Harmless and Tomorrow Project Statement: Coronavirus preparation

“Harmless and The Tomorrow Project continue to monitor the Coronavirus situation and we want to reassure you that we are working hard behind the scenes so that you can keep accessing ongoing support with minimal impact.

Although we are being proactive as an organisation, it is important to acknowledge that we anticipate there will be some disruption to our services in the future. We cannot confirm what they are at this stage, but we continue to be guided by Government, Public Health England and our closest colleagues in the healthcare profession. For now, most face to-face services remain open and you can continue to access support as you do now.

The health and safety of our clients and staff remain at the forefront of all our decisions. We have increased our cleaning regimes of support spaces and waiting areas, particularly for those that come in to physical contact  regularly by other clients and our team members.  In addition, we have made the following decisions:

  1. Firstly, we are taking steps to reduce the number of people in our waiting reception area. Until further notice, people attending support sessions will not be able to bring anyone with them to unless you are a parent who needs to bring a minor or a minor who comes with a  parent.
  2. Secondly, Crisis Cafe and Drop-In sessions will be suspended with immediate effect. Email support will continue but remains limited in terms of response time and support capability.

We are also in the process of contacting clients currently in receipt of support to complete an additional form as we prepare for the possibility of having to provide support remotely. Although we do not expect to do this right now, we are exploring all possible support options for our clients. In addition, we will use the information you provide to contact you should there be any sudden changes to our services that may affect you.

Finally, we want to take this opportunity to reassure you that Harmless and The Tomorrow Project remain fully committed to providing ongoing support to everyone who relies on our services. Regardless of the barriers and challenges we may face in the upcoming weeks; we will work tirelessly to overcome them wherever possible and continue to provide the vital services we deliver.

Best wishes,

The Harmless and Tomorrow Project Team”

Meet Carolyn, our Therapist Intern

I started work with Harmless in September 2019 whilst working towards a Level 4 diploma in therapeutic counselling. I was drawn to Harmless because of their passion and commitment in helping people in often the most difficult times of their lives.

During my time at Harmless I have been amazed by the bravery of the clients to tell their story and reach out for help, but equally overwhelmed by the dedication of the staff at Harmless and The Tomorrow Project.

My style is person-centred. Endeavouring to build genuine relationships by listening without judgement, showing empathy, compassion and understanding.

I come with a varied background, HR Consultancy and Youth Work including running a youth camp in South Wales for 7 years. Prior to working with Harmless I worked for small company that produces Sphagnum moss to combat climate change. I have four children (3 who are teenagers). This has given me a greater understanding of the pressure that our teenagers experience at school, exam pressures and bullying, anxiety about self-image, concerns about the future and feeling powerless to change their circumstances.  I am happy to be working with an organisation that is helping people who struggle with these issues.

Introducing Lydia, our newest team member

Hi, I’m Lydia

I’m very excited to be joining The Tomorrow Project as the new suicide crisis support officer.

I’ve got a varied background stemming from qualifying as a chef when I first left school to working with some beautiful people with learning difficulties, autism, dementia, delirium or personality disorders. I believe this has allowed me to gain a very person centred approach and has provided me with a vast knowledge of differing areas. I feel I can bring a lot of knowledge to the team and can’t wait to start making a difference.

Although it is only my second week, I have already had the pleasure of observing client sessions and seeing first hand some of the amazing work being done here at Harmless and The Tomorrow Project.

I’ve also attended my first conference, From Harm to Hope, which Harmless hosted last Friday with the focus on female suicide. I got to meet a variety of incredible individuals and learn about the work they are doing to better the world. One of my favourite workshops of the day was by Lisa Carter on perinatal mental health, this sparked a keen interest in the area for me.

I feel honoured to be part of such an amazing team and I am so excited to progress with them.

 

Would you like to work for Harmless and The Tomorrow Project?

Harmless are pleased to offer this exciting opportunities to join our passionate team and help us save lives. We are looking for dynamic individuals, who are willing to develop their skills; work outside the box and challenge themselves.

We are currently recruiting for a Suicide Bereavement Support Officer to join our team.

There is no set deadline for the Suicide Bereavement Support Officer role and we will  be interviewing periodically. Once this position has been filled we will no longer be accepting applications, therefore applying early is advised.

Click here to download the application pack for the Suicide Bereavement Support Officer role

___________________________________________________________________

JOB TITLE: 
Suicide Bereavement Support Officer

HOURS: 
Up to 37.5 hours per week
(Both part time and full time available)

SALARY: 
Up to £21,819 per annum, pro rata
(Depending on experience)

Please note: Work as part of this role will take place across the East Midlands, therefore driving will be a necessary part of the role applicants will need to hold a valid driver’s license and have access to a car to be able to undertake the position.

______________________________________________________________________

Click here to download the application pack for the Suicide Bereavement Support Officer role

 

If you have any questions regarding these roles or the application process, please contact us:

Phone: 0115 880 0280
Email: admin@harmless.org.uk.

Introducing Sonia, our new therapist

Hello, my name is Sonia and I have been a therapist with Harmless for three months now, working with men and women of all ages affected by self harm and suicide. It’s taken me a while to get this post written as it’s the first blog I’ve actually ever done!

I was really pleased when I was offered this position and excited to get to know more about Harmless and the work that they do. I have been amazed by the organisation so far and how many different services are offered to people in real need of support during some of the most difficult times in their lives.

I come to Harmless from a background of working as a counsellor in third-sector voluntary organisations, for example, in a Leicester-based women’s counselling service working closely with domestic abuse and sexual violence. I am also a trained peer support worker and in this role have greatly valued opportunities to share my lived experience with those I have supported.

I feel my own personal values of hope and recovery, plus my person-centred approach to therapy, are well aligned with those of Harmless as a user led organisation – empathy and compassion are held especially close throughout the services that Harmless offers. I am also passionate about campaigning for and developing compassionate mental health services and look forward to engaging more in this process as a member of the Harmless team.

I’ve also been impressed by the training team (Let’s Talk Training) after attending three of their courses: Mental Health First Aid, ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) and Working with Self-Harm. These courses have proved invaluable to me already, both on a personal and professional level. It is great to see how the training Harmless delivers feeds directly back into the work that we do, by helping to fund therapeutic and practical support free at the point of access.

I feel part of a great team, who are really committed to the work that they do, and have felt very much welcomed as one of Harmless’ newer members.

Support Errol who is raising vital funds for Harmless by running the 40 mile Ultra-Marathon

Errol was in a dark place, but he recovered with the help of his running club. Now he plans to run his first ultra-marathon (that’s 40 miles!) on Saturday 9th May, and he’s raising money for Harmless. We’re impressed, humbled, and extremely grateful.

Here’s what Errol has to say:

“Hi, my name is Errol. I am currently training to run the Dukeries 40mile ultra-marathon, the run is around Clumber Park and Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire. Although, as I’m finding out, ultras are all about finishing and not about times, I’m secretly hoping to get around in 7 hours. Just two years ago this would have been totally impossible, as up until January 9th 2018 I had not even began running.

The years preceding this point I had been lost in a battle with mental illness after quite a severe breakdown. This had taken everything from me, I had become a virtual recluse in my worst times. The side-effects of the medication had taken me over 20st. and due to self-medicating I had become addicted to alcohol.

Slowly and with much help I had started to turn the corner and was finding recovery, but it wasn’t until my teenage daughter called me fat and lazy in a teenage rant that I decided to try do something about how I had ended up physically.

In early 2018 I took up a running club’s c25k program. The first few weeks were horrid, both mentally and physically. I could barely run half a mile after two decades of very little cardio, but the support I got from the running club really helped get me going. I soon realized my recovery was going better the more I ran, so I took to doing it as much as I could. It’s been a fight all the way but one I have totally enjoyed. It’s a journey that’s helping me get good recovery and maybe helping me get back into the world.

I’m never going to be a great runner or a fast runner after the fights I have had, but after I learned what ultra-marathons were I just knew I wanted to test myself to find my limits and to get over them, and see some great countryside. If I can survive mental health battles and addictions why not try to push myself in something I’m beginning to love? And that’s helping save me

I was unsure about linking my first ultra to raising money for a charity, as I have become quite isolated over my illness and I was unsure it would go well, but I witnessed something on the way home the other day that was both extremely upsetting and sad to see, but also triggering to me and was a stark reminder of where the darkness can take people, especially concerning suicide.

Someone I know mentioned Harmless, and as soon as I looked into it I decided to try help if I could. It took ages for me to seek any kind of help, but without the help out there with mental health groups, therapy and my running club I wouldn’t be here today. I definitely wouldn’t be trying to run a 40mile ultra (gulp). The fact there are charities out there like Harmless will save lives. I just hope I can raise as much as I can for them.”

For more information about the race, go to www.hobopace.co.uk/dukeries-30-40/

If you’d like to support Errol and Harmless, go to www.localgiving.org/fundraising/my1stultra/ and help Errol smash his target!

The Day It All Went Wrong – A Story Of Strength

I stand on the brink of massive change again.  A feeling I know well enough, a feeling like I’m silently slipping without direction.  Although I am more used to it now the strength of my overwhelming emotions still completely flips me out and I am vulnerable once more.

Throughout my childhood and younger adult life I have experienced repeated trauma and abuse yet I somehow struggled through; an eternal optimist dreaming of a knight in shining armour who would rescue me and take me away from the life I had to live.  It was England in the 1980’s when children didn’t really have their own identity or rights.  I trusted in those I shouldn’t, some I should and an in an overwhelming connection to the earth through a universal purpose which seemed to somehow steer me away from adversity and into strength in the most unexpected ways.  I guess I was like a cat, but unlike a cat I seemed to have more than 9 lives!

It is this strength in adversity I wanted to talk about and I have wanted to share this story for many years but currently only have the courage to do so anonymously through the shame I feel but then I ask myself why do I feel ashamed?  I was poorly; do we feel ashamed to have physical illnesses?  Why is mental health any different?  I am hoping that by sharing about my experiences it will encourage others and encourage me to keep sharing.  I went through hell but have come out with a story I can use to hopefully help others.  The brink I currently stand on is not created within me but in the happy occasion of securing a Peer Support Role on a female inpatient ward at a mental health hospital.  It is important to note here that any massive change can be challenging; even a positive one and in my new role I will be the person I wished I had during my admissions, a person who understands and who has the time to talk.

My negative experiences led me to become very poorly over and over again and I can’t remember how many times I survived lethal overdoses, self-harmed significantly or ran away and I’m sure the eating disorder voice in my head will probably never be silent.  I had many psychiatric diagnoses up to 2011 including anorexia, bulimia, post-natal depression and chronic recurrent depressive disorder.  I have also had physical health issues all my life; scoliosis, hypermobility, congenital rib defect and poly-cystic ovaries then more recently osteopenia, osteoarthritis and radiologically isolated syndrome!  However, although that list sounds exhausting I am amazingly well with it all and can still walk, do exercise and enjoy life! I have fostered an attitude for gratitude and an annoyingly positive attitude.  However, this story is focusing on the day it all went wrong…

I took my first overdose aged 16 and struggled with overdoses thereafter as well as eating disorders and physical self-harm.  My early 30’s (a couple of years after the birth of my second child) I started with hospital admissions, after more acute life trauma, and by the time 2011 came around I had been in and out of inpatient mental health wards more times than I’ve had hot dinners.  One admission lasted around 6 months and I was offered ECT (which hubby thankfully talked me out of).  Every time the tablets didn’t help I was shoved on more medication and at one point I was on around 6-8 different medications.  It was amazing that I managed as well as I did because I was, quite frankly, off my face.

It was around this time the osteopenia was diagnosed after I stood up, twisted my ankle and broke straight across the two leg bones; I was put in a cast.  However, once the two weeks were up they didn’t put me in another full cast but one that could be taken off and my leg could be washed.  Sounds fair enough but it completely freaked me out and I started having psychotic breaks and hallucinations so badly that I gave up hope and I threw myself down the stairs.

In A&E I waited, waited and waited some more; eventually being sent for a mental health assessment.  I had arrived at the hospital early afternoon, had refused to eat or drink and by the time I had been transported and assessed it was around 2am (12 hours later!)  I have no memories and no idea what I said to the Psychiatrist but he let me go home (after assessing me with just us two in the room).  My Mother begged him to keep me in but I must have convinced him, somehow, that I would be OK.

We got home, I went upstairs and went straight out of the window.

I had broken my entire spine and skull needing metal rods inserting and I had three massive bleeds on my brain.  I now know that I was having a complete psychotic break on the day it all went wrong.  I received no support coping with life after spinal surgery or brain injury and because I was mentally unwell for some reason that was the medical world’s main focus.  I didn’t even know the extent of my injuries until I asked for my records a few years ago and I still relive the trauma of the fall in my nightmares and the window remains locked.

Recovery was hard and especially harder on a mental health ward not geared at all for the physical and mental health fusion; no person centred care.  It took days to get the right bed, my clothes all went missing, I struggled to get food and carry drinks, to get washed (asking for a bowl of warm water was like asking for gold) and some staff were truly horrible to me; you get the picture.  The treatment was so neglectful that when I was discharged around 4 months later my back wound was still open and infected because the nurses wouldn’t listen to me and change the dressing more frequently.  Nearly every morning I woke up with my own infected puss against my back meaning clothes and sheets needed constantly washing and changing which I couldn’t do.  It was appalling, they wouldn’t listen to me and to discuss it all I would need to publish a book.

The reason I am sharing this story though is because many amazing things came out of this experience;

  • I finally got a proper diagnosis – Borderline Personality Disorder which eventually let me access Mentalization Based Therapy which has revolutionised my life
  • Fracturing my skull led them to see a white spot on my brain which led to my diagnosis of Radiologically Isolated Syndrome for which I receive medical support
  • The complaint I made meant my local hospital started a mental health liaison team onsite which is now being rolled out nationally as RAID teams. The same hospital are now opening a separate area in A&E for people with mental health with its own entrance
  • The metal rods inserted into my back will help me stand straighter for longer with respect to my scoliosis
  • Although it was hard I got to spend a year at home with my husband
  • I joined my local service user network and helped design the new mental health hospital for our area, I co-deliver training to professionals on Personality Disorder and I wrote a course for the inpatient Recovery College
  • I am a published author on a UK website’s mental health pages
  • Plus much, much more and as an eternal optimist – there is more to come!

I am passionate about mental health and helping develop better strategies and outcomes for people who are NOT JUST their diagnosis.  It shouldn’t have to escalate to the level my illness did in order to get the correct help and diagnosis.  I am 44 years old and I have BPD, dissociative disorder and an acquired brain injury, but I am also a musician, cook, wife, Mother of two and own a very fancy cat named Oliver (my motivational kitty).  I work part-time in the NHS, am a trained Nursery Nurse, have level 2 Mental Health and Counselling, worked abroad in my younger years and love days out by the sea.  Let’s not forget who we are and who our patients are because they forgot who I was when they treated me like an animal.  I’m here to tell them otherwise and fight for those who cannot speak up!

To me, the journey of the soul is about connecting, disconnecting and re-connecting with ourselves and the world around us in a deep and meaningful way, as many times as we need.  It’s OK to have days we hide and days we shine and it’s OK to be silent as well as speak.  Without the pauses there would be no melody to our tunes.  Thank you for reading about the day it all went wrong for me and how it led things going right.

Harmless is the Nevile Arms Charity of the Year 2020!

This morning our colleague Pippa visited the Nevile Arms in Kinoulton to meet with staff about the exciting news that they have made us their Charity of the Year. It’s a lovely local pub in a small village to the south-east of Nottingham which offers a friendly atmosphere, good food, and has a thriving community. Last year they held a vote on Facebook, and their followers overwhelmingly voted for us.

They say:

“In a society where more and more people are suffering from mental health problems, Raw Pubs Ltd are thrilled to announce that they are supporting Nottinghamshire social enterprise Harmless. Over the next 12 months we will aim to raise as much money as possible to help make a difference and raise funds for such a worthwhile cause.

As a business which serves a community, for some people, we may be the only people they see for days at a time! This is why, with the help of Harmless, we are planning to educate staff on the signs of mental health issues, suicide prevention and helping those at risk of self harm.

The next 12 months are going to be a really exciting time for Harmless and Raw Pubs to see what we can do in a partnership and try to help our community, as well as those who need the service Harmless provides.”

We are looking forward to returning there to talk about what we do, take part in their fundraising Music Quiz, and meet more of the staff and locals.

For more information about the Nevile Arms, see their facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pg/NevileArmsKinoultonRP/

Thank you Happy Daze!

All of us here at Harmless & The Tomorrow Project would like to extend a big thank you to Alex and Craig Earley who run the Happy Daze shop in Beeston.

They have been doing some amazing fundraising in the form of a raffle over the past couple of months  to raise money for The Tomorrow Project.

They had a target of £500 but have totally smashed it to raise a fantastic £618 for our suicide prevention services!

Thank you to both Alex and Craig and to all those who purchased tickets for the raffle. Your amazing support really does help us to support more people in need and help us in our mission to save lives.

Want to know why you should get training with Harmless?

Harmless is a social enterprise. That means that we generate income to spend on social cause. Our social cause is saving the lives of people in distress.

Every day we see people who are at risk of suicide or who are contemplating ending their own life. We rarely get funding for this work.

Many years ago we had to decide whether or not we continue to try to save the lives of these people. The answer is obviously yes! However, in order to do so we have to make the money ourselves. This is why you should buy your training with our organisation. Not only does the training come with a high level of quality assurance and the content is responsive and useful; it actually saves lives. The money that we make through the sale of our training courses means that each day lives are saved.

So drop us a line and see how we can help you with your training needs whilst you see how you can help us to save the lives of those people who need us the most.

We look forward to working with you!

 

Email: training@harmless.org.uk

Phone: 0115 880 0281