18 October 2019

Over 140 people attended ELFT's combined Annual General Meeting and Annual Members Meeting on 9 October. The meeting took place in Hamilton House in Kings Cross/Euston as a central place for people coming from Bedfordshire, Luton or East London to easily get to.

Working in Partnership Theme
The theme was 'Working in Partnership' and workshops focused on the various partners and organisations that ELFT works with to support service users and their families.  This includes charities (Orchid Prostate Cancer charity), the police (Compassionate Policing), faith leads  and service users/people participation. (There is more information about the workshops at the end of this article.

Keynote Speakers
Neil Churchill, Director for Experience, Participation and Equalities, NHS England, and Samira Ben Omar, from NW London Collaboration of CCGs were the keynote speakers. They spoke of their work with local communities affected by the Grenfell fire and the importance of working with existing networks on the ground. What people found helpful and what didn't.

Party Bags!
Attendees had a treat when they returned from their workshops to find 'party bags' on their chairs with a drink, cake and a piece of fruit, and other goodies. These caused a frisson of excitement and were a hit with everyone.

Thank you to everyone who attended, presented, hosted a stall or was involved in the planning and organisation of the event. The Annual Report and Annual Report Summary can be found on 

Compassionate Policing The Compassionate Policing workshop led by Trust Security Management Specialist Richard Harwin and police colleagues from Bedfordshire, Luton and east London was well attended and very informative. They explained how their emphasis has been on providing better training for police officers in order for them to understand how to deal with someone who is experiencing a mental health crisis.

Police colleagues also described how an emphasis on greater partnership working between mental health specialists and police officers helps to support mental health staff and service users. Police officers now take part in regular team huddles so that joined up, multi-agency care is in place. The workshop also explored the new Serenity Integrated Mentoring (SIM) model which is currently being rolled out nationally. This is a model of care which utilises specialist police officers within community mental health services to support a select number of service users, particularly those who have a history of being detained under Section 136 orders.

A service user present at the workshop  who had previous experience of working with a SIM officer said that the initiative “... has literally saved my life."

Partnering With Charities National male cancer charity Orchid showcased a new film which takes an uncensored approach to the everyday difficulties faced by Black men diagnosed with prostate cancer.

The film A Letter to my Unpresented Self - one man’s personal journey with prostate cancer is a short drama that follows bus driver Terrence’s journey as he struggles to come to terms with his prostate cancer diagnosis.  Prostate cancer affects around one in four Black African and Black Caribbean men in the UK, twice the rate of other men

Nigel Holligan who was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer in his late 50s, shared his experiences to help produce the film and spoke with guests at the annual meeting. He said, “It is so important to change attitudes, especially in the Black community, as traditionally prostate problems are not talked about openly.”

People Participation  Paul Binfield, Associate Director for People Participation delivered a workshop session informing delegates about the value of People Participation to help improve service delivery and empower service users in their position. Adrian and Craig told their stories about why and how they became part of the People Participation team. They both spoke about how being part of People Participation helped them with their confidence and self worth. Knowing that they (Craig and Adrian) are helping to shape health services provides them will an important responsibility. in particular, Craig talked about how People Participation given his life 'meaning'.

Delegates asked questions such as how is People Participation funded and how can they become part of it. There was also a great appreciation of People Participation - people began to tell unfortunate personal stories of how they were treated with dealing with the NHS where People Participation would have been helpful.   

Partnership With Faith Leads Dr Nigel Copsey, Team Leader for Spiritual Care in ELFT, and colleagues from the Department of Spiritual, Religious and Cultural Care, including Muslim Coordinator Imam Qamruzzaman Miah, Rev Stephen Chandler, Christian Coordinator and Rev Phil Warburton, Leader of the Geoff Ashcroft Community, shared  their experience working with ELFT services as part of the  'Partnership With Faith' workshop.  The role of the team is to cater for service users from all faiths by visiting in-patient units weekly and developing community resources including educational programmes with faith communities.The team ensures that the freedom of expression of all faiths is respected and integrated into the care of service users.

The work of the department includes supporting service users with their recovery as well as being available to be alongside those persons who are near the end of their lives by offering appropriate spiritual support. Nigel said, "I am extremely grateful to be working in a multi-faith team. I have gained a greater understanding of people and of the richness of all faith traditions."