Monthly Archives: August 2018

Listening Ear

Listening Ear provides a range of therapeutic services to support adults who are experiencing mild to moderate mental health issues. They have recently been commissioned by Brightlife (Lottery funding) to deliver two ambitious new services for older people (50+); Men’s Health Counselling Service and Friendship After Bereavement.

Men’s Health Counselling Service

Men’s Health is a Counselling service for men aged 50 and over in the Cheshire West and Chester area, presenting with social isolation due to ‘major life changes’ in later life. Listening Ear recognise social connectedness as a major factor in maintaining long-term positive mental health and resilience, and therefore are providing this service to help reduce social isolation amongst men.

The service offers 6 sessions of one to one Counselling and upon completion, will be given the opportunity to refer on to a Horticultural Therapy group or other positive group activity.

The aim of the service is to reduce social isolation and loneliness for people due to major life changes in later life and the pathway is:

• Referral made to Listening Ear by self, GP or 3rd Party
• Referral is Triaged
• Referral is assessed for suitability via telephone
• 1-1 Counselling session usually lasting 50 minutes, weekly over a period of 6 weeks
• Signposting to Horticultural Group or other positive activity

Men’s Health Remit:

The service is accessible to individuals experiencing mild to moderate mental health issues such as grief reaction and lower level depression and anxiety, stress and low self-esteem.

The service is unable to accept referrals from individuals experiencing moderate to severe and enduring mental health issues such as severe depression or anxiety, trauma, personality disorders or individuals receiving treatment in secondary care. In this instance, referral to more specialist services such as the Western Cheshire Primary Care Mental Health Team would be appropriate.

Friendship After Bereavement (FAB)

Friendship After Bereavement (FAB) is a post-bereavement service for men and women over 50 in the Cheshire West and Cheshire area. The service initially offers 6 weekly one-to-one Listening sessions with one of our trained volunteers. Following this, you will then be given the opportunity to join our facilitator-led Friendship After Bereavement group. The FAB group offers a safe and confidential space to explore issues such as the physical and emotional effects of bereavement. Group members meet for lunch, organise trips and generally start to enjoy life again.

The aim of the service is to reduce social isolation and loneliness for people bereaved and the pathway is:

• Referral made to Listening Ear by self, GP or 3rd Party
• Referral is Triaged
• Referral is assessed for suitability via telephone
• 1-1 “Listening based intervention” usually lasting 50 minutes, weekly over a period of 6 weeks
• Fortnightly peer group support and organised ‘social events’ (£1 attendance fee charged)

FAB Remit:

The service is accessible to individuals experiencing mild to moderate mental health issues such as grief reaction and lower level depression and anxiety, stress and low self-esteem.

The service is unable to accept referrals from individuals experiencing moderate to severe and enduring mental health issues such as severe depression or anxiety, trauma, personality disorders or individuals receiving treatment in secondary care. In this instance, referral to more specialist services such as the Western Cheshire Primary Care Mental Health Team would be appropriate.

The Men’s Health Cheshire programme and Friendship After Bereavement Cheshire programme currently do not have waiting lists. To refer a person  please contact the team via the following channels:

Call: 0151 488 6648
Email: referral@listening-ear.co.uk
Website: www.listening-ear.co.uk

Viv Gee Volunteer

“Through Brightlife I’ve met lots of new people which has really helped me in older age. It does take confidence to get out of the house, walk into somewhere new and strike up a conversation. Even though I am used to it, I still get nervous but if you can make that first step, meeting new people can make all of the difference. I want people to know they don’t have to be alone.”

Viv Gee, Chair of the Older People’s Alliance for Brightlife jokes that she has never been busier since retiring! Viv was previously involved in a North West forum on ageing and got involved with Brightlife because she liked the fact that it is led and designed by older people for older people.

Viv has experienced other projects where assumptions have been made about what the older people will want from it and thinks Brightlife’s approach is exactly what is needed. She believes that there is a wide spectrum to the subject of loneliness. Viv said: “When people talk about loneliness in older people there is the temptation to think about Granny at home on her own. But it isn’t just cut and dried – it has various strands to it. For instance I know that you can have social interactions with people but then go home and feel lonely. What we need is greater co-ordination to tackle the issues – these campaigns like Brightlife are great and we now need more co-ordination from the new Minister for Loneliness so that people can learn what is working well and how to replicate that in more communities.”

Viv understands that it takes confidence for people to go out and make new friends in older age but wants to encourage them to give it a go and sees international Women’s Day as an important time for women to be recognised and taken seriously. She is also a member of the WI and explains that back in 1943 the resolution was passed at the WI for equal pay for women, so it is disheartening that we are still not there.

“There’s still so much to do but International Women’s Day gives us a platform to say we are here, we mean something and we have got a lot to do, so let’s get on with it! If I could give my younger self some advice it would be to stop worrying about things and just do it!”

When asked how she feels to be recognised as an amazing woman by Brightlife, she said: “I really don’t class myself as an amazing woman. I get a great deal out of volunteering and really enjoy being part of something that is helping to make the lives of older people better.”

Interview by Kate Cousens in celebration of International Women’s Day 2018

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