Touchstone’s Community Support Team (CST) works with people with severe and enduring mental health problems – many of whom have not been able to access support from other services.
Using an assertive outreach approach, they meet with clients, helping them to recognise their own strengths and to use those strengths to set and achieve goals based on their own aspirations. The team provides 7 day a week support and seeks to develop a  collaborative, trusting relationship with clients.
Many clients have complex support needs and a chaotic life, but by making use of the support provided by CST are able to make significant improvements to their situation. Six months after ending support, clients are asked to feedback on the effects that the service has had in their life. Last year, every client surveyed said that they had felt either “supported” or “very supported” by the team and 82% had noticed a big improvement in their mental health and well-being since working with the team.
CST has recently successfully supported a client who was willing to share their story but who’s real name we withhold for confidentiality purposes. 

Jane, a 54 year old qualified nurse, was referred to CST in January 2012, when she had been diagnosed with reactive depression. Jane’s mood was low and she struggled to cope with practical tasks such as shopping and cleaning. Following her son being taken into long term foster care, Jane had little hope for the future and felt there was no point in carrying on. She would often isolate herself from others and would stay in bed for days on end. Jane had no close friends or family except her son. She was very unhappy with the way she had been treated by social services.  Jane felt they were not working with her and were not committed to reuniting her with her son.
CST received Jane’s referral early in  2012. The case was taken on and since then, the team has supported Jane to challenge some of social services’ decisions regarding her son.
As a result, Jane has made some significant decisions about their relationship and her life in general. CST supported Jane to go back to Stocks Hill Day Centre where she started to participate in arts and crafts groups. Jane started to volunteer there, facilitating weekly classes for other service users. This experience has given Jane the confidence to join other activities. Jane now regularly helps at Canal Connections during school holidays, running craft classes and taking children on canal cruises. For the last six months, Jane has also been acting as a mentor for the Right Direction team at the probation service, which she is really proud of.
Jane  also joined CST’s  Outlook Group , which she participated in and enjoyed. The group gave Jane confidence in her self worth and encouraged her to pursue her own goals. Jane was supported to apply to go on the “back to nursing practice” course, which she has now completed. Jane is hoping that this year she will be able to recommence her nursing career. Jane feels much more confident as a person now and feels empowered to take back control of her life.  She is looking forward to her future.

This is just a snippet of the wonderful work that is carried out by the talented staff of Touchstone’s Community Support Team. If you want to make a referral to CST, please download the referral form and information pack.