BHT and Sussex Oakleaf complete merger
BHT and Sussex Oakleaf complete merger

As of today 1 April 2020, Sussex Oakleaf successfully completed its merger with Brighton Housing Trust (BHT). This has been achieved in spite of the coronavirus pandemic and has followed eighteen months of negotiations.

Both organisations have long histories of providing effective front-line services to those who need it most, and by joining together can support more people and have a greater impact.

Andy Winter, Chief Executive of BHT, is staying on to lead the newly merged organisation. He said:

We are truly excited for the opportunities that this merger will bring, not just to the development of the two organisations but more importantly to the people who we support and who we will be able to support going forward.

Sussex Oakleaf has been providing a range of well-respected mental health services for more than 25 years and we are delighted that their knowledge, skills and resources will be combined with those of BHT so that we may be able to better promote positive change within the communities in which we operate.

Day to day delivery of services remain unchanged as a result of the merger, although coronavirus is having some impact on service delivery. Service users, residents and tenants will continue to receive the same support and be able to rely on the contact details and websites they are used to.

The newly merged organisation will now provide its services across an area that reaches from Crawley and Horsham in the north of Sussex down to Brighton in the south and across the coast as far as Hastings in the east.

Services include one to one and group support for those struggling with their mental health, addictions or homelessness, specialist housing services and supported accommodation, and advice services in Brighton, Eastbourne and Hastings.

For more information about the merger, please visit our dedicated webpage which answers frequently asked questions, or email info@sussexoakleaf.org.uk.

Home for Christmas
Home for Christmas

Homelessness charities Sussex Oakleaf and Turning Tides have launched a new partnership with Mid Sussex District Council to combat homelessness in Mid Sussex. The new scheme is celebrating its first success as a local man moves into warm and safe accommodation just in time for Christmas, after nearly two years of homelessness when his only shelter was a tent.

Philippa Thompson, Chief Executive of Sussex Oakleaf said:

“Thousands of people sleep rough on the streets every night in the UK, and this is a growing, visible issue on the streets of Mid Sussex too.  Street homelessness is the tip of the iceberg, though. There are many more ‘hidden homeless’, who will be sofa surfing or in unsuitable temporary accommodation this Christmas and Sussex Oakleaf has a long history of supporting people at risk.

As the weather turns colder, the reality is that people will lose their lives while trying to survive on the streets.”

Sussex Oakleaf and Turning Tides are working with Mid Sussex District Council to implement projects which will provide accommodation to rough sleepers over the winter months and to provide the specialist, one to one support that they need to overcome mental or physical health problems or addictions.

With accommodation being provided by Sussex Oakleaf, Turning Tides will offer individuals support to stay off the streets and move on to more secure long-term housing.

Service Manager for Sussex Oakleaf, Jo Scott said:

“We are so delighted that we’ll be providing warm, safe and secure housing for long term homeless people this Christmas.

It is hard to imagine what it must be like to spend nearly two years living out of a tent surrounded by people with homes to go to but that is the reality for our first resident under this scheme. He literally cried for joy when he saw the room he would be staying in and I’m so pleased that we have been able to offer this support in time for Christmas.”

Head of Development for Turning Tides, April Baker said:

“We are pleased to be working in partnership with Mid Sussex District Council for the second year to support rough sleepers in the local community during the coldest months. Due to the success of the partnership and further funding in 2019 we welcome the further development through partnering with Sussex Oakleaf. This has already led to one individual being offered housing and intensive wrap around support between both organisations”

If you need advice on housing and support available, then you can call the Mid Sussex Housing Needs Team on 01444 477574 or Turning Tides on 01903 680740.

If you are struggling over the Christmas period, then you can also contact Samaritans on 116 123. This number is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Sussex Oakleaf is this year celebrating its 25th anniversary and supports hundreds of people with their mental health each year. If you would like to help support better mental health and end homelessness this Christmas then please make a donation at the link below.

A very crafty Christmas
A very crafty Christmas

Some of our very talented clients and volunteers recently organised and took part in a Christmas fair where they successfully raised nearly £500 to support Sussex Oakleaf!

The event, which took place in Crawley, gave clients, volunteers and members of the public a chance to celebrate better mental health and become involved in their local community.

Volunteers manned stalls where they sold goods made by the crafty groups which Sussex Oakleaf run in Crawley. There was also a selection of delicious looking homemade cakes and a raffle.

Sussex Oakleaf offer a range of groups and activities in Crawley aimed at promoting better mental health. The groups offer clients the chance to learn new skills, gain confidence and form supportive relationships among themselves.

To find out more about the groups Sussex Oakleaf offer or the support that we provide then please click here.

 

A very royal visit
A very royal visit

Sussex Oakleaf were recently honoured to receive an invite from Rape Crisis Surrey & Sussex to attend a visit from HRH The Duchess of Cornwall.

HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, who is a patron of Rape Crisis Surrey & Sussex, learned about Be OK - Sussex Oakleaf's youth mental health service and was truly interested in finding out about the work that Sussex Oakleaf do to support young people.

It was a real honour to meet HRH The Duchess of Cornwall. Working for Sussex Oakleaf has delivered some memorable moments over the years and this will stay with me for a long time.

It was fantastic to be able to talk our the work we do with young people and thrilling to see the genuine interest that HRH The Duchess of Cornwall took in the work we are doing.

We have been working alongside Rape Crisis Surrey and Sussex for a while now and truly value the services they provide so I am very grateful they invited us along for this event.

Martin - Be OK Youth Mental Health coordinator 

You can find out more about Be OK and the support we provide by clicking here.

Green tpkens at Waitrose
Green tokens at Waitrose

For the whole of the month of November, Waitrose in Horsham will be fundraising on behalf of Sussex Oakleaf. 

If you visit the store between now and November 30 then you can help to support better mental health in Sussex by dropping a green token in one of the collection points provided.

By placing a token in the Community Matters box at your local branch you’re helping your community. Since its launch in 2008, the scheme has donated over £30 million to good causes in store and online.

Each month, every Waitrose store donated £1,000 divided between three local causes. The number of coins collected during the month helps to determine how the money is divided up so do remember to drop your coin in the Sussex Oakleaf slot.

Be OK's big day out

Be OK - Sussex Oakleaf's youth mental health service - recently arranged for a group of clients to go on a fun day of outdoor activities at Holmbush near Crawley. From axe throwing to archery, clients had the opportunity to get active and do something fun and new.

Participants even got the chance to do blindfolded off road driving!

It was amazing to hear some of our more anxious and introverted clients talking about the day. They had so much fun and, with the support of their peers, took part in activities they would never have normally dreamed of doing.

The coach was quiet on the way there but was buzzing with laughter and conversation while heading back. As a Recovery Worker it was so rewarding to be a part of the day and see the impact it had on people.

David Floud - Youth Recovery Worker

Be OK is a free mental health service for people aged 16 to 25. We provide confidential support which promotes independence and helps to build resilience.

We can offer you support if you are aged 16 to 25, living in Crawley, Horsham or Mid Sussex and are:

  • Worried about your mental health and need advice or information
  • Have a mental health diagnosis and need help learning to cope
  • At college or university and struggling with your mental health
  • Moving from Children and Young People mental health services to adult services

You can find out more about the service and how to get support by visiting the link below:

Be OK - Youth mental health support 

 

 

 

Community Heroes

Fresh off the heals from winning a Stronger Communities Award from Mid Sussex District Council, Sussex Oakleaf's The Big Mental Health Pop Up has been shortlisted for an award from BBC Sussex & Surrey.

The music and arts award is given to an individual or organisation which showcases local creative talent.

Back in May 2019 Sussex Oakleaf turned a empty shop in the heart of Sussex into a pop up public space offering a mental health themed art exhibition, workshops and information about mental health.

All the artists involved in the exhibition had some experience of mental illness or mental health problems and the exhibition gave them an opportunity to challenge others as well as their own perception of their own limitations.

More that 700 people visited the exhibition which was open for a week and the feedback was excellent. Many conversations were had around mental health and the event got a whole community talking about the importance of looking after theirs and other mental health.

Just being shortlisted is a great result for Sussex Oakleaf. The project was a lot of hard work but the feedback we have received has been excellent. It was great to be able to give an opportunity to artists, many of whom were exhibiting for the first time.

- Dominic Goodeve - Marketing & Communications Officer

Award winners
Award winners

We're very excited to announce that we won the Mid Sussex Applauds Stronger Communities Award last weekend. 

The award, which recognises community groups and organisations which have helped to bring together cultures and communities through a local project or community activity, was given to Sussex Oakleaf following The Big Mental Health Pop Up earlier in the year. We are pleased to share first place with Spire Cafe IT Support who do amazing work improving the digital skills of local people.

The Big Mental Health Pop Up saw Sussex Oakleaf taking over an empty shop in Burgess Hill and turning it into a temporary art exhibition and public space. All the art work came from Sussex residents who have personal experience of mental illness and mental health difficulties. The space also allowed members of the public to find out more about mental health and the support available as well as attend a range of workshops organised by Sussex Oakleaf and partner organisations.

One of the artists involved told us:

“It’s been an incredible opportunity to produce some art around mental health and to speak to an array of people regarding the topic and even speak live on BBC radio.

As someone who suffers with mental illness daily, it was nice to have an outlet to express my views on the issues. It additionally made me realise that I’d love to use my story and my work to advocate for mental health.”

A huge thank you to everybody who nominated us and of course to everybody who helped make the project happen. If you would like to find out more about the awards and every body else who won then please click here.

World Mental Health Day
World Mental Health Day

Organised by the World Health Organisation, every 10 October is World Mental Health Day.

One in four of us will experience a mental health issue in any given year. But that means that every single one us likely knows someone who is struggling right now. In-fact, all of us have mental health, good or bad, and we all need to take the time to look after ourselves.

World Mental Health Day gives us the chance to shout about a topic that is so important to us. Hopefully we can all work together to start some conversations, raise some awareness and help someone to get the support that they need.

Sadly, for some of us, every day is a mental health day and the impact poor mental health has can be truly devastating. Sussex Oakleaf is this year celebrating 25 years of better mental health in Sussex and every year supports many people with their own mental health recovery.

On Monday 7 October we appeared on BBC Sussex to talk about mental health and the amazing work Sussex Oakleaf are doing alongside other organisations as part of the Pathfinder West Sussex project. You can hear the interview by clicking the link below and skipping to 8 mins and 19 seconds.

Listen to the BBC by clicking here.

You can also find out more about Pathfinder West Sussex by visiting there website here.

If you are in Crawley or nearby this Thursday then please come and find us at the Bandstand in the Memorial Gardens where our staff and volunteers will be on hand to answer your questions about mental health and direct you towards the best support. We will also be making and giving out stress balls so please come and grab yours!

Running for Sussex Oakleaf
Running for Sussex Oakleaf

Sussex Oakleaf are hugely grateful to Richard Boreham and his friends and family who are currently raising funds to support us. Richard is currently in training and will be running a half marathon next year, no small feat so well done!

They are already at 60% of their fundraising target which is absolutely amazing so lets helps them get over the line.

Richard said:

Nearly fourteen months ago Anne and I lost a much loved son Ricky through suicide. Our family lost a brother, uncle and one of our grandchildren has to grow up without his Dad. Our wider family lost a nephew, cousin and grandson.

I must admit I have taken a far deeper look at Mental Health since and it is shocking at the lack of funding and the number of people that appear to suffer in silence, in their own darkness. There are charities that want to help but they need funding and need to have their names put out in the public domain more so people know there is someone who wants to listen, who wants to help.

I want to raise money for Sussex Oakleaf in memory of Ricky.

We are very grateful to people like Richard who go out of their way to do something to support others. Together we can create a world where people with mental illness and mental health issues are inspired and supported to fulfil their potential and to live their lives as independently as possible.

To find out more about Richard's story and to make a donation then please just click the link below.