Richard – The man behind the photograph

If you follow us on social media, you might already recognise our colleague, Richard. He has gained a bit of celebrity status here at Evolve thanks to his prominent presence in our winter appeal. We reveal the man behind the photograph and find out about the service he is managing.

Richard’s career at Evolve began over three years ago. Working with ex-offenders and gang members at our Stockwell service, as an enhanced senior support worker.

“If anyone’s ever been to our Stockwell service, they’d know it was a very busy and vibrant place. I enjoyed my time there.”

Richard then received a promotion to team leader at Alexandra House, an adult service in Croydon. Last April, he then took on the role of team manager at our mental health step-down service (MHSD).

“I admit, I was apprehensive stepping into this role, knowing there were big shoes to fill. But with the support of the team, I navigated through it. When you work in a service like this, you realise you can’t do everything alone. You need extra support and when it’s there, it just makes everybody’s life easier.”

The MHSD service comprises three properties situated across Croydon – Eva House, Emily House, and Crocus House. South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust refer customers and provide a comprehensive risk assessment that outlines the individual’s mental health history.

“ It is important to have a well-documented insight into the potential customer because it allows us to understand their background, whether they have been hospitalised, and what their triggers are. As a step-down service, we expect individuals to come to us with a certain level of stability. This provides us with a base from which we can support them to get to a place of independence, managing their mental health.”

Customers come to MHSD with various diagnoses including psychosis, schizophrenia, eating disorders and self-harm. On average they stay for 14 to 18 months.

“We  try as a team to offer practical support for our customer base. Some of our customers come straight from hospital, where it’s a very controlled and regimented environment. Being somewhere like Eva House, it’s a place where they can feel more at home. And just get that control back. We try and adopt that person-centred approach. Where we listen to the needs of the customer. If people want to cook and don’t know how to cook, we run cooking workshops. If customers want to socialise a bit more, then we organise various trips, whether it’s to the cinema or the museum.”

As well as working on long-term goals, it’s rewarding to make minor changes that deliver outsized impact. One of Richard’s most memorable experiences involved supporting a customer in appealing a caution that prevented him from obtaining his British passport. Despite bureaucratic hurdles and months of waiting, Richard’s perseverance paid off, and the customer was granted the passport, enabling him to reunite with his family.

“My favourite part of the job is when you can make a real difference in someone’s life. Something they are going to remember when they’ve moved on from Evolve, years down the line. Maybe they are having a bad day and think, I remember when this person helped me, they had an impact on my life.”

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