Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Self-harm research project - SHARE UK - can you help?

by guest author Amanda Marchant

I'm Amanda, a PhD student and research assistant at Swansea University. I run the SHARE UK webpage, Facebook and Twitter accounts. I also work on other research projects looking at childhood and adolescent mental health, self-harm and suicide prevention. As a team we want our research to help improve mental health support. 

Reports out in the summer suggest that 1 in 4 fourteen year old girls and 1 in 10 boys have harmed themselves in the past year. Self-harm is very common but research suggests that up to half of young people who self-harm don’t receive help from anyone. 

We want this to change and for this we need your help! SHARE UK is a ground breaking study looking to learn more about self-harm from people who have experienced it themselves. We want to make a real change but we need you to help us learn about what would make a difference to you. This could be better support in hospitals, schools, anti-bullying policies, help online or maybe even some new ideas! 

The study can be completed all online and you can tell us as much or as little as you like. If you have any ideas or comments or if you would like to write for our blog then we’d love to hear from you too at shareuk@swansea.ac.uk

The UK's first self-harm research register – over 200 people strong so far! 

The most important part of any research with self-harm is real people. We can’t make change without you to tell us about your experience. We have created a register that gives everyone the chance to sign up to hear more about future research and studies that they might like to take part in. People can sign up online and we hope that this will give everyone a voice in research.

We have had over 200 people sign up already and this is amazing! Research is an important part of the push for services, government spending and how support is organised. If as many people as possible take part then we can make this push for change even stronger.

What you guys say

We’ve had some amazing feedback and ideas from you guys especially from our feedback survey where you get to write pretty much whatever you like! Here are some of our highlights:

‘There needs to be more work on the barriers to finding help for self-harm. Things could change to help people engage with services.’

‘There needs to be more community based mental health education classes. This could improve social skills, confidence and give people a chance to support one another.’

‘There needs to be more support for new mums.’

‘The topic of self-harm is very important to me and to so many people. Thank you so much for working in this field!’

The good? Not so good? Dark or not? Role of the internet

World Suicide Prevention Day brought about a lot of debate about the press and the internet and the way we talk about suicide, self-harm and mental health. Creators of content online can reach so many people and have an important role in starting conversations and reducing stigma. This doesn’t always happen though and there have been several high profile cases of online bullying, predators and other dangers conjuring images of a dark and precarious online world.

We want to know more about what you think. What’s good and what’s bad? This can help to make guidance for bloggers, internet service providers and anyone who makes content online for how best to talk about suicide, self-harm and mental health in a sensitive way.

By learning more about how people use the NHS we can help to make it better. Every time we use the health service data happens. This can be from a seeing a GP to visiting A&E or staying in hospital. This data has been anonymised and secured to be used for research.

Here at SHARE UK we want to take this even further. We are giving people the option of linking the information from the SHARE UK site to anonymised healthcare data. All the information is separated from personal details so even our researchers cannot identify anyone. The possibilities for research from this anonymised data are huge and it means that we can give extra meaning to the information collected from the NHS. This could help us make a real impact on healthcare.

To learn more we have created a Pinboard style dashboard where you can add anything you have viewed online to our media databank. Anything you upload will only be seen by you and our research team and you can add comments about sites or groups if you want to. We use this databank to look at things like quality, images and potential for harm or for support.   

Want to know more? 

We need your help to make a real difference. Your story can help make sure that in the future no one has to face self-harm alone. 

If you are aged 16 or over and would like to learn more or sign up visit www.share-uk.co.uk or email shareuk@swansea.ac.uk 

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Introducing SilverCloud – online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Becka Williams, Project Manager, SilverCloud CBT
Last month I was pleased to accept an invitation to attend a Mental Health Partnership Board meeting at our Llandrindod offices, as it gave me the chance to find out more about the new online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy offering in Powys. It is called SilverCloud

Becka Williams, the Project Manager overseeing roll out of this new service across the county, gave us some background, an update on project progress and outlined plans for future development.

It was an interesting session to learn more about the new service, as individual representatives attend this quarterly partnership meeting. The reps are people who either have used, or care for somebody who has used, mental health services in Powys. Their role is to make sure user/carer voice is included in the planning of services, and here they were able to voice some immediate thoughts about online CBT.

Joy Garfitt, Assistant Director of Mental Health Services for Powys Teaching Health Board, began by explaining that CBT is a therapy that can help us think differently, particularly if we have unhelpful thoughts.


Some regular readers may remember that we wrote about an earlier provision of online CBT in Powys, which was called Beating the Blues. This 3 year pilot scheme was spearheaded by a European funded project called Mastermind, but unfortunately engagement with this model was not brilliant. Out of 543 referrals to Beating the Blues, only 100 people completed the full course. Many disengaged with the process and some did not even start after being referred. Mastermind’s key aim, however, was to implement online therapies in rural areas across Europe, rather than to monitor the effectiveness of the actual CBT programme. But the project was invaluable in that many lessons were taken from this early work to help inform a new improved provision of online CBT in Powys.

In fact, many benefits of online CBT were identified directly as a result of the Mastermind scheme:

  • Online CBT provides care closer to home – anytime, anywhere. 
  • It reduces the number of unnecessary appointments. 
  • It gives almost immediate access to therapy for people. 
  • It reduces the travel time of people using services, carers and healthcare professionals. 
  • It supports Prudent Healthcare – an approach at the heart of A Healthier Wales, the Welsh Government's long-term plan for health and care. 
The Welsh Government is now providing funding to continue and upscale online CBT not just in Powys but across the length and breadth of Wales. Powys Teaching Health Board is leading on the roll-out of SilverCloud across the country, starting with Powys. The aim is to:
  • Increase options available to people experiencing mild / moderate anxiety and / or depression. 
  • Reduce waiting lists / times by improving quicker access to therapies. 
  • Improve equality of access to mental health care across both urban and rural areas.

Project progress 

SilverCloud online CBT went live in Powys on 1 May 2018. There are now 8 programmes available, including Space from Anxiety & Depression, Space from Stress and Space from Chronic Pain. Since the launch about 300 people have been referred to the programme, which can be accessed on smartphones and tablets as well as computers. Referrers can be GPs, Occupational Therapists, staff in the Community Mental Health, Local Primary Care and Long Term Conditions teams. In future people will be able to refer themselves onto the programme.

At this point in the meeting the individual reps began asking questions about managing risk. What happens if someone is considering self-harming? If it’s midnight? If someone is extremely lonely and this is all they have been offered to deal with their depression or anxiety? Joy described the online CBT as “adding another tool in the box for people”. It might not be right for those wanting face-to-face talking therapy, but others may prefer to do it privately. It is not aimed at people experiencing severe and enduring mental health issues. If someone has complex needs they will be referred to a different service. They may still access SilverCloud CBT but as an additional therapy to enhance what is already being done by mental health practitioners working to provide care in primary (via GP services) and secondary (via Community Mental Health) teams.

From day one when people register on SilverCloud, they have access to all the programmes for 12 months. Staff closely monitor their engagement with the platform for 3 months, but people can provide feedback for the whole period. Risk alerts are set in place, so that if anyone expresses an intention to self-harm they are contacted straight away and referred to a health care professional as appropriate. The service is monitored between 9am – 5pm during the week, but details of support / help out-of-hours are provided. Online CBT is not designed as an emergency response service.

People can write in journals as part of the programme, and choose to share (or not) the content with the online CBT co-ordinator. Some online content, such as the Mindfulness videos, can be downloaded onto a computer for future use. If access to an online device is not available people can use computers with privacy screens at their local libraries and further options will be available at Job Centres ultimately. Regular online reviews take place with the co-ordinator, and phone conversations are also possible. The whole process is confidential unless policies around safeguarding issues and / or criminal intent are set in motion.

Future development

Work is currently underway to further develop some of the strands of the online CBT, including:

  • A combination of online CBT and face-to-face counselling, known as ‘blended’ counselling. The health board will be working with third sector organisations to provide additional support to some people using SilverCloud CBT. 
  • The self-referral model for those who do not see their GP or access any other help. This will be the first time in Powys that open access is given to such a service and should be available in the New Year. 
Whilst Welsh translation of relevant forms and help pages has already taken place, the platform as a whole now needs to be translated. The design and roll-out of an All-Wales SilverCloud online CBT platform is then the key next step.

And, importantly, Becka is very keen to receive feedback from people who have used SilverCloud CBT, to help inform future development of the online provision in Powys and further afield.

If you have used SilverCloud online CBT and would like to let us know what you think, you can email us at mentalhealth@pavo.org.uk Alternatively contact Becka Williams directly at becka.williams@wales.nhs.uk

And what are your thoughts on online CBT generally? Let us know in the comments box below.

Feedback about SilverCloud CBT 

I found SilverCloud very easy to use and was surprised at how well developed and researched the platform was. 

I have found SilverCloud hugely useful in teaching me ways to improve my mental health and managing stressful situations. I am excited to continue using the skills I’ve learnt. 

I have been feeling more positive since taking part in this programme. I have been able to do simple things like taking the bus and going for a walk alone a lot more easily than about a month ago.

Thursday, 27 September 2018

How playing Pokémon Go helps my mental health

by Mark Evans aka wildfairyboi 

As a sufferer of anxiety and depression, and suspected Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), I spend a lot of time alone in my room. I find it extremely hard to start a conversation and when people begin to talk to me I get dizzy. My heart begins to race and I find it hard to catch a breath so I kinda shut off to the world. To some I might seem extremely ignorant. But this is not the case. I would love to be able to just walk up to someone random, introduce myself, and have a good old chat...

However, since I can remember I have always freaked out at the prospect of meeting someone new .. Some days I even find it hard to talk to people I know very well including my own family so I'm always looking for reasons to give me confidence to leave my room... 

As a 90s baby I grew up watching Pokémon and I loved it throughout my childhood…. And, not gonna lie, I still watch it to date… So when Niantic released Pokémon Go I was really excited to give it a go to the point I ordered a new contract mobile specifically to play... I was so taken in to the game catching all my favourite Pokémon I started going out all night when there was nobody around to play the game. I started to go out nearly every night. I walked around town and the lake every day for nearly a year.

Then I got ill and also had to look after one of my mates so I stopped playing so much. I actually didn't pick up the game for nearly 9 months as I was with my friend every day trying to fix her life up. Or I was really sick myself, and in and out of hospital. So I stopped my evening walks and began to spend all my time either at hers or hiding in my room again as I slowly got more sick. This made my depression and anxiety worse to the point I stopped going out again at all.

In the last 4 months I have picked up my fone and begun to get out walking again as I convinced my mate to do the same. She also got a fone to come and play Pokémon with me. So we began walking round in the evening, then we decided to start doing some of the daytime tasks on the game including meeting other players. I noticed my anxiety was still there but having Pokémon to talk about distracted me enough to get into conversations about it.

We met more people to share Pok
émon info and tips with and began to get invites to X raids for a chance to catch legendary Pokémon ... So I started to go and meet random groups to play Pokémon although still feeling anxious .. Playing Pokémon Go gave me a reason to meet up with these random people and a reason to talk, so I slowly gained confidence to the point I'm now out most of my day playing... I’m either walking round town or the lake several times hatching eggs or walking Pokémon or even just chasing cool Pokémon on the near by. 

I'm even trying to get groups of people to come and meet me to help at some of the Pokémon raids and awaiting any one asking for help on the chat. If anyone asks for help I'll try to get wherever the raid is. 

So I've gone from having no confidence and staying indoors all the time to walking round the town for hours on end not wanting to go home some days. I’m meeting lots of new people and re-meeting old ones - all out playing Pokémon. I noticed there's quite a few really anxious players but all eager to come play when they can. 

S is another regular Pokémon Go player locally who has been 
struggling with her mental health. She says: 
“Playing Pokémon Go has literally changed my life.”

Big thanks to Anne Woods who is a Participation Officer in our team but also a very keen player of Pokémon Go. Anne has been playing since the day it started in the UK. She very kindly created the infographics with the Pokémon Go basics for the newbies amongst us...

Friday, 31 August 2018

Powys Patients' Council responds to Smoke-free Premises consultation

John Lilley (PPC volunteer), Owen Griffkin (Participation Officer) & Rhydian Parry (PPC volunteer)

Ever since learning of the Welsh Government's proposal to introduce a ban on smoking in all hospital grounds, Powys Patients' Council has been working hard with current and former patients of the mental health inpatient unit in Powys - Felindre Ward at Bronllys Hospital - to gather feedback. The Council was determined to prepare a formal response to the recent government consultation on the topic. 

Up until now mental health wards have been exempt from the regulations, and designated indoor smoking rooms have been allowed. The new regulations, if agreed, would give hospitals 18 months to close down their indoor provision, and, if appropriate, set up outdoor smoking areas instead. However, as the Council discovered, it is not necessarily straightforward to set up outdoor provision. In the case of Felindre Ward, patients smoking outdoors would require staff supervision due to the nature of the outdoor space. Obviously if already busy nurses have to watch people smoking then they're not able to do much else at the time!

In his Ministerial Forward to the consultation document, Cabinet Social Secretary for Health & Social Services, Vaughan Gething, noted:

"The consultation considers the removal of an exemption that allows designation of a room in which patients and residents of mental health units may smoke and replacing it with a time limited one that would expire 18 months after the new regulations come into force. Smoking prevalence among people with mental illness is substantially higher than the general population and is of great concern. Removing the exemption will bring the law in line with general hospital service users and will aim to address health inequalities for persons with mental heath conditions."

My colleague Owen Griffkin introduced the topic to readers last month when he wrote Powys Patients' Council: Kindles, smoking ban and more. 

Since then he joined PPC volunteers John Lilley and Rhydian Parry to circulate the relevant questions from the consultation to put to current and former patients, along with staff working on the ward. These included:

  1. Do you agree with the proposal to remove the exemption that permits the designation of smoking rooms in mental health units? (Regulation 8) (Please note that the removal of the exemption would not prevent the person in charge of the premises from designating outdoor areas as places where patients can smoke).
  2. Do you agree that the proposed transition period of 18 months after the 2018 Regulations come into force is sufficient time to allow mental health units to implement indoor smoke-free conditions in a safe and secure way? (Regulation 8(6).
Much feedback was gathered, and the Council pulled together a formal response which was submitted by the deadline earlier this month. Owen has now summarised this response for our readers:

Powys Patients’ Council's response to
The Smoke-free Premises & Vehicles (Wales) Regulations 2018 Public Consultation

A consultation was launched in May regarding changes to the Smoke Free premises and Vehicles' Regulations that will affect mental health wards, including the Felindre Ward in Bronllys Hospital. Rhydian and John from the Patients’ Council attended a meeting on the ward with Ward Manager Lisa Hale and Penny Price, Service Manager for Adult Mental Health Services in South Powys,
 to ensure that they had a voice in the hospital’s response to the consultations. The Council also responded themselves by completing the consultation form and we have summed up the main points here.

At the moment, the only option for people on the ward is to smoke indoors in a designated smoking area. These new regulations would end this practice and would force people into refraining from smoking for long periods. Some of the people with lived experience on the ward who smoke also used facilities in England where indoor smoking was banned and they said it was a very difficult time that made recovery more complicated. During a time of great distress it could cause extra stress to have an enforced period of nicotine withdrawal. It’s always possible for other hospital patients to leave their beds and ‘sneak out’ for a cigarette but due to the secure nature of mental health wards this will not be possible for Felindre patients. The Council was also concerned on the effect on staff time, with the staff having to accompany smokers to an unsecured outdoor smoking area.

One of the main barriers to giving up smoking in a mental health unit is that patients do not have enough activities to help keep them occupied. Patients have said that they have wanted to smoke more because of the boredom as it gives them something to do. We urged that there be increased funding specifically for activities on mental health wards.

We also want there to be access to a full range of cessation tools on the ward, including vaping/e-cigs, and for staff to be well trained in cessation techniques so that patients can be fully supported.

The consultation closed on 17 August 2018 so we will keep you informed as to the outcomes and findings.

Powys Patients' Council is facilitated by the Health & Wellbeing team at Powys Association of Voluntary Organisations and aims to give a voice to people staying on inpatient wards in Powys. For more information, please contact Participation Officer Owen Griffkin by emailing owen.griffkin@pavo.org.uk or ringing 01597 822191.

Friday, 17 August 2018

Compassionate Communities

Dr Julian Abel and Dr Helen Kingston
Last month I attended a seminar with colleagues from Powys Teaching Health Board, PAVO’s Community Connectors and our Health & Wellbeing team at Bronllys Hospital in South Powys. It was to learn about a new model of Primary Care working to provide health services. Compassionate Communities is its name and it has been operating in Frome in Somerset successfully for the past 3 years.

Dr Helen Kingston, a Senior Partner at Frome Medical Practice, and Dr Julian Abel, Director of Compassionate Communities UK, were travelling throughout Wales to spread the word. 

In brief, the three key messages, which I took away from the session
  1. People – you, and me, our families and friends (the actual or potential patients or users of the health service), benefit hugely from this way of working. 
  2. People – the ones working to provide the health service, from GPs, nurses and pharmacists – right the way through primary care services – are enthused, reinvigorated and actually enjoying jobs where their actions make much bigger differences to people’s lives. 
  3. Money – is saved. Emergency hospital admissions drop drastically. 
The Compassionate Communities' approach is about joined up or “integrated” working. The focus is on people. The community in Frome appears to have been transformed. It looks like a genuinely supportive network. We all hope (but don’t necessarily expect) that people would rally round if we were struggling to deal with not just our health, the unexpected curve ball life had thrown, or even the mundane challenges of day-to-day life. In Frome it appears to actually happen. People help each other within this system. And, as a result, their health and wellbeing improves. 

Maggie Sims (Regional Partnership Board public representative) and
Andrew Evans (Assistant Director of Primary Care, Powys Teaching Health Board) listening to Julian

The original motivation – Julian tells us more

“We asked - how can we do what’s best for people? It’s common sense that if they are lonely they need support. Friendship. Love. Companionship. That’s what’s needed. Not a tablet.”

Julian described the essentials that are required for this kind of approach – specialist care, generalist care, compassionate communities and civic actions – and how these can affect health and wellbeing in local populations. It was all these components, working together, that led to the dramatic impact in Frome.

It is a whole population intervention – equally as valid to a teenager as a frail elderly person. The teenager might be bullied at school, cyberbullied at home, become depressed and have poor educational outcomes. Drug and alcohol misuse could establish leading to life-long problems. The solution in the context of Compassionate Communities is at school – the civic community, and at home – the community.

It is the union of the new model of primary care and the Compassionate Communities approach which brings about change. But, how you implement change is as important as the change itself. We are used to the permissions effect of top down change. This approach requires the people who do the work to implement change in a systematic way, determined by ground up change.

It is also about looking at people rather than the medical conditions they may have. “If someone is suicidal because of loneliness then their chronic lung disease might not matter to them,” said Julian.

It is about not having treatment rather than having treatment. It is about networks of support. Fifty years ago people would rally round to give extra support – but this response has been lost to some extent in local communities. Yet the resources at our fingertips are enormous, and our natural networks can extend up to five hundred people. So much is going on in communities that may be untapped. It makes sense to use that, to have a profound impact on people’s health and wellbeing, and because this is the focus, almost the unintended consequence is that emergency admissions drop. 

Dr Mary Hughes and Dr Sean O'Reilly from Haygarth Doctors' Practice

The Compassionate Communities approach in a little more detail – Helen tells us more

There are three main components to the model:

  1. Clinical team and GPs. 
  2. Community workers. 
  3. Integration across the Health & Social Care sector. 
Previously staff in Frome worked in separate silos depending on the disease they were treating. They wanted to get back to basing care around what the individual needed – to improve care, and also their working lives. Helen described the anguish staff experience sometimes. A human being in need sits in front of them but they can only focus on just one small part of the story and have to ignore the rest. It is about recognising firstly that life is complicated – separating self-esteem from physical issues is not possible; and secondly that human relationships are powerful and in many instances, the most beneficial in maintaining and achieving health and wellbeing.

First on left: Freda Lacey, Senior Officer Health & Wellbeing Team at PAVO

Setting up a hub in Frome

The hub is the single point of access in the community. Staff - the primary care team (GPs and nurses), work alongside the new Health Connectors (akin to our Community Connectors). Volunteer Community Connectors (akin to Community Champions) are out in the community, they can be post people, the hairdresser, local shop keeper, milk person, taxi drivers, sixth form students, but have a route into liaising with primary care staff at the hub, if this is needed.

So, when people call, it’s not just about discussing medical matters, but also other things that are important to them. “We have turned life’s difficulties into a disease and medicalised everything and then use the medical model to manage it,” explained Helen.

There may be a window of opportunity in a crisis situation. It is about empowering staff to take a different approach. But, also, about meeting people where they are. “There’s no point telling someone about community groups if they have to work up courage to go and buy milk”.

Mentors work with staff to help them change their approach. Stories at team meetings can turn hearts and minds and people begin changing their way of working. Helen suggested finding key people in practices who are enthusiastic to work with initially, so the energy goes with the flow.

Mistakes will be made, but we can learn from them. It is about being creative in our approach.

Suzanne Iuppa, PAVO Community Connector, contributing to the discussion
The voluntary sector

In Frome, the paid Health Connectors (now mainstream, funded for three years) work very closely with an “amazing voluntary sector”. Health Connectors offer one-to-one appointments and do care planning (“they are the glue, but not necessarily the experts”). They recognise that 95% of the support that people need is around them in the community, and link them in. Some people may not be ready to accept help immediately, but Helen’s advice is “have courage and be persistent. They will come back when the time is right for them.” Many of people’s problems are solved outside the medical practice in this model.

Over 400 groups and services are listed in Frome’s electronic healthcare recording system so social prescribing is at their fingertips. When patients are signposted this is coded on to the system. The nature of the conversation changes with this website directory immediately to hand. (In Powys we have the online service directory infoengine, and although it is not currently linked in to the GP electronic system here, we are in discussions about this with a provider of this type of technical service).

Then there are over 600 trained volunteer Community Connectors (Community Champions). These are interested members of the public, whose role is not 1:1 work but to raise awareness of the service. In an ideal world, everyone would be a Community Connector or Champion! Each person signposts on average twenty times a year.

Building community resilience

Other options for people:
  • Talking Cafés – drop-in sessions run by the Health Connectors. Anyone welcome. Signposting to other resources and places to make friends. 
  • Health Connectors’ groups – peer support groups following 1:1 work. 
  • Self-sustaining groups – leg ulcer, diabetes, macular degeneration, stroke support… and many more. 
Helen finished the session with a couple of detailed case studies which brought the Compassionate Community approach to life.

“Most small acts of kindness happen with individuals. It’s building that capacity. It’s about face-to-face relationships, and people caring for each other. About having that conversation that might not have happened.”

What do you think about the Compassionate Communities approach? Here in Powys we already have a lot of the elements of this model in place – we have our Community Connectors’ team, an equally amazing voluntary sector, and the online service directory infoengine. And work is well underway to further integrate systems and teams to do what’s best for people here too.

Once we know how this work progresses we’ll update you in another blog post. Watch this space!

Thursday, 2 August 2018

Start the conversation, it's good to talk / Dechreuwch y sgwrs, mae’n werth ei chael

Farming Connect campaign helps farm businesses 
navigate their way through succession planning

by guest author Elin Jones

In an ideal world, the older generation would discuss their plans for the future of the farm business openly with other members of the family. They would “start the conversation” long before the time when such a discussion becomes essential.

Unfortunately, that is often not the case which has very serious implications for both families and farms in Wales, according to Einir Davies, mentoring and development manager with Menter a Busnes, which delivers Farming Connect on behalf of the Welsh Government.

“The greatest threat to many farm businesses in Wales is lack of a robust succession plan, which is why Farming Connect launched a new succession campaign at the recent Women in Agriculture forum in Bangor on Dee and are committed to making it the topic of conversation around farm kitchen tables this year,” said Einir.

The new campaign, “Start the conversation, it’s good to talk,” comprises a suite of Farming Connect succession planning support services and guidance tools which will help families navigate their way through what are often challenging and unwelcome discussions.

“Businesses which do not plan ahead risk serious consequences for both family and farm, ranging from the falling out of family members and the loss of homes and livelihoods, to adverse financial consequences and the impact to all if the family farm has to be sold, carved up or divided.

“Succession planning will address when and how best to pass on the assets to the next generation which includes preparing them for what lies ahead and passing on responsibility too,” said Einir.

The starting point for those wanting to know when and from whom they should seek advice is to obtain a copy of Farming Connect’s succession planning booklet. This straightforward A4 booklet sets out what support and guidance is available to help families prepare for those all-important discussions which need to take place. It also contains a ‘succession planning toolkit’, providing templates which enable families to discuss and record the facts, opinions and goals of each family member, saving them valuable time ahead of instructing their own professional experts. Collect a copy from your local development officer or from any agricultural show where Farming Connect has a presence.

The new campaign will signpost farming families towards a team of newly appointed ‘succession’ mentors who have joined Farming Connect’s successful fully-funded mentoring programme. Eligible farmers can now apply for up to 22.5 hours of one-to-one confidential and impartial guidance on ‘succession planning’ from a mentor who has relevant experience or knowledge. Browse the online mentor directory, which also includes mentors on a wide range of business and technical topics, including ‘niche’ diversification enterprises and farm safety experts. A filter system will help you identify the mentor with the skills and knowledge you require before applying for the service.

Farming Connect also arranges succession surgeries when eligible farmers can book a fully-funded one-to-one meeting with a specialist rural solicitor. For information on the next round of dates and locations and to book a place, contact your local Farming Connect development officer.

“You will receive a synopsis of your meeting which you can then discuss with your own professional adviser,” said Einir who added that if any families need further assistance with strategic business planning, they can access 80% funding through Farming Connect’s Advisory Service.

Farming Connect is funded by the Welsh Government and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.

Ymgyrch Cyswllt Ffermio yn helpu busnesau
drwy’r broses o gynllunio olyniaeth

Mewn byd delfrydol, byddai’r genhedlaeth hŷn yn trafod eu cynlluniau ar gyfer dyfodol y busnes fferm yn agored gydag aelodau eraill y teulu. Byddent yn “dechrau’r sgwrs” ymhell cyn i drafodaeth o’r fath fod yn angenrheidiol.

Yn anffodus, nid yw hyn yn digwydd bob amser, ac mae hynny’n arwain at oblygiadau difrifol i deuluoedd a ffermydd yng Nghymru, yn ôl Einir Davies, rheolwr mentora a datblygu gyda Menter a Busnes, sy’n darparu Cyswllt Ffermio ar ran Llywodraeth Cymru.

“Y bygythiad mwyaf i nifer o fusnesau fferm yng Nghymru yw diffyg cynllun olyniaeth gadarn, a dyna pam mae Cyswllt Ffermio wedi lansio ymgyrch olyniaeth newydd yn ystod fforwm Merched mewn Amaeth yn ddiweddar ym Mangor Is-Coed ac wedi ymrwymo i sicrhau ei fod yn bwnc trafod o amgylch bwrdd y gegin eleni,” meddai Einir.

Mae’r ymgyrch newydd, “Dechreuwch y Sgwrs, mae’n werth ei chael” yn cynnwys cyfres o wasanaethau cefnogi a chanllawiau ar gyfer cynllunio olyniaeth a fydd yn cynorthwyo teuluoedd i ganfod ffordd o gynnal trafodaethau sy’n aml yn heriol ac yn anodd.

“Mae busnesau nad ydynt yn cynllunio ymlaen llaw mewn perygl o wynebu goblygiadau difrifol iawn ar gyfer y teulu a’r fferm gan amrywio o anghydfod teuluol a cholli cartrefi a bywoliaeth i sefyllfeydd ariannol anffafriol a’r effaith ar bawb pe byddai angen gwerthu, chwalu neu rannu’r fferm deuluol.

“Bydd cynllunio olyniaeth yn mynd i’r afael â sut a phryd y dylid trosglwyddo asedau i’r genhedlaeth nesaf, gan gynnwys eu paratoi ar gyfer y dyfodol a throsglwyddo cyfrifoldeb hefyd,” meddai Einir.

Cam cyntaf ar gyfer y rhai sydd eisiau gwybod pryd y dylent ofyn am gyngor a chan bwy yw derbyn copi o lyfryn cynllunio olyniaeth Cyswllt Ffermio. Mae’r llyfryn A4 hwn yn hawdd i’w ddefnyddio, ac mae’n amlinellu’r gefnogaeth a’r arweiniad sydd ar gael i helpu teuluoedd baratoi ar gyfer y trafodaethau pwysig sydd angen eu cynnal. Mae hefyd yn cynnwys ‘pecyn adnoddau cynllunio olyniaeth’ sy’n darparu templedi sy’n galluogi ffermwyr i drafod a chofnodi’r ffeithiau, barn a nodau pob aelod o’r teulu, gan arbed amser gwerthfawr cyn cysylltu â’u harbenigwyr proffesiynol eu hunain. Gallwch gael copi gan eich swyddog datblygu lleol neu o unrhyw sioe amaethyddol ble bydd Cyswllt Ffermio yn bresennol.

Bydd yr ymgyrch newydd yn cyfeirio teuluoedd fferm at dîm o fentoriaid ‘olyniaeth’ sydd newydd eu penodi i ymuno â rhaglen fentora lwyddiannus Cyswllt Ffermio sydd wedi’i hariannu’n llawn. Gall ffermwyr cymwys ymgeisio am hyd at 22.5 awr o gyngor annibynnol, diduedd a chyfrinachol wedi’i ariannu’n llawn gan fentor sydd â phrofiad perthnasol neu ddealltwriaeth o gynllunio olyniaeth. Ewch i www.llyw.cymru/cyswlltffermio i edrych ar y cyfeirlyfr mentora ar lein, sydd hefyd yn cynnwys mentoriaid gyda phrofiad mewn nifer o feysydd busnes a thechnegol, gan gynnwys mentrau arallgyfeirio arbenigol, ynghyd ag arbenigwyr diogelwch fferm. Bydd system hidlo yn eich cynorthwyo i ganfod y mentro gyda’r sgiliau a’r wybodaeth sydd arnoch ei angen cyn ymgeisio ar gyfer y gwasanaeth.

Mae Cyswllt Ffermio hefyd yn trefnu cymorthfeydd olyniaeth ble gall ffermwyr cymwys drefnu cyfarfod un i un wedi’i ariannu’n llawn gyda chyfreithiwr amaethyddol arbenigol. Am fanylion y rownd nesaf o ddyddiadau a lleoliadau ac i archebu lle, cysylltwch â’ch swyddog datblygu Cyswllt Ffermio lleol.

Byddwch yn derbyn crynodeb o’ch cyfarfod, ac yna gallwch drafod gyda’ch cynghorydd proffesiynol eich hun,” meddai Einir, ac ychwanegodd y gall unrhyw deuluoedd sydd angen cefnogaeth bellach gyda chynllunio busnes strategol, gallant dderbyn cyllid o hyd at 80% trwy Wasanaeth Cynghori Cyswllt Ffermio.

Ariennir Cyswllt Ffermio gan Lywodraeth Cymru a Chronfa Amaethyddol Ewrop ar gyfer Datblygu Gwledig.

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

KiVa anti-bullying programme in Powys schools

This week’s guest post is from Dr Sue Evans, a Consultant Child Psychologist working as the Lead for Parenting and Children's Social Competence Programmes at Powys Teaching Health Board. Sue has been leading on work to introduce the KiVa anti-bullying scheme to schools across Powys over the past couple of years. I caught up with her lately to find out more about how it’s going.

What is your role as a Consultant Child Psychologist?

My role is very much about working with agencies and schools across Powys, and also across Wales in using evidence based approaches which promote children’s emotional health and well being and social competence. This involves working with parents, teachers and children using complimentary approaches. I feel very privileged to have been able to train staff from a whole range of agencies in evidence based approaches. I have focussed particularly on the Incredible Years® programme but since 2014 my role has also included rolling out and researching the KiVa anti-bullying programme.

I am also an honorary lecturer at Bangor University and through this post have been involved in supporting training and research across Wales.

How can childhood bullying impact on people, not only at the time but also later in life?

Sadly there is a good deal of evidence about the potential negative impact of bullying both in childhood and on into adulthood. Children who have been bullied may experience anxiety, depression, and loneliness and they may not do as well as they could do academically. There are risks into adulthood for depression, low self-esteem & difficulty sustaining relationships. Children who bully others are at risk of criminal offending in adulthood and may learn to use aggression as a means to get what they want. Children who are both bullies and victims carry the highest risk factors. 

Tell us about KiVa. What is it, and how did you find out about it?

I found out about KiVa through my work at Bangor University. Kiva was developed and researched in Finland, it has a lot of robust research evidence of its effectiveness. It was great to have the opportunity to train as a KiVa trainer in Finland in 2014. After successfully piloting the programme in 2014 with 10 schools we made a decision to offer it to all primary and special schools in Powys through a rolling programme of training,

KiVa includes:

Actions for all in the form of:

  • A classroom curriculum for Key Stage Two (pupils aged 7 – 11 years). 
  • Whole school assemblies, posters and other material to remind pupils that the school is a KiVa school. 
  • Online resources for teachers. 
  • Online resources for parents. 
  • Online resources for children, including KiVa games, to help pupils build strong and supportive relationships with each other and learn how to deal with bullying. 
  • An annual online survey to measure bullying and well being. Pupils complete the survey anonymously online and the University of Turku provide feedback. 
There is also a structured procedure for schools to use if a case of bullying occurs.

Watch this ITV Wales news item which explains the KiVa approach in Powys. 

Why did you want to bring the KiVa anti-bullying scheme to Powys schools?

KiVa is predominantly a personal social education programme for creating a safe and happy school. It is important to understand that schools don’t have to have a specific problem with bullying to introduce KiVa. All schools in Wales are required to have a policy for dealing with bullying and KiVa is one of the best evidence based programmes for tackling bullying. 

What training do staff and pupils undertake to use the KiVa approach?

KiVa should be used as a whole school approach. The first stage is to train senior school staff, usually the head teacher and another member of the school KiVa team. This training takes place over two days and staff who attend the training are given materials to train their whole school staff and ideas and materials for introducing the programme to parents and children. It’s really a cascade model of training with head teachers being responsible for introducing KiVa to their school.

A multi-agency model is used; I provide training on behalf of Powys Teaching Health Board, funding for the training and equipment needed is provided through the Children and Young People’s Partnership and schools implement the programme themselves and pay a registration fee to access the online resources.

Which schools have already signed up to KiVa so far and how is it working for them?

Since 2014 we have trained 50 schools in Powys. This includes all three special schools and 47 primary schools from across the county. Schools are at different stages with KiVa, some have been delivering for three years, and others have been delivering KiVa for one or two years.

The feedback we have had from schools has been very positive. Teachers really like delivering KiVa and most pupils really enjoy it. Head teachers tell us that KiVa is making a real difference in creating a safe and happy school environment. Teachers also tell us that they feel more confident in dealing with bullying when it occurs.

The general feedback from schools has been excellent but we have also got good evidence from research we have carried out. We have a clinical doctoral student researching KiVa outcomes in Powys and she has found significant reductions in pupil reports of bullying for KiVa schools. The great news is that we have found significant effects after just one year, but bullying continues to reduce year on year for schools who continue to use KiVa. 

What has been the most challenging aspect of rolling out the KiVa programme?

The main challenge has been keeping KiVa alive in schools who have trained. Inevitably key staff members change in some schools and we have needed to provide retraining for some schools to ensure continuity.

We know that KiVa works if it is delivered in the way it was intended, so this is the challenge for all schools.

Tell us about some of the most rewarding work you have done with KiVa so far

It has been very rewarding to have great feedback from children and teachers about the impact of KiVa. Here are some of the comments:

“It complements our whole school values and behaviour programme brilliantly, permeating everything we do, and has been embraced by children, staff and parents alike.”

"We initially introduced the programme to the staff to help them to understand what it would be like to be bullied. It enabled them to see the benefit of working together as a team to develop a positive behavioural approach and to develop a culture of anti-bullying. This was cascaded to pupils through a whole school assembly then through in-class KiVa activities which immediately captured the children’s ability to empathise with others. A parents open evening followed in order to give parents the opportunity to understand this approach."

Children now feel empowered to deal with a range of social situations:

“KiVa has made us happy.”

“KiVa has brought us together.”

“It has helped me get along with others, in my old school others were hurting me.”

“It has helped me get new friends.”

“There is no calling names now.”

“We have learnt to recognise what bullying is and how to stop it.” 

Many thanks to Sue for telling us all about the KiVa anti-bullying scheme in Powys. If you would like to contact her, please email: Sue.Evans5@wales.nhs.uk