A Warm Welcome and Hope You are Keeping Safe and Well We have lots of news and opportunities for you in our latest newsletter, including an invite to our AGM, some free courses for those looking to gain some skills for employment opportunities, updates on services and support available.
Check out your chance to nominate a member of staff from a mental health or drug and alcohol service to receive a lovely big bunch of flowers as a big thank you on your behalf. You could also win a £20.00 gift voucher if your nomination is selected. Lois will tell you more below in the Executive Directors update below.
We’d love to see you at our AGM! The SUN Network team are still working from home at the moment as per the government guidelines, but it is really important to us that we stay in touch. We are planning our AGM and would love to celebrate the successes of the last year with you. The date is 20th July at 2.30pm. It will be held via Teams online and we would love to see you there so we can share what we have been up to this last year. To come along to the meeting just click the link at 230pm on 20th July. Join Microsoft Teams Meeting
The agenda is as follows:
Apologies for Absence
Minutes of 2019 AGM
A word from our Chair
Annual report Executive Director
Annual Accounts – Executive Director
Lived Experience speaker Mental Health – David Lee
Lived Experience Speaker Drugs & Alcohol – Iain Bell
Register of Interests
Any Other Business
We will ask permission to take screen shots on the day to share on our social media. If you are having any trouble accessing the link on the day please let us know on 07712 358172 and we will help you as best we can. You don’t need to stay if you join and want to leave, and if you join partway though that’s fine too, we’d just love to see you there.
Contents: Executive Director’s update from Lois Wellbeing Blog from Charlotte Update from Anne
Update from KC
Selfcare in The SUN Network Community
Other support services
Some fun to break up your day
An update from Lois – Executive Director
I hope everyone is safe and well and enjoying the beautiful weather we’ve been having. I can hardly believe Spring has been and gone already.
As the world begins to recover from the last few months and we are allowed more freedoms to socialise, we at the SUN Network have been social distance meeting our service users face to face in parks, and it’s been lovely to see people face to face.We are still working hard to ensure that you are kept up to date with all the local support available from mental health and drugs and alcohol services in this ebulletin and we have a link to some very honest and moving addiction recovery stories in KC’s update.Those of you who follow Charlotte’s blogs will know that she is passionate about self-care so she has written about wellbeing and Anne has an update on all our feedback gathered so far this year.We also have been involving people with lived experience in the meetings we attend with commissioners and other services (virtually at present) and it’s been fantastic to see representation there and hear their thoughts on Mental Health and Addiction. We are always keen to involve more people so if you think you’d like to attend a meeting and find out what happens and how decisions are made, contact us on 07712 358 172 or at firstname.lastname@example.orgEating Disorders – There is work currently underway to improve the Eating Disorders services and we are inviting you to a series of workshops for those experiencing eating disorders (past or present) and carers of people with eating disorders to come along and give your thoughts and opinions to help services get it right first time. If you would like to attend one of these virtual groups, please email me at email@example.com or call/text/Whatsapp me on 07712 358172. Your voice makes a difference.
We are running a fabulous online opportunity for you to say a big thank you to a member of staff from a drug and alcohol or mental health service who you think deserves a gift for doing a great job from your experience of them, and if your nominee wins, they get a lovely big bunch of flowers and you also get a £20.00 gift voucher of your choice for nominating them. You can nominate someone here https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/Bigthanks
Considering employment and looking to upskill? Then check out the amazing FREE courses on offer from Ixion Holdings (Shaw Trust) to help you prepare for employment.
A big thank you to Hunts Forum for highlighting us as one of the small charities of the month in their last newsletter and also for helping us secure a one off little pot of funding so that we can continue to support involvement opportunities. Our work supporting involvement and amplifying the service user voice is so important and the support from Hunts Forum is much appreciated.
Don’t forget you can still WhatsApp your feedback on your current experiences, or ask questions about services to 07712 358 172
Keep safe and stay well everyone.
Wellbeing Blog from Charlotte
We have had lots of feedback around how people are staying well during this lockdown which I would like to share with you all. Maybe you have tried some or will be inspired.
Keeping mood diaries. These links will take you to free mood diaries and wellbeing apps. They look quite colourful and easy to use, do let us know if you try them and how you get on. Here’s Daylio and here’s MoodTrack.
Trying out Yoga, Mindfulness, and puzzles. If you enjoy games and puzzles, this website has lots of different things for you to try out. This link is to a useful blog post, that gives you tips, information and has useful video’s to help you get started with mindfulness meditations.
Going for a walk
Listening to music and watching relaxing videos. Here are some links to relaxing music and videos to watch and listen to too help you wind down and centre yourself. These videos can be useful to practice mindfulness and meditations too also. Here’s a relaxing video and here’s relaxing music/sounds.
Social distance meetings with friends, families and colleagues
Switching off to the news. Give yourself a break from doom and gloom
Wellbeing is more than the activities we do. It is the habits we have in our lives that contribute to our overall wellbeing and also the way we speak to ourselves. It’s important to have a positive internal dialogue with ourselves. This is quite simply the way you speak to yourself and think of yourself. During these challenging times, it is easy to fall into the negativity that we are exposed to, so it is important to go easy on ourselves. You deserve to love yourself and have a good relationship with yourself so create a positive inner dialect and be kind to yourself. You deserve it.
Here is a weeks’ worth of kind things you could try saying to yourself:
I am enough
I believe in myself
I am a tough person who can get through the toughest of times
My past does not define me
I am more than my appearance
I love and accept myself
Here are some suggestions to consider if you wanted to improve your wellbeing:
Today is as good as any to start taking charge of your well-being, no time is ever a good time so why wait? Challenge your negative thoughts and turn them into a positive.
Make connections with friends and family who lift you up, if it is safe to do so then visit them and have a socially distanced catch up.
Get out in nature to see and hear how beautiful the world still is. Really pay attention to what you can see and hear. Stop and look around you. Look at the colours in nature. Natures eco-system is incredible. Everything has a purpose.
Take pictures to remind yourself of the beauty around you. Share the pictures with others.
Get physically active. Allow your body to work out some of the stressors you are experiencing and fill yourself with feel good hormones.
Learn something new, teach yourself and develop your skill set doing something you enjoy. I have been doing a free online course via this website and I have found it easy to use. On YouTube I searched ‘How to make crafts’ and there were so many options that came up. Have a look at this link to see what videos are avaliable.
Give to others where you can, even if it’s a conversation as you’re in a shop or volunteering somewhere, acts of kindness and giving can really boost your wellbeing.
Be mindful. Practise mindfulness. Give yourself the time of day every day, to sit and connect with your mind, body and soul. Listen to what your body is saying and breathe. Here is another useful link to a helpful mindfulness website, where it explains what mindfulness is, the benefits of mindfulness and gives you tips. Here is a video with some breathing techniques for you to watch. I found videos can be easier to follow then reading some text but its about finding what works for you.
Live a healthy life, with a balanced diet and plenty of water to hydrate yourself. Here is some information for foodbanks in Cambridgeshire here or here, and in Peterborough.
Get some sleep. Make a sleep routine and stick to it. Let your body rest. Get an early night, relaxing bath, warm milky drink, fresh bedlinen and relax with a good book.
Look after yourself and do at least one thing a day that is for you. Pamper yourself, watch your favourite films, cook or bake, get creative. Do something each day that your tomorrow self will thank you for. Remind yourself that you deserve it.
Talk to someone about how you are feeling or write a journal, get it out. Seeing it on paper or hearing you speak of your challenges can be refreshing and allow you to seek appropriate help. (helplines here Lifeline, Samaritans, Saneline, etc)
If you are lucky enough to own pets or be around animals, spend some time with them. Play with them, go on walks with them, take pictures and have cuddles. Your companions will enjoy the time you get to have together more than you may know.
An Update From Anne
It is good to be able to write to you all. It has been such a long, unusual and challenging time and I cannot believe we are already in June.
Since the beginning of lockdown, the SUN Network team have been working from home. We have been working hard alongside many organisations to ensure your voice has continued to be heard and where possible facilitate opportunities for individuals to be involved in influencing and shaping mental health services throughout Cambridgeshire by attending online meetings with commissioners and services.
For many months (adhering to government guidelines) we have not met up with anyone in person, which is generally a huge part of our roles. As the rules start to relax and life slowly, step by step, returns to normal we are once again looking to enable face to face contact. It is to our advantage that it is summer, and the weather is good overall. If you are interested in meeting one of the team, Lois, Charlotte, Me (Anne) or K.C. face to face then we would love to hear from you. If you have anything to share about your lockdown experience positive or negative we would be happy to listen. You may have found something new in your life that has helped you, or you may have felt you need some support but had no idea where to go for help. Please get in touch through firstname.lastname@example.org and we can let you know what support is out there for you.
Please read our face to face contact guidelines for meeting up.
Although cafes and restaurants will be opening, who ever you meet up with will discuss with you whether these are a viable option for a meet up
We will be adhering to the social distancing rules. I know this is going to be relaxed to one meter but this might need to remain 2 meters depending on the team members personal circumstances
Meet ups will primarily occur outdoors, in an open space. For example, a park or a green etc
Please be aware you may need to walk somewhere to find a quiet open space, and if there is no seating, we may be sitting on the grass
We may be able to meet up in your garden, if we can access that garden externally and there is the ability to remain 2 meters apart
The team member you meet with may request to take your temperature (with a non-contact thermometer) and be wearing a face mask and gloves
It is not how we like to normally carry out our meet ups, but it is important, to ensure you and our team are all kept as safe as possible. Hopefully even with these guidelines you will get in touch and arrange a face to face meeting? email@example.com or call/text/whatsapp 07712 358 172 We look forward to hearing from you.
An Update From KC
I’ve been involved in recovery groups for a couple of years. The fancy formal jargon is ‘mutual support’ groups. Last week we were talking and listening to each other (as we do) and it dawned on someone that there’s something powerfully therapeutic about beingheard. Telling your story, being honest about your feelings, letting out the things you find difficult, even the things you are ashamed of, or maybe it’s your gratitude and thankfulness. It’s hard to describe the powerful, sometimes tangible experience of being in a room where someone is being honest and others are listening with care and acceptance. Advice and answers aren’t really the aim. Somehow I benefit and am nourished by connecting and knowing sometimes I’m offering some nourishment too. It can build everyone’s confidence to contribute to these safe groups with a mission to help oneself and others who are struggling.
Recovery: Hearing so many stories over the last few years, I’ve been amazed at the resilience and courage of so many people. It’s been heart-breaking hearing of so much trauma, abuse, neglect and poverty. But there is such resilience in the human spirit.
Story: I talked to a lady last month who decided recently that she would wean herself off the one large bottle of gin she needed to drink daily. She couldn’t get into a residential detox during the covid-19 lockdown, so she researched alcohol withdrawal and taught herself what to expect. She had the page up on her computer screen outlining what would happen, and it did. First, sweats, shakes and cramps. Then nausea and sickness (at first her body’s strong reaction to not getting the needed alcohol meant expulsion of her food through her mouth, I get the impression, though she didn’t say it in so many words, that later it came out the other end). She had other symptoms from the damage alcohol had done to her body, but she had done a lot of physical exercise over the years and had some advantages too. She reduced her drinking and suffered the detoxification at home one her own, ticking off all the stages of withdrawal. She experienced them just as they were listed on her computer screen. She survived them all and now she’s detoxed and somehow managed to avoid taking that one drink—which would have relieved the withdrawal pain, but put her back in where she started. She didn’t do it all by herself. She had kind and understanding professionals on the other end of the phone encouraging and supporting her. The Drug & Alcohol support worker asked her if she needed a doctor at one point, but she knew her body and she knew she would be alright. But there was one more person who helped. This lady was in her house on her own the whole time, but it was her 9-year-old son who was on her mind through all the physical, emotional and existential pain. Hoping she could get sober was her goal and her motivation was the love of a mother for her son. Simple. Universal. Powerful.
She’s been sober for six weeks now and I asked her how she does it. She said when she really wants a drink she gets in her car (careful to not take any money as she passes places where she could buy alcohol), takes her dogs on an hourlong walk around a lake near her home. She says by the time she finishes her walk the urge to drink has always passed. The more times she does this, the better she feels. She does other exercise and she finds that building her own support network is very important as well. She knows who she can count on for different kinds of support. It’s not something to attempt on your own—even during lockdown.
This is one of the many stories I’m privileged to hear working for the Service User Network. Hearing these stories inspires me and reminds me how strong people can be.
Here are some videos where you can hear, in their own voice, stories of real people grappling with their own lifelong challenges that can destroy lives (literally, and figuratively), but don’t worry, there’s plenty of hope: Addiction Recovery Stories
Selfcare In The SUN Network Community
Detox got T through the initial withdrawal and was a big help for her clean start. While there her confidence grew as she was asked to take a turn with a role of responsibility where she found herself confronting and challenging those she lived with, who were all seeking recovery together. Everyone’s going through stress and struggles, but she found a new confidence as the staff believed in her and she exercised the responsibility she had been given to help her newfound temporary community. T’s been out of detox/rehab for a few months and the next challenge is to use the tools and momentum she’s been given out in the ‘real world’ and keep strengthening herself with those tools.
Her birdhouse project is a good creative project to build confidence and express creativity while working with her hands. It’s a good use of time during lockdown, and she might get to enjoy seeing some birds nearby as well.
T’s making her birdhouse is a little like building her recovery. She needed tools and finding the best ones that she was comfortable made a big difference.
AA (Alcoholics Anonymous), NA (Narcotics Anonymous), SMART Recovery and Change Grow Live (CGL) groups are good choices of tools that all have different strengths and benefits.
T’s enjoyed making good progress, but like anything worthwhile, there were frustrations and setbacks. She decided to tweak the roof as it worked much better undoing and redoing part of it. It can be frustrating, and feel counterproductive, but don’t we all have to go back and make changes in our own lives in order to get on track sometimes?
This creative endeavour is a great picture of recovery. It’s unique, it serves a function while being beautiful to behold. It makes the world a little nicer place to be and it can put a smile on the face of the person who made it as well as others.
Feedback Summary We Have Received This Quarter (April, May,June)
Over the past 3 months the Sun Network team have been working hard to stay in touch with people and listen to individuals feedback about their mental health journey, the fears and challenges they have encountered through Covid-19 and what they have been doing to keep well.
The feedback we have received about services during Covid-19 has been mixture of positive and negative.
Some people have felt cautious about taking new or different medication without being able to have a discussion with a professional practitioner
It was felt that services were slow to get up to speed with news ways of operating and delivering their service
There has not been enough contact, to check in with people and inform people of what is available and how to access the support that is available
Many people have felt lonely, and isolated and not known where to turn for help.
Communication and signposting has not been effective and people are not aware of where they can find help
More services should be offering online consultations and support meetings.
Individuals have felt there has not been enough support for Dual Diagnosis or those with a Personality Disorder
Many have reported that when they have tried to access support there is an even longer waiting time than usual
Some positive feedback has been:
People have embraced online group meetings and appreciated the ability to connect with others
Those accessing CGL for drug and alcohol support felt that they were quick to respond with online groups available
GP’s have been highly praised for the support offered
Others have feed back positively about the Lifeline plus service that is now available through CPSL Mind and Lifecraft.
People have found the services that have provided online support to be a positive experience
If you have an experience with Mental Health or Drug and Alcohol services through Covid-19 then we would love to hear from you. Please get in touch by contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call/text/whatsapp 07712 358 172
Other Support Resources
We are asking all local mental health and drug and alcohol services to let us know what support they can currently offer. We put that information on Keep Your Head so please keep checking it out here.
Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence partnership (DASV) has lots of links to different help available here. The following link also has lots of useful resources for domestic abuse related issues.
Keep Your Head – is like a one stop shop for free mental health support and information across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.
Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings – lots of the NA meetings are available online while physical meetings are not possible at the moment. This link has information on those meetings and how to access them.
Keep Your Head is a great resource for all things mental health, and during this difficult time we are doing our best to keep the website up to date with which services are running and where you can go for support in these difficult times.