Catherine House, Celebrating Culture and Finding Your Way conference

21 October 2015   Add comments

I visited 13 services last week and was particularly impressed by our new Catherine House service in Camberley. It was only opened in the summer and it already has an established and enthusiastic staff team, led by their dedicated and hard working manager, Sonia. They have developed a strong ethos on promoting independence and social inclusion for the young people that they support and are doing some great work teaching people basic cooking skills including the importance of healthy eating and are actively supporting them to participate in a range of activities in the community. For example they are currently supporting a young man to apply to do voluntary work at his local radio station. It is also clear that the tenants are actively supported to help shape the way the service is run and that their views are important. I was impressed with the accessible minutes of their regular tenants’ meetings, which demonstrate people’s active involvement.

We had our annual Celebrating Culture event on Thursday last week (formerly known as Black History Celebrations). It was a fantastic event which was kindly opened by the Lady Mayor of Croydon. We had a fabulous turn out of around 400 people we support and staff and the large room at Fairfield Halls in Croydon was decorated with flags from around the world, all made by people we support. There were a whole range of fun events and activities including a marvellous Asian drumming and dance group. It was great to see a number of people we support spontaneously get up and participate in the dancing. I would also like to say a big thank you to Onyi Ogueri and his team who planned the event so well and to all of the staff and people we support who went to a huge effort to cook absolutely fabulous food from all around the world.

We are really looking forward to the conference we are co-hosting with Bringing Us Together on Saturday 30th January 2016 at Imber Court Sports and Social Club in Surrey. The programme for this Conference we are calling ‘Finding Your Way’ has now been finalised and there is a fantastic combination of external keynote speakers along with a number of relevant workshops. The conference is aimed at any family of a disabled young person, to help them to better understand the maze that is the social care system and help them build skills to ensure they and their family member have ‘choice and control’. If you would like to see a copy of the programme, or buy a ticket, please contact

One of the workshops on the day is going to be about Positive Behaviour Support and will be facilitated by our Clinical Director, Michael Fullerton. Positive Behaviour Support is an approach we use a lot in CMG to help people who present challenging behaviour so that they don’t need to be challenging in order to get their needs met. We see challenging behaviour as a form of communication with a number of potential functions, for example, to get attention, or to avoid too many demands. By looking at incidents and their patterns, we can work out what is causing someone’s behaviour and help the staff team put a strategy in place so that the individual doesn’t feel the need to be challenging because their needs are understood and met. For example we would want to make sure they had a busy, structured programme of activity with staff giving positive re-enforcement, for example, saying ‘well done that was really good’ when they engage positively in an activity. Michael will cover the basic principles of positive behaviour support and also what to look out for when looking for a provider.

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