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Summer 2020


The nurses keeping people out of hospital

What’s The New Normal?

The £1.7m Haircut

All You Need Is Love




34 28




From asylum seeker to social worker – how Doreen Hengari never gave up.

Diane Cooke lives with leukaemia. She tells why she’s not afraid of Covid-19.



We meet the NHS workers who left their day jobs to help out on the front line.




Sex workers are at higher risk of assault during the pandemic. We talk to the outreach workers who go onto the streets to support them. MC magazine team: Managing Editor: Steve Murphy. Editor: Jackie Rankin.

Community matron Beverley Nwosu shares memories of life in Nigeria and the recipe for her delicious Jolloff rice.



Contributors: Diane Cooke, Joanne Cunningham, Jo Henwood.

You can contact us at: communications@merseycare.nhs.uk


Editorial: Julie Crompton.



Photography: Peter Byrne PA, Rick Gem, Joel Goodman, Freepik.com, Pixabay, Unsplash.





Design: Jo Hadfield.



MEMBERSHIP AND GENERAL DATA PROTECTION REGULATION The GDPR is the General Data Protection Regulation, a European-wide law, which governs how organisations can collect, use and transfer personal data. It came into force on 25 May 2018 alongside the new Data Protection Act 2018. As a Foundation Trust, Mersey Care has a statutory requirement to develop and maintain a membership and it is necessary for us to process our members’ personal data to perform this task. Our members are drawn from the public, people who use our services or care for people who use our services and staff. We request and securely hold data on our members, which they provide when joining our membership. The data we hold on our members enables us to show that we are representative of the community we provide services for, to keep members updated through our quarterly MC magazine via email or post and to invite all members to the Annual General meeting. We also engage with all members advising when the election for governors will be taking place, giving members the opportunity to nominate themselves to become a governor and to vote in meetings for the council of governors. Should you no longer wish to be a member of Mersey Care please email membership@merseycare.nhs.uk with your details or call 0151 471 2303 asking that your details be removed.


n a world where people thank strangers for keeping their distance, and every granny knows how to Zoom call, we take a look at the new normal.

We explore the impact of the pandemic on some of society’s most vulnerable – and how technology is keeping them, and us, connected.

Do all angels have wings? Have a peek on page 24 to find out. This issue celebrates and applauds the ways community nurses and other colleagues have found to support people in difficult times.

It’s important to have some normality. We talk to a prison psychologist about lockdown behind bars. And to people who’ve gone outside their comfort zone to contribute to the national effort. And we ask, what does the future hold? Our experts talk about how it’s ok to be scared, but if we embrace the new normal it might bring benefits. Take care and enjoy this issue.

The MC Magazine Team.

The £1.7 million haircut – we talk to the barber helping to save men’s lives.

Embrace the new normal it might just change our lives for the better.

That’s the spirit! We look at how communities have come together. We are in an ever changing situation. The information in this issue was correct at the time of going to press, but please consult nhs.uk or gov.uk for latest advice and information.




Hollyoaks raised the issue of male suicide on our screens once again when soon to be wed Kyle Kelly took his own life in the run up to his wedding.


he soap looked at the contrasting stories of two men with mid life depression. Executive producer Bryan Kirkwood said Hollyoaks’ writing team wanted to highlight the differing ways in which depression can manifest itself, to show there was ‘no face to male suicide’. The aftermath of his loss is shown as Kyle’s friends and family come to terms with the news and the effects of the bereavement. Actor Adam Rickitt has revealed the plot forced him to revisit personal experiences.


“I was excited to be able to portray such a dramatic journey, and proud that the team had entrusted me to do it. There was also a sense of personal fear. Like all too many, I had to walk a similar path in my lifetime and the idea of revisiting that, even in the

world of fiction, was slightly daunting. In truth though it became an incredibly empowering experience”.

More than ever I think we need to be highlighting just this sort of issue. He praised the ‘sensitivity and heart’ that the writers put into the story. “At a time like now, more than ever, I think we need to be highlighting just this sort of issue.“

KEEP TALKING SAYS JOE Another Hollyoaks star Joe Tracini has spoken on social media about his bipolar

Don’t give up on people understanding says Hollyoaks star Joe Tracini.

disorder, and suicidal thoughts and urges people in the same situation to keep talking. He tweeted: “My constant thoughts about self harm and suicide were as exhausting as they were relentless. Some days recently have been exclusively me trying not to kill myself and I’m quite good at not killing myself.” ‘Don’t feel hopeless if the first person you confide in can’t support you in the way you need. Don’t give up if the 10th person doesn’t get it either. I can just promise that there are people out there who will understand, even if they haven’t thought the same thoughts as you.” @joetracini

FEATURE Got 10 minutes? That may be all it takes to prevent someone taking their life.


new online training programme that takes ten minutes to complete is being offered by the Zero Suicide Alliance.

More than a million people have already taken the ZSA gateway training on its website – zerosuicidealliance.com It’s thought that after the pandemic there could be more people in mental health crisis and we’ll all need the skills to be able to talk openly with confidence and understanding of suicide. Joe Rafferty, chairman of the ZSA, said: “We probably won’t know the true impact of the last few weeks and months on society until it’s all over, but we do know that many more people are admitting to struggling with their mental health since the lockdown began. “This shortened version of the training provides a great starting point to the skills required to help those who might be struggling.

All the evidence shows that if you talk to people in the right way, empathetically and with interest about suicide, you decrease the chance of them attempting it.” Save a Life Take the training: zerosuicidealliance.com/training

10 minutes to save a life

The Zero Suicide Alliance is a coalition of like minded partners determined to work together and share best practice to help rid the UK of suicide. Find out more by visiting: zerosuicidealliance.com

One stop resource shop I can just promise that there are people out there who will understand, even if they haven’t thought the same thoughts as you. Hollyoaks actor Joe Tracini

NEED HELP? If you are in crisis or have thoughts about harming yourself or someone else call 999 for an ambulance or go to your nearest Accident & Emergency department. If it’s not an emergency but you are feeling unwell and want advice and support, get in touch with your GP, who will talk it through with you and may refer you to someone else who can give you specialist help. Samaritans are available around the clock to help anyone. Freephone: 116 123 Website: samaritans.org Mersey Care website has a list of 24/7 online and phone psychological support. Merseycare.nhs.uk

Students, researchers and others looking to learn more about preventing suicide now have a one stop shop online resource thought to be the first of its kind in the country. ZSA Resources from the Zero Suicide Alliance offers easy access to evolving practice in the field of suicide prevention. It will give examples of innovative location and population based information, factors that influence suicide and examples of good practice from ZSA partners. The resources have been developed with the support of the Health Innovation Network and the Mental Health Foundation, and builds upon the work pioneered by both the American Suicide Prevention Resource Centre, and the Australian Suicide Prevention Hub. Christina Spencer from the ZSA said: “People are facing the same challenges, yet struggling to find examples of work done elsewhere. This resource brings people together in new ways, to share practice nationally and around the world; help people to find examples of exciting and effective practice more easily and provide an evidence base for action on positive change.” 5

THE £1.7M

HAIRCUT The barbers helping clients open up about mental health.


osing a close friend to suicide was a huge shock for young barber Tom Chapman.

“I’d spoken to him two days before, he seemed OK. He was the first person close to me who’d been taken so young. His funeral ceremony was packed, yet he must have felt there was no-one to talk to. I found it very difficult to accept.” Tom wanted to pay tribute to his friend. With plenty of musician friends he contemplated a music event. But a year on he realised the answer was in his barber’s chair. In 2015 he got together with fellow barbers to create a look book and launched the Lions Barbers Collective, a group of barbers wanting to provide an outlet for men to open up about their mental health.


“I realised that as barbers we spend hundreds of hours talking to men about all kinds, yet we don’t talk about how we’re feeling. We started telling men that we were there if they needed to talk – it was like a green light, they began to open up.”

We started telling men that we were there if they needed to talk.

Tom realised he’d struck a chord and the project has gone global. There’s now an app and a film on Amazon Prime (The £1.7 Million Haircut) documenting the rise of the movement. But there was no big plan, it happened organically. “The timing was massive. Hairdressing is the largest growth industry in the country as guys get into male grooming. Customer service and front of house contact is everything.” Tom realised early if he and his fellow barbers were to take on this vital role in suicide prevention they needed to be skilled to give the right advice at the right time. It had to be bespoke so he worked with academics to develop a dedicated training programme Barber Talk.


The most important thing is letting someone know you’ll listen to them with empathy and without judgement.

“We’re not psychologists; we needed to know how to talk and ask the direct questions that people often avoid, to have a non judgmental conversation. We already know about our clients’ lives. They already trust us. We needed to learn how to ask the questions and the knowledge to point guys in the right direction for help. Today the collective includes barbers in the UK, USA and Australia. Says Tom: “It’s proved there’s a need. The relationship between barber and client is really strong. There’s a huge level of intimacy that men don’t have with anyone else, they give us permission to touch their hair, their face. The Collective organised Lion’s Den held in barber shops across the country on the last Friday of every month, where a mental health professional hangs out in the shop to offer advice in a non clinical setting.

IT’S ALREADY SAVING LIVES. “One young lad – I’d been cutting his hair since he was four – told me he didn’t feel he could go on. A while ago I’d have said ‘don’t be silly’ but now I know the importance of asking the life saving question ‘Are you suicidal, and do you have a plan?’ The training gives you the knowledge to listen and signpost. He’s had therapy and is now happy and confident coming along on our regular Lions walks. Another lad posted his personal story on the Lions Barber Collective Facebook page – it got 3000 views in 24 hours. People have seen his courage and commented they never knew about the things he was going through but because we’ve helped him he knows that it’s ok to talk about it. “The most important thing is letting someone know you’ll listen to them with empathy and without judgement. That your barber’s chair is a safe place.”

For more information about The Lions Barber Collective go to: thelionsbarbercollective.com

STEP INSIDE THE MIND SHED The Zero Suicide Alliance (ZSA) has backed The Mind Shed, a new chat show by One Tribe TV that encourages men to talk openly about topics that are often taboo. The episode, which looks at how Covid is affecting mens’ mental health, features Tom Chapman, founder of The Lions Barber Collective, TV presenter Anthony Crank and psychiatrist, Dr Peter Aitken. View the episode here: youtu.be/GXxQ40-Shqk


MEN’S Eddy Flynn would take ideas from YouTube, go into his shed and make things. He spent a lot of time alone but never thought of himself as lonely until he came across the Men’s Sheds movement on a forum and became involved. “It made me realise my mental health had been affected by isolation,” he told MC magazine.




en’s Sheds, a national charity with 300 groups uses the familiar surroundings of a shed to encourage men to come together, create and connect with others. They help reduce loneliness and isolation, but most importantly, they’re fun.

It’s very friendly, we help each other. You listen to other people and stop feeling sorry for yourself.

SHEDS I’d given up, but now I look forward. I couldn’t be without them. We’re like a family.

After eight months of volunteering Eddy became coordinator for a new shed project in Bootle’s New Strand shopping centre. “They put me on a social enterprise course which was terrifying! I’d never done anything academic, but dealing with people again boosted my confidence.”

he lacked ‘something to get up for’. Now as a Tool Shed volunteer he’s thriving. “It’s very friendly, we help each other. You listen to other people and stop feeling sorry for yourself.” During lockdown the group has met via Zoom and Skype. There’s always a phone call for those who don’t have smart devices. Work benches are currently being rearranged for social distancing so the Tool Shed can once again welcome its volunteers. Eddy talks of his shed with a wry grin but also affection. “It’s an informal welcoming place. Even the grumpiest among us take pride in helping someone else.”


Now Eddy motivates others to step over the threshold of Bootle Tool Shed. Volunteers create wooden furniture and crafts to sell.

Ted (above with Toby the Tool Shed’s dog), is the shed’s self appointed cook. For some the lunches he prepares may be their only meal. He joined on the advice of his GP following the death of his wife. “At first I thought ‘no way’ but I was in a rut. I came in, put the urn on and made everyone a drink. I’ve never looked back. I’d given up, but now I look forward. I couldn’t be without them. We’re like a family.”

There’s the usual workshop banter. At lunchtime machines are switched off and the men sit down together for a hearty lunch.

Take a peek inside Bootle Toolshed: Visit Mersey Care social media and search Men’s Sheds Mersey Care

As a ship’s engineer, Roger (above, second right) had travelled the world. After retiring and moving to his dream home by the sea,

FOR INFORMATION on Bootle Tool Shed: Email: info@bootletoolshed.org.uk Phone: 07887 521 207


Love fills your heart and it breaks your heart.



ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE It’s one of the most perplexing, exhilarating and even painful of human experiences. It can harm and it can heal and in the context of the pandemic, it’s grown in importance for many.


lthough domestic abuse figures have soared during lockdown, the positive side to this catastrophic story tells of people appreciating family and friends more. Heart warming stories of communities coming together to help and support each other have flooded social media. To put it simply, many are feeling the love.

the complexities of mental health. But also, it’s key to remember there is help available for people living with mental health issues and there is hope.

Strictly Takes Two presenter and Radio 2 host Zoe Ball revealed in an interview with Red Magazine that believing in love has kept her going during testing times – especially after the sudden death of her partner Billy Yates in 2017.

“You find love everywhere. It’s in your friendships and your parents and your children and in music. Love fills your heart and it breaks your heart; it’s so unpredictable, you don’t know where it’s going to come from.

“I believe I was in shock for two years afterwards,” she said. “It’s like you can’t see beyond putting your feet on the floor and getting out of bed each day. Since losing Billy, I’ve met lots of people who’ve helped me have a better understanding of

“To feel love is the most incredible feeling in the world. To lose it will nearly end you and take you to your knees, but there’s always more. You know, I look at my kids or my friends and think ‘I couldn’t love you any more.’ And then I do. Love just keeps on coming.”

To feel love is the most incredible feeling in the world.

Research has indicated that love within a satisfying relationship can lead to improved survival rates after coronary bypass surgery. The effects of satisfaction were reported to be just as important to survival as traditional risk factors, such as obesity and tobacco use.


This finding may have been due to happy relationships encouraging healthy behaviour, such as quitting smoking and keeping fit. The pandemic has also rescued romantic love, according to Lawrence R. Samuel writing in Psychology Today. “Much like during and immediately after two previous historically traumatic events – World War II and 9/11– there is now a window of opportunity for romantic love to flourish. In times of crisis, humans, like most other species, tend to gravitate toward each other as a natural instinct of survival.”


Consultant clinical psychologist Sarah Butchard

It’s a basic human need to feel connected to people to help us survive. According to Samuel we are streamlining our priorities and rethinking how to infuse our lives with more meaning and purpose. In place of the endless and ultimately unfulfilling pursuit of things, we’re placing more value on relationships with others. Mersey Care consultant clinical psychologist Sarah Butchard says people are feeling the need to connect in any way possible, other than the physical: “It’s a basic human need to feel connected to people to help us survive.”

Thousands have embraced technology like Zoom to stay in touch with family and friends, while others have felt compelled to spread the love as a volunteer. “Three quarters of a million people volunteered to help the NHS, that was such an overwhelming response an outpouring of connectedness. It would be wonderful to think that society will stay this way after Covid,” says Sarah. “As Zoe says when you lose someone you’re forced to re evaluate and pull together and that is what is happening here.” Our basic instinct is to look after the people we care about. According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – a motivational theory in psychology comprising a five tier model of human needs, including physiological, safety, love and belonging, esteem, and self actualization – our most basic need is to be secure and safe.

“At the moment we can see threats to the people we care about and we want to protect them and that’s generating strong feelings, whether that’s love or protection,” she says. As a clinical psychologist Sarah has experience of service users who have been denied love. “Adverse clinical events, or anything that happens in childhood, have a massive impact on adult mental health. We see a lot of people in clinical services who have had difficulties in childhood and we use compassion focused therapy, which is specifically designed to help people connect with compassion and kindness to themselves. “If you’ve never had experience of that it’s very hard to accept it from others. That doesn’t mean that if you’ve had a bad childhood that you’re written off for life. With therapy we can help change the way people see themselves and the world.”

REFERENCES • medicalnewstoday.com/articles/233278#1 • simplypsychology.org/maslow.htmlRooms


@ZoeTheBall @zoetheball


STREET LIFE It’s estimated there are up to 80,000 sex workers in the UK – the majority are women*. We talk to a former street sex worker and to the outreach team who helped her find a route out. And we look how those supporting sex workers are virtually adapting their services.


treet sex workers are at a greater risk of violent assaults and rape during the coronavirus pandemic, with many too scared to report violent assaults because they fear being arrested. A BBC report says women are finding it harder to earn money during lockdown so have been taking more risks.

Sexual health outreach worker Lynsey Riley.

Outreach workers within Mersey Care’s sexual health service Armistead support women working in the sex trade. Wearing NHS identity badges and uniform with logo, they go into the areas where women typically work.


*Source: House of Commons Home Affairs Committee: third report of session 2016-17 www.publications.parliament.uk.



Outreach workers like Jo Lightwood support sex workers on the streets where they work.


Practical help includes handing out condoms and encouraging women who inject drugs to use a needle exchange at a nearby drop in. But it’s also a kind word, bringing warmth to a harsh and often dangerous environment. Most importantly the team can support sex workers to get help from other agencies and find a way to leave sex work if that’s what they want. The team is part of a network of organisations that work together offering everything from emotional support and drug rehabilitation services, to housing and benefits. Outreach work takes dedication and commitment. Armistead outreach worker Jo Lightwood (pictured above) and her colleagues work unsocial hours and work tirelessly with partner organisations. Their


Just being there talking, listening, tells them we’re not here to judge, we’re here to help you.

reward is helping women rebuild their lives with a more positive future.

after that. We’ll wait for them till they’re ready.”

Yet sex workers are notoriously wary and often refuse help. Building relationships with the outreach team can take months, or even years.

Sometimes the best support is the most basic. “We can often sense when someone’s not right,” says Jo. “Just being there talking, listening, tells them we’re not here to judge, we’re here to help you.

Some women see rape, abuse and violence as ‘part of the deal’. The team encourages them to report abuse and Liverpool has a dedicated sex worker police liaison officer. Outreach workers are adept at judging the best approach. “You learn to read someone’s body language. They’re at work, they need to earn money, and they don’t have time to talk. You desperately want to help, but if they’re not up for listening you have to walk away and say ‘catch you next time’. The important thing is they know we’ll be here again the next night... and the night

Read Maxine’s story on page 16.

It’s also a kind word that brings warmth to a harsh and often dangerous environment.

VIRTUALLY THERE In Liverpool teams from different services are finding meeting and working virtually is not just keeping vulnerable women safe – it’s seeing new ideas flourishing to improve their lives.


exual health outreach worker Lynsey Riley (pictured on page 13), is part of the team based at Armistead in Hanover Street Lockdown forced staff to begin working remotely. She became immediately concerned for the safety of women who she knew would still be forced to work regardless of a lockdown. “I thought how are we going to keep these vulnerable women safe without being on the streets with them?” The service is part of the local Covid-19 health network which has carried on meeting virtually. Different agencies dial in daily to identify vulnerable homeless people who need urgent support. The group works out what‘s needed for each person and how it can be provided.

It’s paying dividends for the women Lynsey works with. She tells of Arianne, a 46 year old homeless sex worker with a substance addiction. Network partners arranged for a local charity The Pearls Project to drop off food parcels and wellbeing pack. Addictions support organisation We Are With You referred Arianne for housing support. Within 24 hours she moved off the streets and into a city centre hotel. She is still engaging with services and hopes to be placed in longer term accommodation. Lynsey is delighted. “Although it’s been really hard for us not to be able to be out there in person, it’s been incredible to see how the different services have come together, literally saving lives.”

ARMISTEAD STREET TEAM The team operates a community based outreach and drop in service throughout the city of Liverpool, including: • • • • • • • • •

Free condoms and lubricant Emergency needle exchange Support about contraception and pregnancy Access to sexual health services Pathway to drug and alcohol services Support for access to health services Referral to counselling regarding domestic violence Referrals to housing and other agencies Supporting hostels in the area.




Jenny, a pregnant sex worker was living in a tent in the city.


utreach workers had tried to support her, but like many homeless people, she’d been reluctant to ‘come inside’ – a term for living in bricks and mortar accommodation. Outreach workers from Whitechapel saw Jenny at her antenatal appointment to gain her trust then supported her to engage with the team at the City Council housing department. Jenny moved from her tent into a bed and breakfast and since then into hostel accommodation. Katy Wafer, care coordinator for Mersey Care’s integrated care team said that as organisations meet and work virtually new ideas have flourished. “Together we’re finding new pathways for services that will make a difference to the lives of women like Jenny. And the best thing is they’re developing organically. For instance enhanced midwives at Liverpool Women’s Hospital are looking to work more closely with the Armistead team to support pregnant sex workers with really complex needs, to help them access essential services.”

To access services or for information and support call: 0151 247 6560, Monday to Friday 9.30am to 4.30pm.



SEX WORKER – NOW I OFFER HOPE Maxine is 47 and a former sex worker from Liverpool. She has an infectious smile and beams with pride when she talks about how she supported other women as part of her rehabilitation programme.


he often comes back to the city to visit her mum. And she’ll always go to the streets she worked for 25 years. But these days it’s to share her story and urge women selling sex to find a new life.

“I’d get clean but if you don’t have a support network or change your environment the rot sets in deeper and deeper. I had so much help from so many services but my life was a catalogue of chaos.”

As a young carer for her disabled parents Maxine used sport as an escape and showed great promise as a gymnast. But at the age of 15 tragedy struck when she fractured her back, leaving her unable to walk for a year.

Getting money to feed her habit wasn’t easy. She saw how quickly it could be made on the streets. “I’d stopped feeling. I knew right from wrong but I’d lost touch with reality. You’re in survival mode yet you wish you were dead.”

I learned to hide stuff, but I didn’t deal with my feelings of worthlessness.

During that time her mum left the family home. Maxine blamed herself for not being able to fulfil her caring role. She bottled up her feelings and her opiate based painkillers helped mask the emotional as well as the physical pain. Anxiety and depression followed. She recalls: “I learned to hide stuff, but I didn’t deal with my feelings of worthlessness.” At 18 and part of the 80s rave culture, she found herself isolated from childhood friends. “I wanted to be accepted so I drank and smoked weed, then went on to hard drugs. I was still functioning. I didn’t realise how quickly they get a hold of you.”


I knew right from wrong but I’d lost touch with reality.

Some of Maxine’s friends did die, often in horrific circumstances. Now she knows the experience has left her with post traumatic stress. Back then she just became more streetwise and hardened to her environment. At one point she was told by the family not to attend her father’s funeral. “I was really close to my dad; he’d followed me across the country trying to help me so it hurt to stay away. It was heart breaking.”

Determined to complete her training to become an embalmer she took part in endless rehabilitation programmes, giving birth to her first child during that time. But in her mid 20s the drugs took a hold and Maxine went to prison for theft, fraud and dealing drugs. In the years that followed she lost custody of all four of her children.

When she first met Armistead outreach worker Jo Lightwood Maxine wasn’t up for hugs or small talk, she just needed condoms for the night ahead. “You become suspicious of everyone. I couldn’t bear anyone touching me. I couldn’t work out if it was real affection or a way of finding out what I could offer.”


I want to be a beacon of hope for the girls, to show them they can get out of that life and find a better one if that’s what they choose.

Spending time with the outreach workers changed her views. “I started to offload – I felt I could tell them things, even if I’d messed up. They became my go to people. I’d built up trust, I felt safe with them.” Maxine’s chaotic lifestyle and addiction led to pneumonia and sepsis. Unwell and facing discharge from hospital to a ‘horrendous’ hostel, she made the decision to end her life. “I couldn’t see a way out of this vicious cycle. I was in despair, on the streets doing drugs and selling myself. I’d always believed in God but I thought I was too far gone. I was at death’s door, I had no fight left. I cried out for Him to change my life or end it.” Intuition kicked in for Jo Lightwood. “You can often pick up on people’s pain, but something was different. I knew we had to act quickly.” Jo contacted pastor Jennie from All Saints Church and convinced Maxine to go to the pastoral hub, where she got involved with the church community.


But the streets, the dealers and the punters were still there as she faced her biggest challenge – beating her habit. The outreach team and the church worked together, making sure she kept appointments. Jennie found accommodation for Maxine and supported her through her withdrawal from drugs. When a negative sample came back Maxine felt hope for the first time in years. In less than a year she was off drugs altogether. She smiles when she says: “I used my last ounce of strength to choose life over death.” There were more challenges. Maxine had to relearn life skills – and how to trust people. She was reunited with her mum and is back in touch with her eldest children. (The younger two have since been adopted and Maxine made the heart breaking but selfless decision not to maintain contact for their benefit).


NEED HELP? • Help yourself – our self help guide on depression and low mood can be read online, downloaded or watched as a video.

Support for you

Now living at a Christian independent living centre in Harrogate, she’s training as a support worker for people with learning disabilities.

Armistead’s outreach service and other services walked alongside me on this journey. I could never have done it on my own. She’s full of gratitude for the help she’s had. “Armistead’s outreach service and other services walked alongside me on this journey. I could never have done it on my own. “I’m managing my post traumatic stress with my faith and without medication. I have purpose to get up every morning and live my life, happy and free of my past. I now have hope for the future. “ Helping other sex workers gives her joy. “I go with my head held high. I want to be a beacon of hope for the girls, to show them they can get out of that life and find a better one if that’s what they choose.”


HUB OF HOPE We’ve all felt the pain of isolation during the Covid-19 pandemic. For someone with a personality disorder it can be tenfold. When lockdown came Helen Underwood knew there could be issues.


elen is day service lead for the personality disorder hub run by Mersey Care in the coastal town of Waterloo. A safe, reassuring environment for people who often don’t have a strong social network. She explains: Our service users often find it challenging to forge relationships. They often encounter difficulties managing their emotions, which leaves them susceptible to people taking advantage.

The hub provides a safe haven, seven days a week, including a crisis service. “A lot of people rely on the hub for support, so when we closed the doors we knew we’d have to work quickly to stay in touch.” Service users played a major role in designing the hub and are heavily involved in service developments. The team called for tech savvy volunteers to help set up a virtual hub. And they did. The hub Facebook group, previously used solely for service messages

The hub provides a safe haven, seven days a week, including a crisis service. 18

The team called for tech savvy volunteers to help set up a virtual Hub. was developed into a live group allowing staff to check on people’s emotional wellbeing. Skype and Zoom quickly followed. What happened next couldn’t have been predicted. Only around 20 of the 150 service users on the books usually kept in touch outside of appointments. Within a week check in meetings were attracting 60 or more people daily. “It was incredible to watch,” said Helen. People who had never actively engaged were chatting openly to complete strangers and looking relaxed.

People who had never actively engaged were chatting openly to complete strangers and looking relaxed. Helen Underwood day service lead

“Some people live the other side of the city, so distance may have stopped them coming to groups, but now they could get involved from the comfort of their own home. It was incredible to see more coming on each week with ideas to recreate our sessions and groups.” There are film nights, a healthy eating group and a quiz run by a service user who had never previously become involved in group sessions. Since social distancing has relaxed service users are reaching out, meeting in small groups in open spaces where they live. Hub staff have worked tirelessly to continue to develop the service. The much valued crisis and day service is offered online, including weekends. Psychology assistants have helped to develop an online emotional coping skills group. Distraction activity packs are posted out to people who don’t use technology. Helen says there’s a massive sense of relief. “People thought we were going to close.

Distance doesn’t matter any more... Tashi Thornley, service user and governor

It’s been challenging, none of the team is particularly tech minded, so we’ve had our ups and downs, but feedback has been amazing. It’s really helped our therapeutic relationships. I think the service users can see how hard we’re trying to give them the service they had before.”

The best thing is being able to see people. Service user Michelle agrees. “They’ve taught me to cope with life; we all look out for each other so it was difficult to think I’d lose contact with them. It’s been really good. There’s a check in every day. I live alone so it’s something to get up for.

The best thing is being able to see people. You don’t have to talk, whoever wants to talk can. They give us tips on how to cope with overwhelming emotions. They could see one day that my dishes were piling up and they made me get dressed and clean up. The staff always maintain a good sense of humour. You forget that they’re in the same position. Everyone has done so much.”

NEED SUPPORT? • Help yourself – our self help guide on stress can be read online, downloaded or watched as a video.


Support for you

“It’s changed things a lot. Distance doesn’t matter any more; it’s made things more open. We have our business meetings on Skype. I was wary, it had the potential to go wrong. We have a strict behavioural policy so as not to trigger anyone’s anxiety. There were people on who didn’t know each other, but everyone is respectful. I really hope when the Hub reopens we carry on with virtual…” Tashi Thornley service user and governor


A TASTE OF NIGERIA Liverpool community matron and Queen’s Nurse Beverley Nwosu says there’s something fundamentally satisfying about good food. ‘We all have different reasons for eating well. For me it’s the joy of cooking for friends. As a mum and grand mum my greatest joy is seeing people enjoying the variety of food that I prepare. Food was a big part of our lives when we were growing up. My dad was a barrister and my mum a nurse. Although I was born in England, we returned to Nigeria after I and my brothers and sisters finished our schooling. Traditionally in Nigeria girls are expected to go to the market with their mothers to buy food so I learnt naturally the ingredients needed for different dishes.

My mum was good at feeding people who came to our house. Whether invited or not, she’d quickly prepare something to serve to our visitors. My love of good food grew even more when I had my own children. They’ve all left home now and are doing well, so I assume I must have fed them well! Now there’s just me and my husband, but I sometimes forget the children have left home and end up buying and cooking the same amounts I did when they were all at home. They often pop round to take home what’s left. Better still, I have been blessed with three grandchildren, who have an appetite for eating grandmama’s food, so nothing is wasted!”




Serves 4

“This is one of the most popular dishes in Nigeria. It can be prepared at short notice and is a great dish to cook, either on its own or with meat or fish. You can add spices to suit your taste.”

INGREDIENTS 8 chicken thighs 2 cups long grain or other rice 2 onions 2 tbsp vegetable oil (or ground nut or olive oil) Level teaspoon each of paprika, ginger, garlic granules, mixed herbs, chilli pepper, all spice, Jollof seasoning.

TIP: If you prefer to use fresh options use 4 cloves of garlic, small piece of grated ginger, fresh red chilli pepper and one scotch bonnet chilli pepper (deseed chilli to make the dish less hot) 2 chicken or vegetable stock cubes 400ml tin of coconut milk 400ml tin chopped tomatoes 2 tbsps tomato puree Pinch of salt Handful frozen or tinned peas 125g cooked fresh prawns 4 boiled eggs (optional)

METHOD • Chop onions and grate garlic and ginger if using fresh options • Soak rice in cold water for 2 to 5 minutes then drain. (This helps to reduce the carbohydrate content) • Coat the chicken thighs with some of the spices and either boil with small amount of water or roast or pan seal and roast for 20 minutes • Heat oil in a pot and add chopped onion, garlic and other spices until softened • Add in puree, then tinned tomatoes, stir, then pour in the coconut milk • Bring to the boil, stirring so it doesn’t boil over • Add rice and top up with a little boiling water if required • Cover, reduce heat and leave to cook for 30 to 40 minutes • While the sauce is cooking check roast chicken thighs • Cook peas in a pan, or microwave for two minutes • Serve the rice garnished with prawns, peas and eggs if desired. Enjoy!




manda dreams of owning her own business. The 43 year old mum of two was delighted to get a college place. But she’s had to miss classes because of chronic pain from a health condition. Some days the pain in her feet is so severe that she can’t wear shoes and needs a walking frame. “I hate being like this” she told MC magazine. My GP says my physical condition is stress related. I lost my dad and a friend in close succession, and I was in an abusive relationship for years. I want to study but the pain is so bad.” Marcia is a high intensity talking therapist with Talk Liverpool. She sees many clients


How do you live well with a long term health condition? We look at the support on offer and the difference it’s making.

for whom life events have caused physical health issues which in turn have a profound effect on mental wellbeing. Or the other way round. She uses her in depth understanding of pain management to adapt the therapy and tailor sessions. “I always ask clients to identify a goal we can work towards - in Amanda’s case the goal is to stay in college. We’ve worked on changing her belief about herself, reinforcing what she’s good at and signposting her to the help she needs to get there. We may spend a session looking at pacing yourself to avoid chronic fatigue. Or to educate the person around the pain that comes with their condition. And we look at

how lifestyle affects mood, the importance of a good night’s sleep and eating well. “Just feeling you’ve been heard and understood can make a difference, that’s why it’s so important to make the therapy meet the needs of the individual. It can be challenging for a therapist but it’s very rewarding.” Amanda used to get anxious if she couldn’t attend sessions.”I’m ok now, Marcia phones me and keeps me grounded.“ Marcia applauds Amanda’s tenacity. “She’s had to fight for everything she’s had – what keeps her going is that she knows where she wants to be. We’ll help her to get there.” Marcia Alldis is a cognitive behavioural therapist, British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies accredited.



Former mine engineer Ray has lived with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) for 20 years.

Telehealth nurse advisor Lyn Gould can monitor her patients remotely.


fter developing pneumonia and a clot on his lung last year Ray was fearful and low thinking he’d no longer be able to do the little things he loved like a trip to the beach, or walking his dog. When he was offered support from Mersey Care’s Telehealth service he was delighted. Health technology is a small, easy to use piece of equipment that works through a care portal or an app on your android phone, tablet or PC. It enables you or your carer to take your vital signs, such as blood pressure, pulse, body weight, oxygen levels at home. You can also answer simple questions about your health. This information is received by healthcare professionals giving you peace of mind that your condition is being monitored regularly. Your measurements and answers help health professionals give you the right support when you need it.

Ray measures his oxygen levels, heart rate and blood pressure and answers a few questions about his condition. The results are checked and shared with health professionals involved in his care. If the team sees abnormal results they’ll provide advice and support. They can also refer to other services. “I didn’t realise how much it would help me” says Ray. The machine is really easy to use and it takes the decisions out of my hands. If it was up to me I’d always be wondering ‘should I take the medicines or not’? There was one time when my readings showed that I needed to go into hospital. I might not have known that and stayed at home.”

Patients are so grateful for that extra layer of care.

Lyn is a big fan of Telehealth for health care staff to monitor their patients remotely, saving time, and for patients to avoid the need for home visits or hospital admissions. “It’s an amazing service and being a Telehealth nurse is the best job ever. You’re always problem solving to help people who are quite poorly have a better quality of life – and even saving lives.” If you are registered with a Liverpool GP you can be referred for assessment for Health Technology by your GP, community matron or specialist nurse. You can self refer but further checks would need to be made. For information call: 0151 285 4651.

Telehealth patient Ray and his wife Sandra.

Lyn Gould (above left) is one of 10 Telehealth nurse advisors supporting more than 5,000 people including patients identified as vulnerable during the pandemic. Her oldest patient is 101, the youngest just 30. “Patients are so grateful for that extra layer of care. They know we’re always in the background monitoring, so they’re not worried about missing the signs or symptoms of becoming unwell, or becoming anxious and calling an ambulance.”

Need to talk? Talk to us Talk Liverpool continue to accept referrals from anyone aged 16 or over and registered with a Liverpool GP. Assessment and treatment will be via telephone, online therapy via the SilverCloud programme and virtual face to face therapy via Attend Anywhere Go to Talk Liverpool website talkliverpool.nhs.uk or call 0151 228 2300. 23



We’ve clapped our nurses, called them heroes and watched as they’ve battled in hospitals, often exhausted, to care for people during the pandemic. But there’s another team of care workers in the background...


C magazine shines a spotlight on the ‘hidden’ angels, nurses working day and night in homes across towns and cities, to keep people safe and free up wards, beds and staff within hospitals.

someone goes through a mental health crisis, support a person with a learning disability to live independently. And if someone is nearing the end of their life and wants to die at home, they support the person to do so with dignity.

It’s not just during a pandemic. Every minute of every day a community nurse will be part of a team caring for someone in their home, care home or perhaps in supported living accommodation.


They’ll be helping people manage long term conditions that, left untreated, could end up in a hospital admission. They’ll be there when

District nurse team leader Erica Daley made national headlines when she was captured on camera in front of street artist Paul Curtis’s Liver Wings at Liverpool’s Baltic Triangle. Community matron Susan Tay and nurse care practitioner Michael Turner were also the subject of Press Association photographer Peter Byrne’s creative eye.

At a time of a national crisis, I am proud to be a nurse. Nurse care practitioner Michael Turner

It is an absolute privilege to be working within community services as a matron during these difficult and challenging times. Working together in innovative ways to provide high quality care for our patients and their families is paramount and remains at the forefront of community nursing. 24

Community matron Susan Tay

Susan Tay


Erica Daley

I am incredibly proud of the dedication and commitment shown by all of my colleagues during the most challenging of times. We take enormous pride in the care that we deliver to the most vulnerable people in our communities. This was true before the pandemic and has now taken on an even greater significance. District nurse team leader Erica Daley


Sam Sherrington


SAM’S ON A MISSION Sam Sherrington joins England Chief Nursing Officer’s team as NHS head of community nursing. She talks exclusively to MC magazine about why some of the most diverse, multi skilled, autonomous nursing opportunities begin outside of hospitals.


am Sherrington is on a mission – to champion and celebrate the work of our community nurses.

She wants a fanfare for this army of men and women who care for people in their homes, keeping them well and managing conditions to keep them out of hospital, and who are there at the end of their life for those who choose to die at home. Her vision is for the world to recognise community nursing as a vital cog in the health and social care system. Sam, a mother of two from Bolton, was an early pioneer for this type of nurse. Unlike most of her peers she didn’t start her career on a hospital ward in a hospital; instead she went headlong to follow her passion into nursing in the community. “At that time, what I did was very unusual. My boss took a gamble by giving a newly qualified nurse a community role.” Now Sam is repaying the favour by giving a voice to the lesser sung heroes of the profession. In her new role as the country’s head of community nursing within the Chief Nursing Officer’s national nursing team, she aims to ensure the voice of the community nurse is heard. For evidence of their impact, she suggests looking at how community health and care teams, many led by nurses, have responded to the Covid-19 pandemic. Sam had scarcely begun her new role in April this year when she had to work fast with community nurses to lead the way for community health and care. She’s proud as punch of the way teams in communities across the country have risen to the challenge. “Community nurses stepped forward without hesitation. They treated large numbers of


She’s proud as punch of the way teams in communities across the country rose to the challenge. people in their homes, care homes and in supported living settings so there was capacity in hospitals for Covid patients and people who were acutely unwell. People who could be treated at home got the highly skilled care they needed which prevented them from being admitted to hospital.” But Covid isn’t the only challenge. A survey from the Queen’s Nursing Institute International Community Nursing Observatory in 2019 revealed that 46 per cent of district nurses plan to leave or retire in the next six years – and the nursing profession as a whole needs 50,000 new recruits. Sam says “We need a succession plan. Those planning to leave are incredibly skilled professionals in the community where the majority of care is delivered. An important part of my brief is to develop a system wide plan to encompass new ways of working, continual professional development and innovation to encourage people to stay. In addition, I am hopeful that the recent changes to maintenance allowances for students should help us recruit more nurses. “The recent TV coverage of Mersey Care nurses was brilliant. It showed them leading the way with their exemplary knowledge, skills and professionalism. It was fantastic to watch and will hopefully encourage more people to want to train to become a community nurse,” she says.

Above all, Sam’s vision is for people to see modern community nurses for the skilled vital care they deliver – and for them to have decision making powers that match their autonomy of professional practice. “Previously district nurses had a very different role. It’s part of our heritage and we’re very proud of that, but the role has massively evolved. We have community nurses who prescribe medication, who are highly trained to deliver quality interventions to prevent people needing hospital care. We have nurses who are experts in end of life care so people can choose to die at home knowing they and their families will be supported by people with the right skills, knowledge and compassion. We have 41,000 nurses working in social care.

We have community nurses who prescribe medication, who are highly trained to deliver quality interventions to prevent people needing hospital care. Our nurses are experts in developing plans to manage the health of large populations. The breadth and depth of knowledge, skills and expertise are incredible and we need to start celebrating that.” With Sam Sherrington at the helm, community nursing will get the recognition it deserves. • Sam is also Head of the Year of the Nurse and Midwife 2020

The recent TV coverage of Mersey Care nurses was brilliant. It showed them leading the way with their exemplary knowledge, skills and professionalism. It was fantastic to watch and will hopefully encourage more people to want to train to become a community nurse.


TRADING PLACES At the height of the pandemic staff from across Mersey Care rose to the challenge of swapping their ‘day job’ for a vital role on the front line. Two of them share their experiences.


Quality assurance lead Kate Aslamian-Porter was among staff who signed up to be redeployed during the pandemic.

s she donned her personal protective equipment all Kate Aslanian-Porter could think of was what she’d learnt in her training to be a swabber. Outside the room a queue of NHS staff impatient to discover if they had contracted the virus without symptoms.

Kate recalls a mixture of excitement and trepidation. “I didn’t think twice when they asked for volunteers. It was only when we put on the PPE it struck home how important it was. I’m so glad I was paired with Ronan, he was a calming influence.”

Until lockdown Kate, Mersey Care’s quality assurance lead had been visiting wards to help teams of staff ensure their services met quality standards. Unable to fulfil that role at home she leapt at the chance to volunteer for redeployment. “I had no idea where I might be sent. I just wanted to help out and do something valuable.”

The teams were working against the clock to make sure swabs were at the lab by the end of each day.

Community physiotherapist Ronan Donohue goes into people’s homes, helping them to get back to normal life after a fall or surgery. Unable to see his patients at home during lockdown he had the same thought as Kate. Both joined Mersey Care’s army of volunteers for redeployment, and the pair found themselves buddied up as part of a team charged with swabbing 500 Trust staff in two days.*

I wanted to do something that would make a difference... you get a real buzz from being part of something bigger. Kate recalls: “We’d have to gown up, swab then gown off, wash our hands, complete the paperwork, then start again. And in between we’d be reassuring people who were unsure what swabbing involved. There was no time to think, we just did it.”

*Mersey Care was part of a national research programme looking at people who tested positive for Covid-19 but were asymptomatic.

Ronan agrees. “There were so many unknowns, so tensions were running high and people were scared. You do have a little worry in the back of your mind but we worked well as a team. I did the swabbing and Kate the admin, then we swapped so we’d get to appreciate the full role. There were queues and so many kits to get through, but you just roll up your sleeves and get on with it.” Kate reflects on the challenge. ”I wanted to do something that would make a difference. I learnt so much and I appreciate what clinical staff do every day. But at the end you get a real buzz from being part of something much bigger.”

Community physiotherapist Ronan Donohue joined the swabbing team




PUSHING ME ON Jackie Rankin talks to student mental health social worker Doreen Hengari about fleeing her home country and her incredible resilience in the face of adversity.


n 2016 Doreen and her little girl packed their bags and left their beloved home because of violence.

“My daughter was ten when we left. We had to do it, but I had no idea where life was going to take us. We lived with a friend and then in a hostel for months, while waiting to hear from the Home Office. A letter came to say someone would be coming to take us to our dispersal accommodation. We packed, left and drove for hours without knowing where we were going.”

The family’s new home was Wrexham, North Wales. Doreen recalls a warm welcome, but a sense of displacement. “I joined a church and the International Christian Fellowship of Wrexham who welcomed me with open hearts. I realised how much a friendly face can mean. But there was a sense that your life is being planned out by someone else.“ With a vision to become a social worker she volunteered and felt lucky to find an access course. Yet as an asylum seeker she wasn’t entitled to university funding. “When plans were being discussed in class I’d stay silent. I was ashamed of my situation.” She was delighted to discover the Sanctuary grant from University of Chester, only to be told it wasn’t available for social work students. ”I was heartbroken, but a week later they decided to open the grant to those who want to study social work. I immediately applied and was awarded the grant. It was the best news ever!”


It meant very early starts and a three hour round trip to the campus in Warrington. But her daughter was settled in school and Doreen was happy. Then came a bombshell. She was recovering from major surgery when she heard her father had passed away in Namibia. In the same week the Home Office refused her asylum application. She had to withdraw from her course. She was despondent, but Doreen’s resilience shone through once more. ”At first I thought ‘I should just go back home’, but there was something pushing me to carry on and fight.” Her appeal was a torturous process, but she had unstinting support of fellow students, who launched a campaign for her to stay, and friends who went with her to court. After two weeks of uncertainty the news came through that Doreen had won her case. She returned to her studies, working hard to catch up. She’s since won two awards from the University.

But the challenges continued. Refugee status meant she had to find new accommodation. ”We moved into a hotel with just a suitcase. Everything else went into storage until a house became available. It was tough, but my goal – to be a social worker – kept me going.” She found her vocation, working with homeless people, first at Liverpool’s Whitechapel Centre then on placement with Mersey Care’s Homelessness Outreach Team. During the Covid pandemic Doreen was determined to carry on working. In the citation for her citizenship award her tutor said it was an ‘extremely brave decision which had tangible effects in terms of ongoing service provision’. Now living in Liverpool, Doreen’s planning for the next part of her extraordinary journey. Her experience has left her able to truly empathise with those she supports. “There are so many reasons why people end up where they are today. They’ve faced and still are facing so many challenges. I’m so excited and looking forward to being able to make a difference.“



Will new thinking be required to adapt to the new normal? In this 19 page special we talk to experts about making the most of life after lockdown and what could come next. 29


Love it or loathe it, the expression ‘new normal’, just like ‘social distance’ and ‘self isolate’ is now part of our lexicon. By Jo Henwood


fter almost three months in lockdown, restrictions in the UK are slowly beginning to lift. Shops have reopened, people are tentatively returning to the workplace and we are all looking forward to an eventual rebirth of our social lives. The ‘new normal’ will mean wearing masks on public transport, keeping our distance from people in shops and maybe walking in a one-way system around our offices or working from home more. Consultant clinical psychologist Claire Iveson (pictured right), says that the way we behave in this next phase will depend on our personalities, our own expectations and how we reacted during lockdown. She

says that our shared human response to the pandemic, born out of a desire to help one another, keep each other safe, be responsible and stop the spread of coronavirus will continue as we move on to the next stage. “We as humans perceived the virus as a strong threat,” says Claire. “It is unseen, it is everywhere and nowhere. As this filters through our mind, it triggers our survival brain. We become alert and on edge.” When lockdown began, Claire thinks that we all suffered a form of collective social grief. She said: “The virus took away a lot of things that make humans work and help buffer our working lives. “Taking holidays, being able to meet friends for a drink, going out for our tea, these help us create a life balance and they were all taken away. “Some people were in denial, some felt anger and many of us felt a sense of loss for our life as it was.”


The virus took away a lot of things that make humans work. Claire acknowledges that lockdown will have affected people in very different ways. “Some people have sadly lost loved ones,” she said. “Others who are dealing with more difficulties than others – poverty, poorer mental health, living in abusive relationships or Claire Iveson without homes. Such adversity and social inequalities will impact services, like mental health and education, in long and far reaching ways.” But she also recognises that lockdown for many will have been a very positive experience. Claire says: “Some people have rediscovered old hobbies, appreciated nature more during their daily walk, spent more happy time with their family, even slept better.”

Lockdown for many will be a very positive experience.

THE NEW NORMAL We are in this together and have the equipment to see us through.

In the new normal Claire says we may find we are more alert and cautious in situations that didn’t bother us before. The mind’s urge to problem solve will help us work out how to act and what to do next. “If you enjoyed some of the slower pace of life and rediscovered the value of things, maybe you can work out ways of incorporating that into your new normal. “If you were in lockdown with other people, you may have met many challenges – spending more time together, negotiating your own space, working out the division of labour, especially with household chores or home schooling. These negotiations may well continue as lockdown eases.” Our own relationship with authority will have affected how we responded to restrictions and how we behave now. This can cause friction if different people in your household have different views. “Homebirds, who enjoy their own company, are likely to have enjoyed a lot of things that lockdown brought whereas the social butterflies among us, who thrive on human contact, will be eager to get out and about,” says Claire.

“Each of us has our own coping style, often born out of previous experiences and how we understand the current changing situation – some people are very cautious and will find it more challenging if others don’t adhere to the rules, others will be more flexible, more able to assimilate new rules and adapt to change. “If you isolated most of lockdown, don’t feel that you have to go out straight away,” Claire advises. “Break it down into small steps. Set yourself the challenge of taking one short walk to the park. The next time you go, maybe stay out a little longer. Don’t rush yourself. If you haven’t met anyone during lockdown, take it very slowly – just arrange to meet one person outside for a short time. “Likewise, if you have been working from home and have to go back to an office, don’t expect it to be the same as it was when you left. The workplace itself might be different, with social distancing rules, but you may also feel different. “And if your return to the workplace is not as easy as you expected, talk to your manager, tell them how you feel.”

CLAIRE’S TOP TIPS FOR THE NEW NORMAL • Be kind and compassionate to yourself • Be clear on what you can control and what you can’t control • Set yourself targets and don’t try to do too much too soon • Build your confidence • Speak out if you feel uncomfortable • Keep things in perspective – to help, look at how others are behaving in your own social group. It is also OK to follow your own path • Acceptance – recognise that some things are not within our gift to control or change at the moment • It is OK – to feel sad, anxious or angry. We have had a lot inflicted on us • Don’t compare yourself with others. Move at your own pace.

Claire is keen to remind us all that we are in this together and that we have the equipment to see us through. She said: “The mind is a brilliant, problem solving machine and its main function and purpose is to see that we operate safely. “We are living in unprecedented times but we can take comfort in the fact that we are not alone, none of us knows what it is going to be like and everyone is feeling their way.”




Some of us will find going back out into the world after Covid easier than others. However we deal with it we shouldn’t feel ashamed to be fearful says an expert.


ow will we feel as time goes on? Will Covid-19 be assigned to the history books, something to tell the grandkids of that strange, fearful period in 2020 when we stayed at home fearing for our lives? Will we ever feel brave enough to walk out into the world, mask-free, without fear of human contact or death?

The impact of Covid and its restrictions are undoubtedly impacting people’s emotional wellbeing.


Well, some of us will find that easier than others. The way we handle fear comes down to lots of things such as personality and life experience – read Diane Cooke’s personal account of her coping strategy.

But however we deal with it, we shouldn’t feel ashamed to be fearful, according to Mersey Care clinical psychologist, Sarah Jones. Sarah says fear of death is part of the human condition. From an evolutionary perspective we are primed to strive to live for as long as possible. “We have to reconcile that with the fact that death is inevitable and that can be anxiety provoking. People differ in how they process this,” she says. The impact of Covid and its restrictions are undoubtedly impacting people’s emotional wellbeing. Some people have lost their financial security, usual coping strategies, routines and connections. But others are seeing more positive aspects in terms of quality of life, more time spent with children, getting into an exercise regime and putting more time into self care.

It’s understandable for people to experience a range of emotions such as feeling fearful, anxious, depressed, angry or lacking in motivation.

Sarah says: “The overall take home is that it’s understandable for people to experience a range of emotions such as feeling fearful, anxious, depressed, angry or lacking in motivation. They may be going through lots of different feelings and part of that may be linked to our longevity being under threat.”

When faced with existential threats many people take comfort from reflecting on the meaning of life and its purpose. We all have different ways of coping with threat depending on things like our background history, personality and experience of relationships. We tend to ward off and bat away threatening thoughts and may feel overwhelmed or shell shocked when confronted with unwanted information. It can take time to accept and adapt. Sarah suggests for those struggling to process emotions to get reliable facts and

NEED SUPPORT? • Help yourself – our self help guide on post traumatic stress can be read online, downloaded or watched as a video.

information, but also to limit news consumption, which can lead to information overload and distress. “When faced with existential threats many people take comfort from reflecting on the meaning of life and its purpose, as Diane describes in her article. People recognising their core values and maintaining ways of living that align with these is very important. Thinking about what gives you self esteem helps you feel connected with other people. A lot of people turn to religion to help them at these times.” In terms of self care, having a routine, finding meaningful things to do, eating healthily, exercising and using mindfulness or meditation to encourage being present in the moment, can all have powerful effects.

FEATURE “It’s about kindness and compassion to yourself and others”, says Sarah.

If someone is really struggling with mental health issues then they should talk about it and seek help. “If someone is really struggling with mental health issues then they should talk about it, seek help from the wealth of services available. But let’s not forget that this is part of the human condition and it’s understandable that people might feel this way in the context of Covid.”


To download an app to help with anxiety visit merseycare.orcha.co.uk Samaritans: Freephone 116 123 samaritans.org Mental Health Foundation: mentalhealth.org.uk






What a strange, altered world we now live in. People wearing masks, getting irritated in supermarkets about social distancing. We recoil at every cough and sneeze. Our need for human contact is inextinguishable but we’re afraid to throw open our arms.


y 85 year old mum was screamed at because she’d wandered a little too close to a woman in a shop. Who screams at old ladies…unless they’re terrified? And that’s what we have become, scared for our lives. Covid-19 has turned us inside out and exposed our vulnerability, that weakness that most of us can’t bear to think about, our destructibility. As lockdown is lifted there has been a feeling of relief, a fulfilment of our desperate desire for normality. But who knows if that normal of before will ever return. Will we ever feel less vulnerable than we do right now?


It has often been said that the difference between humans and animals is our awareness that one day we will die. How wonderful to be blissfully ignorant of that fact. If death didn’t exist in our minds until it happened, what a joyous, fearless existence we could all have. In fact, humans have four existential fears – Groundlessness, Isolation, Loneliness and Death (1&2). This pandemic has presented us with all four in one devastating blow. So it’s no wonder that we’re all reeling with a form of post traumatic stress. It is in our nature to live, to strive and to create meaning out of this life. We are born with an inherent instinct to survive, so to find out that we could die at any moment induces panic.

But I have another thought, and from personal experience I know this to be true. Until we accept our own demise we will never learn to live our lives without fear. I was told that by a doctor shortly after being diagnosed with leukaemia, almost six years ago. She advised me to dwell on life and not death and I thought, “pah, easy for you to say,” and I spent a good while railing at the world and asking ”why me?” The leukaemia I have is incurable, but very slow moving. Some, sadly, die sooner rather than later and others manage to escape. My haematologist can’t say what my future holds.

REAL LIFE STORY Fear of death was stopping me living and there was something I could do about that. After diagnosis I woke up every morning gripped with fear, the thoughts, ‘I’m going to die, I’m going to die’ racing around my head, like an annoying Kylie tune. At any moment I could feel the terror of a panic attack coming on. ‘I’m going to die, I’m going to die’. I was fearing fear itself and that fear was turning me inside out. I couldn’t think straight. So I undertook a course of hypnotherapy at a cancer centre and learned how to harness those fears. And it was during one of those deep relaxation sessions that it hit me straight between the eyes. Yes, I’m going to die, we’re all going to die, me probably sooner than I’d like – but again that’s no guarantee as it’s an unpredictable disease – so stop fighting it, stop being angry, stop feeling sorry for yourself, kill the negativity and get on with it. Not dying, but living. What a light bulb moment that was. Fear of death was stopping me living and there was something I could do about that. I could wake up every morning and throw that annoying Kylie tune out of my head and focus on something amazing – my kids, my

life, my memories, my family, my loving relationships, laughter, humour, nature – just anything, but death. Over time it’s worked its magic. During the Covid pandemic, I should have locked myself away as I was instructed, but I didn’t. I walked miles alone every day without a face mask because I no longer had that fear of death. I was living my life and I would rather feel every minute of that life than hide away in fear in my bedroom. I don’t want to let life pass me by. I value it too much and that is a beautiful antidote to living in fear.

Stop fighting it, stop being angry, stop feeling sorry for yourself... and get on with it. So in the aftermath of Covid-19, don’t dwell on risk and fear. Re write the narrative into one of positivity, hope, beauty and all the wonderful things being a human entails. Life can be blown away in an instant, but better to learn how to live before the chance has gone.


Talk to us

Having trouble coping with Anxiety? How do I get help?

Talk Liverpool continue to accept referrals from anyone aged 16 or over and registered with a Liverpool GP. Assessment and treatment will be via telephone, online therapy via the SilverCloud programme and virtual face to face therapy via Attend Anywhere.

TIPS TO STOP THE FEAR: • Stay connected with people • Talk about your worries • Support and help others

Go to Talk Liverpool website talkliverpool.nhs.uk or call 0151 228 2300

• Feel prepared • Look after your body • Stick to the facts • Stay on top of difficult feelings • Do things you enjoy • Focus on the present • Look after your sleep. These tips are explained on the NHS website: www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/coronavirus-covid-19-anxiety-tips References 1. Yalom, I. (1980). Existential psychotherapy. New York, NY: Basic Books. 2. Koole, S., Greenberg, J., & Pyszcynski, T. (2006). Introducing science to the psychology of the soul: Experimental existential psychology. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 15, 212-216.


SMILE FOR THE CAMERA Our simple two step guide to successful video calling


hether it’s doing a presentation at a virtual conference or Facetiming your auntie you want to look and feel confident. It’s become part of our daily lives. If video calling sends you into a state of panic fear not – our two step guide will help you relax knowing that at least technically everything is set up to show you in your best light. Before you begin, it’s worth thinking about your device (smart phone, tablet, computer etc). The technology may be the same but the outcomes are often different – the most obvious example is the size of the picture and what is being seen by the person on the other end.


STEP ONE: ENVIRONMENT Have plenty of light, ideally in front of you. Overhead light will do, but often the best option is natural light. Tip: Don’t have a window behind you (unless you want to appear mysterious) – it will show you as a silhouette. Check what’s behind you – the last thing anyone you’re calling needs to see is your washing drying in the background! Use a plain wall as a backdrop. If there isn’t one find a space where no one can walk behind you. Unless you want your pets or children to be part of the chat, it’s a good idea to keep them out of the room. Both love to join in if they can hear voices!




That’s the question from NHS communications officer Joanne Cunningham. Here are her tips on staying the right side of social media.

STEP TWO: MAKING THE CALL If you’re using a phone or a tablet and holding it you should have a slightly bent arm, ideally a forearm’s distance from the screen. Further away your face can become too small and the focus is on the environment not you. The camera should be at eye level. Hold it too low, all they’ll see is up your nose! If you’re calling from a desktop computer, sit an arm’s length away from the screen with the camera (usually at the top of the screen) at eye level. If using a laptop have the camera at eye level, so that you are not looking down at it. If your call is for business it’s a good idea to prepare well. Know your subject and maybe make a few bullet points, but don’t follow a pre-written script. Having the words in front of you may prevent you truly listening to the other person because you are conscious of staying on script and saying what you have planned. Embrace the idea, take these first two steps – and enjoy!

Watch our Guide to Successful Video Presentations youtu.be/0qtyOdsE7B8 for more tips

“We’ve got ‘Facetimers’, WhatsApp family groups and Skype meetings – who’d even heard of Zoom before the pandemic? Social media is great for keeping in touch, but it’s worth taking a breath before posting. We’ve all seen the celebrities who’ve had to make tearful apologies many years later for something posted in their youth or early career. Check your employer’s social media policy. Using your own account for work can blur boundaries and it’s not the place for chatting or discussing internal issues. You can also become an unwitting spokesperson for your organisation, and if your account is public what you say can easily be taken and used in the media as a quote. Some employers even look at social media profiles before interviews; do you really want the person who’s interviewing you to see you dancing on a table on your last holiday or even worse complaining about your current employer? Think before you post. If you use a staff social media group think before you post. Would you be happy for it to go in your staff bulletin? Would you make that comment in a team meeting? Or say it to your manager? If not don’t post it. Social media is now part of daily life. Think how your words may affect someone or how you would feel if it was said to you, and remember ‘in a world where you can be anything, be kind’.


AFTER THE STORM Will things ever be the same? It’s the question on many lips. Probably not says humanitarian worker Rebecca Horn. But there are benefits to be had. By Jackie Rankin


ebecca’s work takes her all over the world, helping organisations to support the psychological wellbeing of communities affected by conflict and disaster. In these situations she sees the impacts of war, floods and famine but also the resilience and strength of individuals and whole communities. “Even the worst situations where a community has been completely fractured by conflict or disaster, only a small proportion of people need psychological help,” says Rebecca. “They may be displaced and have few possessions, but as long as they feel safe and have their basic needs met they’re able to contribute to the rebuilding, which in turn helps them grow stronger.”


After an emergency her role is to identify the resources and capacity that still exist within a community, and help its members build on those. “Even in the midst of disaster, people and communities have their own inner strength and resourcefulness as well as external resources. The key to their recovery is for them to recognise these and make use of them.”

WHAT IF THE FUTURE IS UNPRECEDENTED? “Where there’s uncertainty about what the future looks like, it is normal to feel anxious” she says. “We don’t know how things will be, we have little control over our lives, and it’s difficult to make plans when what’s coming next might not be what we imagine”. An important factor in recovering from a difficult or traumatic experience like the Covid pandemic is a sense of self efficacy – recognising that there are things we can do to make life better for ourselves or someone else. “Making ourselves useful in the recovery process is a way of saying ‘I’m not a victim’. It might be why so many people signed up for the NHS volunteer programme, why we were baking and sewing masks and scrubs. We feel better when we’re helping other people. It benefits the person being helped, but it also helps the helper.” It seems baking for other people is an example of another crucial factor in recovery from distressing events – maintaining relationships. “When everything else is

stripped away often relationships are what’s left, so we start to realise their importance” says Rebecca. We’ve also reclaimed something else that was in short supply before the pandemic – time. “Lockdown for some of us means we have more choices about how to use our time,” says Rebecca. “Having to stay put has given us a chance to reassess our priorities and choose how we spend time rather than meet other people’s expectations.” It seems we’re emerging from our lockdown experience a few lessons the wiser. “We’ve had time to work out what’s important to us,” says Rebecca. For most of us that’s connecting with people, less pressure and more time. And that can only be a good thing. • Psychologist and independent psychosocial specialist Dr Rebecca Horn is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Global Health and Development, Queen Margaret University Edinburgh.

THE NEW NORMAL Our reactions to the pandemic are normal says cardiac specialist nurse Shere Ruano. But unless we express our feelings we can drown in stress.


here experienced post traumatic stress while working as an arrhythmia nurse specialist. It led her to develop online resilience training based around breathing and mindfulness through her company RhythmiaBreath. She explains: “When you become stressed levels of dopamine, the hormone you get when you’re in love, that relaxes you, is replaced by cortisol, the stress hormone.

Simply learning to breathe properly can make us more prepared. When tiredness and irritability, our human smoke detectors, appear we’re so stressed we ignore them. If you’re stressed for a long period like the current situation, you reach a point where your body and mind need to recharge.”



enough oxygen into our bodies. Simply learning to breathe properly can make us more prepared, more resilient to the situation,” says Shere.


Her course is being offered free to NHS staff and MC magazine readers in partnership with Mersey Care until next spring as part of Life Rooms online (liferooms.org)

“Anxiety causes us to develop an abnormal way of breathing where we don’t get

It explores coping and adapting to stressful situations to make us more resilient in the

Shere Ruano says simply learning to breathe properly can make us more resilient.

face of challenges. Through lectures, quizzes and practical activities it will help participants develop coping mechanisms and offer practical tips to use right away. Rhythmia Breath: info@rhythmiabreath.com For more information go to: liferooms.org


Rebecca Horn (pictured opposite) uses them to offer uplifting messages around her home area in Waterloo.

them. I thought the masks would make the connection with the current situation. When I’m working overseas I take bits of old material and thread with me and use my spare moments to embroider small banners which I bring home and tie to trees around St John’s Road. It’s a calming, thoughtful activity when I’m far from home but is also a way for me to stay in touch with my community when I’m away.”

“The technique is used to display positive messages where people can easily see

Find out more about craftivism at craftivist-collective.com

The cotton masks on the iron men at Crosby beach are embroidered with just a few words – but they speak volumes. The Stay Safe messages are examples of craftivism – combining craft and activism – to engage people in social justice issues in a quiet, non-confrontational manner.




Community spirit – something you can’t quite see, you know it exists and you miss it when it’s not there. Clapping for Carers, rainbows in windows, supportive WhatsApp groups or just a friendly ‘hello’ on a daily walk all help make a difference to where we live. We meet some of the people who have gone the extra mile to make their community extra special during lockdown.

Some of the cast of We’ll Meet Again


The residents of Cambrian Road, Chester

One little street in Chester achieved global stardom when its socially-distanced VE Day musical went viral. The residents of Cambrian Road in the city’s Garden Quarter put together a five-minute celebration of neighbourliness with We’ll Meet Again, which has already been viewed on YouTube 60K times. Picked up by BBC Breakfast, the bunting clad street and its residents also adorned the front pages of national newspapers and online all over the world. People were asking on social media if you needed to audition to Matt Baker buy a house there and there were even people setting up mock funding sites to raise cash to move to Chester. Musical director Matt Baker who put together the project puts the musical’s success down to the area’s legacy. He said: “We have had a fantastic community association here for about 20 years. We have held festivals, made films and set up choirs involving every part of the community including schoolchildren, university students, people who run local businesses and those living in our residential homes.”


Matt Baker

View We’ll Meet Again on YouTube on the Garden Quarter You Tube Channel youtube.com/watch?v=OlEdJmm5snw

If you would like to share a story of someone special in your community, email communications@merseycare.nhs.uk




Stacey Oliver

Stacey’s Doorstep Photo shoot of Rebecca Dodd, her partner Mark and boys Finley, 6 and Millen, 3.

Freelance photographer Stacey Oliver began the year with 45 weddings booked in her diary. She had snapped four beautiful couples when lockdown was announced and all but six of the remaining occasions have now had to be postponed. Undeterred Stacey decided to offer Doorstep Photo Shoots for people wanting to chronicle their life in lockdown, at the same time as raising funds for a charity close to her heart. “I use a long lens so that I don’t have to get too close and I can stand as far as four metres away.” Every time someone books a doorstep photo shoot, Stacey donates £5 to the British Heart Foundation: “My father died of a heart attack at just 52 and the charity has always been important to me,” she said. Stacey thinks that time has helped community spirit flourish: “I have lived in my house for 15 years and have only now got to speak to some of my neighbours, especially when we came out to clap for our carers. I always used to think I had to be out doing things with my two boys but this time in lockdown has taught me to appreciate more what I have at home and what is on my own doorstep.” Stacey’s website is staceyoliverphotography.co.uk


CROW ABOUT Kathryn Gallagher Kathryn Gallagher has lived in her community for just a year but says that Stanney Oaks near Ellesmere Port is exactly where she would choose to be locked down. Kathryn and neighbour Yvette Byrne are just the sorts of people who hold a community together and were the first to join a WhatsApp group to help vulnerable people during lockdown. Keeping in touch via a successful community Facebook page, the pair came up with the idea of a scarecrow festival to celebrate the NHS and key workers during the pandemic. The trail around the estate, of more than 50 scarecrows, even has a worksheet for children with puzzles to solve and money raised will go towards upkeep of the estate’s green areas plus an ‘unlock party’ for residents in the future. Kathryn says community spirit is all about people: “It’s pretty horrendous what we’ve been through and everyone really needed to be uplifted” she said. “It’s been great that we have all been together through this – people have been so kind. We have even had people protecting the scarecrows with plastic sheets during the storms!”

Kathryn Gallagher and Yvette Byrne with two of the scarecrows




When the world was clapping for carers prisoners around the country were banging on their cell doors. Not in protest but appreciation. Just like us.


he pandemic has brought our world and theirs a little closer. Lack of freedom, rules imposed with penalties for transgressions, a yearning to see loved ones, and fears of a new unknown, creates a strange affinity. While wider society is moving out of lockdown the prison environment cannot support relaxing of rules without


putting health at risk. Nationally prisoners and staff alike have tragically died from Covid. At HMP Garth Prison in Leyland men stay in their cells 23 hours a day to protect them from infection. They leave only to shower and take exercise. Consultant clinical psychologist Simon Crowther is the clinical lead at the

The pandemic has brought our world and theirs a little closer.

Beacon Unit based at HMP Garth. A partnership service between Mersey Care and the prison service, the Beacon supports 48 prisoners who have experienced significant trauma early in their lives. A cornerstone of the service is the supportive relationships that exist between Beacon staff and prisoners.

THE NEW NORMAL “These men have challenging life experiences often involving trauma so it’s taken a long time to build positive relationships and gain trust” said Simon. “In ‘normal’ times their days would be spent outside their cells in therapeutic treatment programmes with our team, so lockdown has led to a significant loss of support and relationships; not just with staff but also their peers.” The Beacon staff team responded by developing creative ways of offering support and maintaining relationships. They accompany prisoners on laps of the exercise yard, giving them a chance to talk. One to one sessions now happen through in cell telephone calls.

These men have challenging life experiences often involving trauma.

Prisoners raised funds for Captain Tom Moore’s charity walk.

He’s struck by acts of kindness to each other. Staff have donated DVDs to create a library. Projects from history to creative writing are now offered in cells to provide meaningful occupation. The wider prison at HMP Garth also reached out to prisoners, providing phone credit so people can ring their families, and paying for additional TV channels. “In all these activities an important part has been maintaining contact and relationships, even if this is different than usual. Many of the resident’s trauma related difficulties are magnified at times of anxiety and uncertainty, so having contact with each other can help with this” says Simon. He’s struck by acts of kindness shown by Beacon residents to each other, staff and society. “Prisoners check up on each other every day. They have very little money, yet they raised £600 after hearing about the NHS fundraising appeal and Captain Tom Moore’s 100 lap walk,” he said. There’s a realisation among prisoners that the emotions of lockdown – lack of freedom and meaningful occupation,

Simon Crowther, clinical Lead at the Beacon Unit based at HMP Garth.

isolation from loved ones, restrictions on choice, and fear of a new unknown after Covid – are felt by staff too. Simon says it’s created a genuine solidarity. “They see us working hard to support them. They ask how we are and tell us they feel fortunate to be at the Beacon.” Lockdown may not end soon for prisoners and the consequences of such levels of isolation and restriction will only be known down the line, but for now everyone feels grateful for what they still have. Just like us.

I’m very aware that this is far from over, but the support and love at the Beacon has made me feel safe… Beacon resident.





currently work in Ashworth High Secure Hospital where we care for some of the most challenging patients in the country.

Recovery can be difficult, but despite the danger they pose to themselves or others, it’s amazing the progress that can be made as the team draws strengths from each other and we help patients when others may have lost hope in them, and they need our support the most. While I’m not from the city, I love Liverpool and have “grown up” in Mersey Care so to speak, working with some incredible people throughout the organisation and right across


Speciality registrar in forensic psychiatry and deputy lead governor

the city. Being a Governor is a chance to give something back. Now, more than at any other time, we’re seeing the difference that we can not only make to the person in front of us, but how we are responsible for and can have an impact on our wider community as well. Similarly to many of the patients I see, while we currently face much adversity, it’s inspiring to see how Mersey Care is not only surviving but thriving as individuals across the organisation support each other and emerge stronger.

We help patients when others may have lost hope in them and they need our support the most. To learn more about our Council of Governors, go to merseycare.nhs.uk


Our 2020 elections will begin soon to fill seven seats on the Council of Governors. Further details will be sent to all Mersey Care members.


It’s a privilege to be a part of that journey and I have no doubt that our future together is exciting.

If you would like to find out more about what a governor role involves this information can be found on our website merseycare.nhs.uk/council-ofgovernors We plan for our Annual General Meeting and Members event to take place later in the year.

Find out more about our membership and governors at: Website: merseycare.nhs.uk. Phone: 0151 471 2303 or 0151 473 2778 Email: membership@merseycare.nhs.uk Write to: Alison Bacon, Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, V7 Building, Kings Business Park, Prescot, Liverpool L34 1PJ.




When Sarah Jones, the Shadow Minister for Housing was interviewed on Sky News about testing for coronavirus, there was more chat on social media about her vinyl collection. The recently formed Twitter handle @BCredibility ‘what you say is not as important as the bookcase behind you’ has 76k followers.


ince lockdown began, we’ve watched politicians, presenters, even princes talking on TV about everything from coronavirus and the state of the nation, to our NHS heroes and other very important issues. But who, like me, isn’t distracted from the main point by the background? I spend more time wondering whether the scientist on my screen has had a loft conversion, or why the MP making a serious point didn’t think to tidy his bookshelves. Why is nosing so compelling? To scoff at their bad taste or even get some interior design ideas? Or is it that a look inside someone’s home is a glimpse into their psyche? Book choices are especially tasty offerings. That’s why I was so disappointed during the VE Day commemorations to see that historian Dan Snow’s bookcases were HALF EMPTY! I’d fully expected his man cave to have every hard back from Gibbon’s The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire to Max Hastings’ tome on the Vietnam War. Channel 4 presenter Krishnan Guru-Murthy told the Guardian online that he spent a night rearranging his living room to avoid showing books which included Charlie and Lola!


Talking of kids, I was excited at the prospect of getting a peep at William and Kate’s Anmer Hall home for their interview on home schooling George and Charlotte. It quickly turned to dismay when it became evident the Royals were in the scullery, with not so much as a calendar on the wall! In contrast I loved Royal correspondent Roya Nikkah’s setting for glorious isolation – a chic, modern townhouse with a feature wall worthy of Homes and Gardens. Likewise Captain (or should I say Colonel) Tom’s not too shabby back yard. This new pastime throws up surprises too. Who’d have thought that First Minister of Ireland Arlene Foster – a stern woman by anyone’s standards – would have a stuffed koala peeping out of the back of the sofa during her interview on the proposed easing of lockdown? When all this is over, and we reflect on what we miss, one of mine will be my daily dose of ‘Through the Keyhole’.


LIFE ROOMS IN YOUR LIVING ROOM Life Room’s Amy McMeekin, part of the team keeping communities supported during and beyond lockdown.

The day before Life Rooms in Walton closed its doors for lockdown occupational therapist Amy McMeekin looked around at the people inside with sadness. “I thought ‘what’s going to happen to them?” she said.


ersey Care’s four Life Rooms recovery and wellbeing centres have seen more than 100,000 people come through their doors since opening four years ago. The centres closed in March as the country went into lockdown. A week later, with a telephone helpline set up in a meeting room and a film maker on site, deputy service lead Amy and the team had created Life Rooms Online, a virtual version of the courses, programmes and support groups that have been so successful.


Fast forward three months, the doors may still be closed, but with a library of films made by Life Rooms staff, service users and partners, and a fully fledged call centre offering one to one support – Life Rooms is coming to you.

Gary Thorpe head of recovery and integration says what began as an instinctive response to the pandemic is now an integral part of what Life Rooms offer.

The films explore topical issues such as the importance of routine, and how to gain confidence and set your own goals.

“At first we described the online service as a temporary measure aimed at plugging a gap but now we’ve developed a service offer we would never want to lose.”

WHAT’S ON? Move over Saturday Kitchen! Life Rooms has its own online version, including junior chef Jacob who guides families through easy dishes like pear crumble and no bake flapjacks. Liverpool University’s creative writing courses and yoga with Movema are among online courses from cultural partners.

Check out chef Jacob’s videos of tasty recipes for families to make together.


REMEMBER DUSTY BIN? Are you your worst critic? Life Rooms film ‘My Cruel Best Friend’ can help you be kind to yourself.

FEELING THE PRESSURE OF HOME SCHOOLING? Mum Gemma and former teacher Iain, both part of the Life Rooms support team, discuss how school chat groups can make you feel inadequate. In the film Gemma reveals her own anxieties of parenting during the pandemic“. You question whether you’re doing enough, then you doubt your ability and your anxiety goes up,” she says. Iain shares ideas he uses with his own family, including a mixed weekly activity timetable to give his son some structure.


ind out the story behind one of the biggest shows of the 70s with Life Rooms and Distinct Nostalgia, a unique free podcast collection for TV and film of yesteryear.

Creators Made in Manchester bring three new programmes every week, with exclusive documentaries, shows and dramas celebrating and reuniting some of the biggest names in TV and film. As part of a series of shows to celebrate EastEnders’ 35 years, Gary Hailes, one half of EastEnders’ first gay couple talks about how that first on screen gay kiss in soap caused a real furore.

If you’re struggling with your mental health there are films on combatting low mood to dealing with stress and feeling vulnerable. Go to YouTube and search Life Rooms or go to liferooms.org



he Life Rooms Pathways Team turned a classroom into a call centre in under two weeks. Pathways advisors, who would normally see people face to face for support on a wide range of health and social issues, now offer a telephone and email service to the public, taking referrals from GPs and other health professionals.

How well do you know your Avengers? Every week the Distinct Nostalgia Mind of the Month quiz puts a TV, film or radio fan to the test about their chosen specialist subject. Go to: liferooms.org Distinct Nostalgia: distinctnostalgia.com

Staff have been trained to manage calls from people who might be distressed and since setting up the ‘phone line more than 5,000 calls have been received.

WE’RE THERE TO LISTEN Deputy service lead, Neil Tunstall said “We set out to see every call as a person, just like we would if they came in. There’s a story behind everyone. Some are lonely, some are in a crisis. It doesn’t matter, we’re there.” Call the Pathways team on 0151 478 6556

This is a TV enthusiast’s paradise… thepodcastradio.co.uk




Remember it’s critical to keep washing your hands regularly for 20 seconds. For more ways to stay safe go to gov.uk/coronavirus

Contact details Got some news you’d like to share? Contact us at the following address.


Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, V7 Building, Kings Business Park, Prescot, Merseyside L34 1PJ Telephone: 0151 473 0303 Email: communications@merseycare.nhs.uk


MC MAGAZINE is published by Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust and produced by the communications team, Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, V7 Building, Kings Business Park, Prescot, Merseyside L34 1PJ T: 0151 473 0303 E: communications@merseycare.nhs.uk W: merseycare.nhs.uk. MC MAGAZINE is available in other formats on request.

Profile for Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust

MC Magazine - Summer 2020