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New Year, New Me

Take Charge at Innovate Trust

Take Charge want to wish everyone a very happy new year! We have been supporting our participants through the start of 2022 by providing two new sessions. Our participants often report feeling low in January after the high of the December festivities. We have been working with them to give their wellbeing a boost ahead of what is sure to be another eventful year.

It has been proven that a healthy body and a healthy mind makes a happy life so with that in mind we held a mental health and a healthy living session this January.

Our first session was a Mental Health Work Relevant Certificate. We felt this was appropriate as many of our participants find January difficult. Covid-19 and the added stress this brings, especially after Christmas, means that many people are feeling particularly low. With that in mind we decided to try out our new Mental Health Work Relevant Certificate with our participants to give them that much needed boost.

Our staff in the Skills and Wellbeing Team complete a yearly Mental Health at Work Certificate and have found this very helpful. We felt that our participants deserved the same. We incorporated the key points from the staff certificate into our WRC whilst adding information specific to those with learning disabilities.

We covered a wide range of mental health topics including how to improve mental health, the benefits of improving mental health, symptoms of anxiety and depression and where to seek help. Inclusivity is so important to us and we were really keen to make a more accessible version of our staff training for our participants to benefit from too.

Unfortunately, people with learning disabilities often have a higher risk of mental health issues. This is often due to the lack of opportunities and accessible information on mental health they have in their lives.

Take Charge was able to educate our participants on the benefits of improving their mental health in a way that they found useful. Many of our participants felt comfortable enough to share their own mental health struggles with us. As a group, our participants were really supportive of each other. Without these group sessions, our participants wouldn’t have had the chance to share their thoughts with other likeminded people in such a supportive setting.

Our new WRC was such as success that we will continue to provide this session in 1:1s with any new participants we may have throughout the year. Mental health provision extends throughout the year; we have found this new session is an excellent way to support people with their mental health who would have otherwise received no support on this issue.

Our second session of the year was on healthy living. In this session we focused on the more physical aspects of health by including advice on smoking, alcohol, balanced diets and getting a good night’s sleep.

We discussed the effects of passive smoking by sharing a simple video on the topic. We then went on to discuss the current anti-smoking laws we have in Wales and whether our participants felt that changes needed to be made.

Take Charge aims to empower people to voice their opinions on important topics. This is something we could help with in this session. One of our participants, a smoker, noted that he would like to cut back his cigarette intake. This project provided him with the knowledge to be able to do this.

Our section on healthy eating came next with a fun quiz on balanced diets, recommended fruit and veg intake and recommended fluid intake. We used lots of pictures to aid our explanations of more complex concepts including the size of a portion of fruit or veg. Our participants were interested to learn why a balanced diet was so important.

Many of our participants hadn’t had the opportunity to learn about this thus often preferring to eat their favourite foods. Understanding why this isn’t the best idea will enable them to make the right decisions in the future, contributing positively towards their health and wellbeing.

Another section our participants enjoyed was on the effects of drinking alcohol. We helped our participants to understand how many units were in various drinks and how easy it was to inadvertently binge drink.

We provided a welcoming, supportive atmosphere so our participants felt safe when talking about this potentially difficult topic.

Our final section of our session involved our participants sharing with each other some tips on how to get a good night’s sleep.

Our participants benefitted from being able to support each other by sharing what works well for them. Communication skills and sharing experiences is important and something this project could facilitate.

This new year, Take Charge was able to provide the tailored support some of the most vulnerable people in our community needed to look more positively towards the future. Our holistic approach covered physical as well as mental health in an accessible way to ensure we could achieve our aim of improving our participants’ wellbeing. These two sessions were really beneficial for our participants, giving them the support they needed to continue on their journey towards employment.