Finlay’s mental health journey

Finlay’s mental health journey

Finlay is currently supported by Certitude. He was in and out of mental health services from the age of seven to his early twenties, experiencing emotional volatility and obsessive compulsions, and an eating disorder. Eventually – after a period of recovery where he was able to go to university – Finlay had to leave his parents’ home and ended up homeless and sofa-surfing for five months.

Finlay told us how Certitude has made a difference to his life.

“I got sectioned again for a four-month admission – but then I came out and I came to Certitude. It’s been over a year now, and I’ve stayed out of hospital.

I do credit Certitude in that I’ve stayed out of hospital. I will probably always be mentally ill and have times where I regress, but overall it’s [mental health] been more stable with the staff, and the services Certitude offer and living in the house where there’s a general understanding among the people living there. Mustapha [the manager of the team that supports Finlay] is truly a very wonderful man.

I think Certitude is a wonderful organisation and I think organisations like Certitude have a phenomenal rate of lowering of hospital admissions for the people who move into their properties.

It’s mostly just knowing that there’s a staff member you can say hello to each day, combined with the solidarity exhibited among the tenants. I think that’s an incredibly powerful thing and it completely destroys the environment of alienation that you could experience if you lived outside of that support, which is just paramount to people living with mental illness.

While I do agree that there has been a move to more openness and acceptance of mental health issues and I think that’s wonderful, there is much more understanding towards people who have an episode of a mental health issue that is easily treatable. For example, someone who has temporary depression and they recover quickly, there’s been inroads and positivity towards those cases. But for the people who have severe issues there’s much less willingness among the general public to acknowledge them. This is especially true if someone’s behaviour is potentially violent.

Being in acute wards I’ve met people who have had periods of relapse, who are experiencing psychosis and that can be scary to be around. So I completely understand why people are weary and reluctant to acknowledge those situations, but I think they tend to be forgotten. There’s a very high readmission rate for people like this, they tend to have recurrent hospital admissions. But as soon as someone has a mental health issue that is less palatable, people tend to just basically refuse to acknowledge that they might be a victim.”

Finlay credits Certitude’s Supported Living team with helping him staying out of hospital. The majority of the work we provide is Supported Living, which focuses on supporting people to live in their own houses either on their own or with others.

Prioritise vaccinations for people with a learning disability – sign the petition

Prioritise vaccinations for people with a learning disability – sign the petition

As we know, people with learning disabilities are six times more likely to die from COVID-19 than the general population. 

It is crucial for people with learning disabilities to be prioritised in the vaccination roll-out programme.

Please sign this petition, so the government are made to listen and act on the strength of our voice. It will only take a few minutes, but the more people who sign, the greater the chance that we can make the government take the right action.

Behind the scenes of our TWENTY TWENTY film

Behind the scenes of our TWENTY TWENTY film

Our Connect & Do team began working with the Young Vic on their TWENTY TWENTY project in late 2019. The project aimed to produce a original play that would be put on in early 2021. 
While 2020 had different plans for all of us, the teams and members involved have adapted and the project went ahead a little differently; instead of a play, the team produced a film, which will be premiering this month! 
For now, please enjoy these behind the scene photos of our amazing Connect & Do members and The Young Vic’s team working on their film, ‘Even At Our Age’.
Keep an eye on our social media and website for more news on the film’s release!

The Michael Rosen Awards 2020

The Michael Rosen Awards 2020

In a year which has been filled with unexpected and unique challenges, it was so wonderful to be able to celebrate our amazing staff and volunteers in our annual Michael Rosen Awards last night!
We would like to congratulate this year’s Michael Rosen Award recipients and acknowledge all they have done for the organisation in 2020:

And the winners are…

Best Volunteer Award

Runner up: Shaun Lyons 
Winner: Kate Nicklin 

Inspiring Leader Award 

Joint winner: Juan Gallego 
Joint winner: Pauline Campbell 

Best Colleague Award 

Runner up: Bruno Powell 
Winner: Aisha Bhatti 

Transforming Lives Award 

Runner up: S’s team 
Winner: Carly Kirton 

Best Team Award 

Runner up: Tree House 
Winner: Old Oak Road and Ellingham Road team 

Special Recognition Award 2020 

The COVID Task Team

The Michael Rosen Award

Last night Sheila Rosen announced that the Community Development Team and Connect & Do Peer Facilitators are our 2020 Michael Rosen Award winners!

The Michael Rosen Award is the ultimate accolade in our annual awards ceremony. It is awarded to the person or team who the judging panel feels has truly gone above and beyond and best represents what makes Certitude such a great organisation.

Presenting the award, Sheila said:

“Without doubt, the winner of this year’s Michael Rosen Award has shown Certitude’s values – working together they have inspired each other and those around them and have definitely upped their game in terms of the work they do!

Up until March this year, their work focused on working directly with people – sharing interests, skills and an abundance of artistic talent. When the country went into lockdown, they quickly worked out how to carry on – but online!

Over the past few months, this small team along with talented peer facilitators have kept people across Certitude entertained, motivated and able to learn new skills and interests. From laughing yoga to singing, to art and design sessions, they have created a weekly programme of activities that are now available not just within Certitude, but to anyone, anywhere!”

Congratulations to
Congratulations to Jake, Jade, Rhona, Jess, Jeff, Sabine, Bertha, Lorna, Tasha, Ruby, Ide, Zeenat, Toyosi, Sorcha, Hetty and Shane!

We’d also like to give a special mention and massive thanks to the staff and paid facilitators who have given their time and talent to the Connect & Do Programme this year.

They are:

  • The choir masters, Edward and Theo
  • Janine Braun
  • Arlo and the team at The Gate
  • Jeanette, Judith and The Astley Team
  • Ahmed and Ali from the Connect & Do space in Lambeth
  • Derek Whitaker and The Arc Team
Well done to all the nominees, runner-ups and winners, and thank you to Sheila Rosen and family, without whose support our awards would not be possible.

Lambeth Alliance Progress Report

Lambeth Alliance Progress Report

The Living Well Network Alliance (the Alliance) has released its first progress report. 
The Alliance is a collaboration between five organisations: Certitude and Thames Reach (voluntary sector); NHS Lambeth Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) – now part of South-East London CCG; South London & Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM), and Lambeth Council. Our aim is to bring together everyone involved in mental health services in Lambeth.
The Alliance’s Progress Report lays out the priority outcomes and how the different organisations involved are working to achieve them. For example, Certitude is highlighted as working to achieve the priority outcome of increasing the number of people able to live independently, and you can see the case studies from our teams that explain how we are working to do this.
The Alliance’s ultimate goal is to improve a system creaking under the strain of increasing demand and tight budgets, and failing to successfully meet Lambeth’s needs – two years in, we’ve made a great start but we still have a lot to do!
Be sure to let us know what you think, either over on Twitter or by emailing us at!

The BAPS Awards 2020!

The BAPS Awards 2020!

For the second year running, Certitude is delighted to have supported the Bloody Awesome Parents (BAPs) Awards recognising the achievements in community support.
Working across London as a part of so many diverse, brilliant communities, we know first-hand the impact great community support can make on people’s lives. So, sponsoring the Community Support Award seemed a perfect fit.
At the online awards event on Wednesday 4 November, Certitude’s CEO, Aisling Duffy announced the winner of the award…
Huge congratulations to Wouldn’t Change a Thing! 
One of the comments about Wouldn’t Change a Thing demonstrates the impact they have had: 
“The team behind Wouldn’t Change a Thing have done absolute wonders for the Down Syndrome community; they are stomping forward in helping to massively change perceptions around Down Syndrome. 
They run campaigns that include children from the online community, the campaigns are always done in such a way that it’s fun but very much highlights just how amazing being blessed with a child with Down Syndrome can be. 
They are awaiting charity status and have recently produced a book featured children and adults with Down Syndrome. For every copy sold they donate a copy to a setting or new parents, this is going to do massive things for the community as new parents will be gifted a book that isn’t doom and gloom, that highlights what an amazing journey they are just starting.” 
Congratulations again to Wouldn’t Change a Thing and to all nominees and winners of the awards last night!

Certitude supporting more people across three London boroughs

Certitude supporting more people across three London boroughs

Supporting people living in Camden

On Thursday 1 October, we began supporting people who have learning disabilities and/or autism living in the south of the London Borough of Camden. This includes providing accommodation-based support that enables adults with learning disabilities and/or autism to have a home close to family and live as independently as possible.

Our support will mean that these people can continue to live the lives they want. We’re looking forward to getting to know them and their families over the coming weeks and months.

Residents move into new Ham housing development

The first tenants will be moving into a new supported-living housing development for young adults with a learning disability and/or autism in Ham in the next few days.

We’ve been working with Richmond Council and PA Housing to deliver this innovative and exciting new housing development, which incorporates assistive technology to allow young people to live their lives with greater independence. The new development is made up of three one-bedroom flats (plus carer accommodation) in a small two-storey block, plus a two-bedroom bungalow that includes a carer bedroom.

Gianluca Zucchelli, our Head of Service, said:

“Our specialised team will be offering personalised support using assistive tech and cutting-edge support methods. Being partners of this project since design stage means we have created an environment that incorporates our expertise of supporting people to flourish and become more independent.”

You can read more about the Ham development here.

Supporting more people in Hillingdon

As of 1 October, we are delighted to be supporting up to 45 people across six properties in Hillingdon. Most people are living in their own one-bedroom flats and will continue to be supported by experienced staff who have developed positive relationships with individuals and their families. We aim to build on this support and welcome everyone – tenants, families and staff, into Certitude. 

Melissa Layton, Head of Service, and Ziki Gwatiringe, Area Manager, are leading on the new contract. Mary Schumm, Director of Learning Disabilities, said: 

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to broaden our reach in Hillingdon and enable more people to benefit from the skills and expertise we have to offer at Certitude, supporting people to live great lives. I’m looking forward to meeting everyone, including their support teams, and wish them a very warm welcome to Certitude.”

This star fundraiser just walked the London Marathon in the rain

This star fundraiser just walked the London Marathon in the rain

Over the weekend, Kate completed the London Marathon in what was a very different and wet kind of event this year. Kate works with young adults with additional educational needs, and so is especially passionate about the work we do supporting people with learning disabilities and autism throughout London. 
Here she speaks about her experience of completing the marathon with her friends over one very rainy Sunday:
On a very grey and wet morning on Sunday 4th October I set off from the Thames Barrier to begin my Virtual London Marathon for Certitude London. I was joined by five friends, some completing it for other charities and some just for the experience. 
At points it was more of an obstacle course to avoid puddles but it added to the experience!
The rain stayed with us for the entire day but it didn’t dampen our spirits: we laughed the entire way around and knowing that I was supporting Certitude kept me motivated and moving.
By the time we finished the sun had set on a very wet London skyline but We Did It!! And to give you all a giggle – I didn’t realise until I saw the photos afterwards that I had walked around London resembling Big Bird from Sesame Street! And now I’m looking forward to running the London Marathon for Certitude in October 2021. 
Thank you to everyone who has donated to my fundraising efforts – I really appreciate it!
Thank you so much to Kate for undertaking this massive challenge! If you would like to show Kate some support, please head over to her JustGiving page here. 
Every penny raised will go back into the work we do supporting people in London with learning disabilities, autism and mental health needs to live the lives they want!

Kate Nicklin is our London Marathon runner!

Kate Nicklin is our London Marathon runner!

Kate is a teacher at a school in Lewisham for children with additional educational needs. She’s passionate about people getting consistent support throughout their lives. Kate tells us about her marathon efforts:

“On Sunday 4 October 2020 I was due to be running the postponed London Marathon on behalf of Certitude London. However, due to COVID-19 it isn’t to be; the organisers have made the hard decision to postpone the marathon until October 2021. I will be running it in 2021 for Certitude but in the meantime want to continue to try and fundraise as charities rely on event such as this and have missed out on so much this year. 

“So, on Sunday 4 October 2020 I will be completing the London Marathon virtually, albeit walking the distance! I will be setting off at 8.30am from the Thames Barrier, walking the Thames Path as much as possible to Lambeth Bridge, crossing the river and returning down the other side completing the distance at the O2. You can find out more about how this year’s ‘virtual’ marathon is working here.

“I teach young people and teenagers with Special Educational Needs so the work Certitude does is close to my heart and I really want to promote what they do in supporting people and their families in London.

“I will be taking plenty of photos along the route and will share them with you all after the event.

“If you can support my fundraising efforts in any way possible I would greatly appreciate it! You can contribute through my JustGiving page.”

See you at the finish line!

Certitude to start supporting people living in Camden

Certitude to start supporting people living in Camden

Certitude is delighted to shortly begin supporting people who have learning disabilities and/or autism living in the London Borough of Camden. 
From 1st October, we will be supporting people living in the south of the borough and are looking forward to getting to know them and their families over the coming weeks and months. 
This includes providing accommodation-based support that enables adults with learning disabilities and/or autism to have a home close to family and live as independently as possible. 
Mary Schumm, Certitude’s Director of Learning Disability Services says, “We are excited to be supporting people living in Camden to continue living the lives they want. We have started working alongside other partners and providers in the borough to ensure that together we are able to provide the best possible support to people.” 
Cllr Pat Callaghan, Cabinet Member for a Healthy and Caring Camden said: “This new partnership with Certitude will help us build on our work to support people with learning disabilities whilst enabling them to live as independently as possible. We’re delighted to be working with them on this support offer which I’m certain will shape the lives of many of our residents.”