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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…

Dementia Awareness Week – Carer’s Testimony

In the second of our blog posts for Dementia Awareness Week 2016, a carer talks about his family’s experiences from the time of their father’s diagnosis with dementia to the time of his death. My father was diagnosed with Dementia/Alzheimer in 2001, we as a family didn’t really know what this meant. Our beloved father…

What to Expect at Your First Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Appointment

What to expect at your first cognitive behavioural therapy appointment   A lot of clients get nervous about their first CBT appointment and do not know what to expect. First appointments may vary a little from person to person, but here is an idea of the kind of things you might expect in your first CBT…

“Two Minds” – a poem for Mental Health Awareness Week

To mark the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Week, a user of Touchstone’s services shares a poem that describes some of her experience of living with mental illness.   I‘ve written poetry for as long as I can remember, having my first poem published at the age of 14. Since then I’ve had a poem…

Dementia Awareness Week – Dementia Champions

  In the first of a series of posts from staff and service users for Dementia Awareness Week 2016, Touchstone’s Arfan Hanif talks about the Dementia Champions group within the organisation. In 2015 Touchstone, as part of its ‘Working to become Dementia Friendly’ accreditation, set up the Dementia Champions group which represents staff from all…

International Dance Day

The benefits of dancing has been well established, helping to improve not only our physical but also mental wellbeing. And dance holds a special place in the heart of one Touchstone IAPT clinician in particular therefore to coincide with International Day of Dance, Carlyn B, has chosen to share with you the following reflection. By Carlyn…

The Difference Between Living and Existing – A Client Journey

A client who recently attended a Stress Control Class has found the course so helpful that he wanted to share a poem about how he was feeling before accessing therapy. He has then provided a summary about his amazing success since engaging with Leeds IAPT.  If you can relate to how he is feeling, please don’t…

International Day of Happiness

By Sally P The one thing that we all strive for in our lives is to be happy. There are lots of ways that happiness impacts on how we feel; including our health, our levels of creativity and even how much we experience physical pain. One study found that happiness, optimism and life satisfaction are…

“Vada That” by Adam Lowe – for World Poetry Day

To mark World Poetry Day, we’re sharing a poem by Adam Lowe, written in the street slang language of Polari. The poem (and accompanying glossary were featured as Poem of the Week in The Guardian on 12th October 2015. Aunt nell the patter flash and gardy loo! Bijou, she trolls, bold, on lallies slick as…

Sylvia Rivera – pioneer of trans activism

To mark Trans Day of Visibility (31st March) we profile the life of a pioneering trans activist. Sylvia Rivera, who was of Puerto Rican and Venezuelan descent, was born in New York City and named Ray Rivera by her parents. She became an orphan at 3 years old and was then raised by her Venezuelan…

Christmas time and mental health

Self-proclaimed Christmas lover and CBT Therapist Nicole C has taken time to write a very important and moving reflection about the festive period and the potential effect on mental health. As somebody who loves Christmas and the whole festive season it is important to be reminded that not everyone feels this way. I wanted to…

LGBT History Month 2016 Profile – Laverne Cox

In celebration of LGBT History Month, Touchstone is profiling a different LGBT celebrity each week in the month of February. The chosen celebrity this week is Laverne Cox: twin; actress, television producer and LGBT advocate. Born in Mobile, Alabama, Laverne was bullied constantly as a child. She describes how she attempted suicide after realising, aged…