Service talks about how her mother’s dementia impacted on the whole family. I first became aware of Dementia when I studied for counselling back in 2000-2008 however, my first personal experience of this was when my mother was diagnosed in 2005. My father passed away in 1998 and they…

Why leaders have difficult conversations all the time

A guest blog from Bill Graham of New Wortley Community Centre – originally published on Power to Change. “Discussions must be in-depth, inclusive and sometimes difficult to make things improve.” Bill Graham New Wortley Community Centre We have all sat in meetings where we think just by having the right people round the table a…