Blog

National Coming Out Day

Coming out – speaking the truth that we’re not sure others want to hear – it’s a courageous act. What reaction will we meet? Celebration, condemnation, curiosity or indifference? Will people stand by us, or will they walk away? Will we, maybe, inspire someone else to have the courage to speak their hidden truth? What…

Raat Di Roti – support through sharing

Raat Di Roti is ever increasing to become a popular project where volunteers and matched elderly participants come together in a cosy environment to share stories, laughter, joy, and a meal. We have had positive feedback from a few of the elderly participants and likewise from the volunteers expressing they find the experience so endearing…

Winter Wellbeing Café Top Ten Tips

As Winter starts to return, we’re republishing some of the tips that our Winter Wellbeing Cafe came up with last year – to help you keep healthy and safe through the cold months.  1. Eat more fruit and veg to boost your immune system, including prunes, kiwi fruit, other greens and carrots. Also make garlic part…

Parity of Esteem for Mental and Physical Health

‘Parity of Esteem’ is essentially: ‘Valuing mental health equally with physical health’. More fully, parity of esteem means that, when compared with physical healthcare, mental healthcare is characterised by: Equal access to the most effective and safest care and treatment Equal efforts to improve the quality of care The allocation of time, effort and resources in proportion…

Client feedback from PEP social prescribing service

The Patient Empowerment Project is a social prescribing service commissioned by the West Leeds Clinical Commissioning Group and delivered in partnership between BARCA Leeds, Better Leeds Communities, Mind and Touchstone. The project supports people to take control of their health and wellbeing. Participants are referred by their doctor and are supported to access groups, services and…

The rainbow flag – what it means and where it comes from

As businesses and communities prepare for Leeds Pride this weekend, we can expect to see a plethora of rainbow flags adorning the buildings of Leeds city centre. The flag has been a symbol of LGBT unity and strength for nearly 40 years – so much so, that we rarely think about what they flag’s origins…

World Hepatitis Day

28th July is World Hepatitis Day.  This year is particularly special as The World Health Organisation will deliver its Global Elimination Strategy for Viral Hepatitis, outlining the goal of eliminating the threat viral hepatitis by 2030. Viral hepatitis is curable.  Hepatitis B can be prevented and hepatitis C can be treated.  Better still, they can…

SES on the “orient Express”

Sikh Elders Service manager Chani Batebajwe describes the most recent outing organised for users of the service. SES went out on their annual trip on the 25th June to Whitby via Pickering on a steam train experience. Everyone, all 55 of them, attentively listened to the volunteer guide talking about the history of the railway and…

Celebrating Eid-al-Fitr

Celebrating Eid-al-Fitr To celebrate Eid our colleague Gul H has written the following piece to explain about the festivities.   Eid-al-Fitr is said to have originated when the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) arrived in the city of Medina, he found some people celebrating two explicit days on which they used to entertain themselves with recreation and…

The Mental Health Support Experiences in Leeds of Black Women and Roma Men, Born Outside of the UK

Touchstone’s vision is to inspire communities and to transform lives. Over our 30 plus years of operating across West Yorkshire this aspiration has led us to focus on the hopes, experiences and outcomes of our most diverse communities, as experience shows that these communities are most often the most excluded, marginalised and overlooked. These reports will hopefully go…

A big thumbs up from our service users

On an annual basis questionnaires are sent out to service users in order to ascertain their views/opinions about Touchstone and the service they have received.  The feedback and views of service users plays a key role in identifying best practice, areas for improvement and informing our approach to delivering quality outcomes and continuous improvement. During…

What the numbers say about Touchstone?

Annual Information Report 2015/16  Often service users come up to me describing what great services Touchstone provides. This always brings a big smile to my face.  However I also recognise such comments may be subjective in nature. Certainly nothing wrong with this as feedback from service users provides a very useful insight into whether we…

Disability Awareness Day – Hidden Disabilities

July 10th is Disability Awareness Day, and so I would like to take this opportunity to discuss the disabilities which people may not be aware of or even recognise in the community. Hidden Disabilities can be defined as a physical or mental health condition that limits a person’s movements, senses or activities, yet may not…

Ramadhan Mubarak

As we approach the end of Ramadhan, Carers Leeds and Touchstone would like to share some information on what it means to observe Ramadhan and how it may affect the daily lives of carers and others. Ramadhan is the ninth month of the Islamic Lunar calendar.  For 30 days Muslims spend the daylight hours in…

#coproweek A Coproduced Poem on Coproduction

At our recent coproduction conference, we asked all the attendees to write down some of the words that they felt were most important when considering coproduction (design of services in a way which allows equal input from the people who use those services as well as those who deliver, fund or facilitate them). The finished…

The Stonewall Uprising

This week, June 28, will mark the 47th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, the event largely regarded as a catalyst for the LGBT movement for civil rights in the United States.  The riots inspired LGBT people throughout the country to organize in support of gay rights, and within two years after the riots, gay rights…

Happy Refugee Week

To coincide with refugee week our colleague, Morteza H at IAPT has written about his experiences of being a refugee. Happy refugee week Having come to this country as a refugee, I feel obliged to acknowledge the Refugee Week with extra care; or perhaps the prosperous life I have established makes me feel proud to…

How do you beat stress? #MensHealthWeek

We asked some of the men who come to the Men’s Gym and Swimming Group organised by Touchstone Community Development service the question “How do you beat stress?”. Here’s what they had to say. “I love swimming, I feel relieved whenever I have the chance to swim. I also find that exercise, eating healthy and…

The Blessed Month of Ramadhan

To celebrate Ramadhan our IAPT colleague Gul H has kindly written this piece to highlight the meaning and purpose of Ramadhan.  The Blessed Month of Ramadhan Islam is the world’s second largest religion after Christianity with more than one billion followers. Around one million worshippers from over 180 countries will make the pilgrimage to Saudi…

Carers Week – 6th to 12th June

A guest blog from Val Hewison at Carers Leeds June 6th to the 12th is Carers Week. A week where we focus on the essential role that families and friends have in providing care and support to others  who have an illness or disability. I often wonder why we need awareness days and weeks for…

Believe in yourself: volunteering at Touchstone

One of our brilliant volunteers explains how and why she got involved and the benefits that volunteering has had for her.   Before I started my volunteering with Touchstone I just had my son and was unemployed and unaware of the direction I wanted to go in life. I lacked so much confidence due to…

Stress Control Class – Carole’s Story

“…One of the most important aspects of the course was the fact that no one was ever put on the spot or made to feel uncomfortable..” Carole’s story At the beginning of 2015 I had thoughts of harming myself had been regularly visiting my GP and was suffering from severe depression. I had low self-esteem,…

Stress Control Class – Lynne’s Story

Lynne’s Story “Friends had noticed that I wasn’t ‘me’ … sadly many also identified with my feelings but had felt that it was just something that had to be ‘weathered’. I had no idea why I was feeling like I was; I was sad, crying, upset and generally very emotional.  I tried on numerous occasions…

Goal Setting and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Goal Setting In Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), setting goals is an important and helpful part of therapy but is something that you may be able to start before your therapy begins. Very often, when people first start to think about goals in therapy they may say things like: “I want to feel happy” “I want…

Feedback from the Sadee Smile diabetes awareness course

Here’s some of the feedback we got from participants on our Sadee Smile diabetes awareness courses aimed at the South Asian communities in Leeds. All the clients referred to below are Pakistani adults, aged 45-60 with either Type II Diabetes or Prediabetes. The clients with Diabetes were either taking medication or aiming to control the…

Dementia Awareness Week – the role of a Dementia Champion

In our third blog post for Dementia Awareness Week 2016, Amina Ditta talks about her role as a Dementia Champion within one of Touchstone’s staff teams.   As a Dementia Champion I have been trying to deliver Dementia Awareness sessions to the team at Kirklees. This has proven to be much more challenging that I…

#IDAHOBIT A long history of oppression and resistance

On International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia, we look at the chequered history of the ongoing quest for equal rights and legal recognition.   1533 – During the reign of Henry VIII, all sexual intercourse between two men was made illegal, punishable by death. Between 1533 and 1558 the law was repealed and then…

Dementia Awareness Week – Dementia Friendly Kirklees Team

  In the fourth of our posts for Dementia Awareness Week 2016, Jane Mackay from Kirklees Advocacy Service talks about the steps her team have made to be supportive of people living with dementia and why it’s so important to her.   Like most other people, my family has had experience of dementia, my Gran…

Preparing for your Cognitive Behavioural Therapy: Regular Eating

Regular eating Many people who feel low in mood or feel anxious struggle to maintain a regular pattern of eating. For some people, their appetite reduces and people may skip meals or reduce their food intake. Others may experience an increase in appetite or a tendency to eat for comfort but find that they become…