On Friday 20 May, Francis House staff and residents welcomed MP Andrew Mitchell through the residential care home’s doors.
The visit marked a celebration of Lisieux Trust’s fantastic achievement, whereby the care organisation was presented with The Employer Award at the 2021 Learning Disabilities and Autism Awards.
MP Mitchell made the visit to learn more about Lisieux Trust and how the award came about. In fact, he admitted quite early on into his visit that this was not his first encounter with the charity.
He said: “I learnt about Lisieux Trust quite early on after being elected as MP. I visited shortly after I was elected, which was around 20 years ago.”
As part of the national accolade, Lisieux Trust was recognised for its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Commenting on this, Mary Heap, Registered Manager at Francis House, told MP Mitchell: “We did amazing in the pandemic. We did have some Covid cases across the organisation, but we handled it well, and received lots of support from Head Office. We were very lucky.”
Lisieux Trust further impressed the MP by showcasing its commitment to residents’ and tenants’ safety. When asked why employees continued to wear masks in the property, MP Mitchell was advised that Lisieux Trust teams would be continuing to wear PPE for the foreseeable future, based on guidance provided by the Government.
In response to this, MP Mitchell commented: “It’s a good reminder that you’re taking Covid seriously!”
Mr Mitchell further went on to celebrate the award achievement. Speaking of the award win, he said: “It’s a good feather in the cap!”
As well as this, MP Andrew Mitchell was keen to learn of the charity’s upcoming plans, and gain an understanding of how Sutton Coldfield could improve to better the lives of Lisieux Trust’s residents and tenants.
John Gillon, Deputy Manager at Francis House, used the opportunity to discuss the limited opportunities for learning-disabled adults in the Sutton Coldfield area.
He said: “There used to be an Adult Education Centre local to Francis House. This has now gone, and it hasn’t been replaced; it means our residents have lost placements. As a result, there is a real struggle to find meaningful placements for our people.”
Adding to this, Jess Alsop-Greenacre, CEO at Lisieux Trust, raised concerns over housing in the area. She advised that the recently introduced Article 4 Direction means that it has become increasingly difficult to secure more properties for care use in Sutton Coldfield.
Commenting on this, she said: “Housing is a real issue in Sutton Coldfield. The introduction of Article 4 has affected us, as we’re being told that Sutton Coldfield’s priority is family housing. This, of course, is not the type of housing we provide.
“A safe location is important to us, and Sutton Coldfield provides that, which makes the area ideal. Sadly, planning permissions means that we are experiencing great difficulty in accessing more properties in the area, which is hugely disappointing.”
For Francis House resident, MC, MP Mitchell’s visit was an opportunity to gain some advice on pursuing a career in politics.
MC is an avid Conservative supporter, and regularly facilitates the party’s local canvassing efforts.
He was keen to ask MP Mitchell how he could secure a role in the political world, and whether there were any particular courses to pursue.
Advising on this, MP Mitchell said: “You don’t need qualifications. All of life is politics. Academic courses are usually about political history. Politics should draw in people from all walks of life.”
Mr Mitchell then went on to query what MC would implement, should he become Prime Minister.
With a keen interest in mental health, MC admitted that he would aim to improve mental health services in the country, which was met with support from the politician.
After imparting further wisdom, MP Mitchell was offered a tour of Francis House by resident, EB, before being directed to the kitchen where a buffet had been prepared by employees.
While here, MP Mitchell learnt that Francis House residents are regularly involved in preparing meals for each other, and make a daily habit of eating as a household.
The MP also used this time to find out more about Lisieux Trust’s CEO, Jess Alsop-Greenacre; taking particular interest in how she manages her time as leader of an 11 property organisation.
Through this, MP Mitchell learnt that Jess operates from Lisieux Trust’s Head Office on a daily basis, but visits at least one service a week.
She further advised that Lisieux Trust’s Head of Operations, Alison O’Meara, makes regular trips to each of the organisation’s services throughout the week.
Having learnt all there is to know about Lisieux Trust, MP Mitchell invited residents and staff to the front of Francis House, where he coordinated a photograph.
Residents then sent the MP on his way, with a homemade cupcake in tow.
Bidding farewell, resident MC took the opportunity to declare: “I look forward to working for you!”
On 21 September, Lisieux Trust held a Pride Tea party at its head office, which proved to be a roaring success amongst attendees.
Lisieux Trust loves to host different social events, particularly after many months of not being able to do so.
Going forward, Lisieux Trust is committed to holding a social event each month; either at the Lisieux Trust Head Office or a specialist venue to allow all of our residents, tenants and employees to experience a sense of community.
Other recent events include a disco and a Halloween themed karaoke ‘Fright Night’.
So, to coincide with Birmingham Pride which took place over the weekend of 25 and 26 September, CEO Jess Alsop-Greenacre felt it appropriate for us to host our very own pride event.
After all, Lisieux Trust is all about being welcoming and celebrating diversity.
Head Office was suitably decorated with rainbow flags everywhere.
Our people are at the heart of the Trust and we are always willing to listen to ideas from all quarters on how to improve the service provided.
So, it was great to have a couple of our residents and tenants involved in the creation of the pride event.
The party was tenant HH’s idea, and Francis House resident EB helped to design the flyer for the event which helped greatly in attracting people.
Jess Alsop-Greenacre said: “It was an idea we’ve had for a while, and now just felt like the right time for it. We have never celebrated Pride before as an organization, and now it will be an annual event.
“We want to hold inclusive events here at the Trust as it is what we are all about. And, it is a good excuse for a party, isn’t it?”
Well, party our people did.
Everyone had a good time, eating plenty of rainbow cake, posing for photos in the photobooth, and fashioning lots of temporary tattoos.
HH, who was the brainchild behind the party, said, “I really liked the idea. Everyone should be proud of who they are.
“I really liked the photobooth- it meant I could show off my tattoos.”
Unfortunately, for covid reasons, Jess felt it wasn’t right to go for one of the more typical aspects of celebrating pride; namely face painting.
However, the alternative of the tattoos went down an absolute treat.
The tattoos were pride themed with hearts and rainbows a plenty.
One of the Trust’s support workers, Donna Edwards, was integral in ensuring all who wanted tattoos managed to get them on.
Reflecting on the event, Jess said: “The main message was for everyone to be themselves – whoever they are – and be comfortable at work or whether they’re being supported by us.
“Overall, difference and diversity make us stronger.”
Employer of the year, anybody?
That’s right – Lisieux Trust is proud to have been recognised as Employer of the Year at the National Learning Disabilities and Autism Awards, which took place on Friday 29 October.
The last 18 months have been exceptionally trying for all, and as an organisation we have put all of our very best efforts into maintaining the safety and wellbeing of all of our people.
We believe it is this unwavering commitment that has led to us being recognised with such a highly acclaimed title at the National Learning Disabilities & Autism Awards.
The Awards celebrate excellence in the support for people with learning disabilities, and aim to pay tribute to those individuals or organisations who excel in providing quality care.
With this in mind, we can not celebrate this award without acknowledging our incredible staff team, who have powered through admirably during such a challenging period of their career.
We’re incredibly grateful to have a strong team who we could rely on to help cultivate a culture of care and fulfilment for residents and tenants.
In their verdict, the award judges said: “The team representing the Lisieux Trust demonstrated a passion for their work force and tenant group, that was palpable.
“They gave numerous examples of enhanced support to staff during the last year and throughout the pandemic.
“They have utilised creative resources to provide online activities to tenants, providing and changing their approaches to management and support, and meet the needs of staff and tenants.
“Their articulated effective team working, and approaches were inspiring!”
It’s true – we definitely saw some great creativity with the approach to caring for our residents and tenants throughout the pandemic, which had been implemented from all levels of the organisation.
For instance, during the various lockdowns, online activities were introduced for our residents and tenants to stay active and engaged during a difficult time.
Not only this but our staff teams ensured there were plenty of activities to get involved with, to ensure our people were constantly occupied.
We were incredibly impressed by the efforts of all of our team, and the passion and appreciation apparently shone through during our shortlisting interview.
The judges were also impressed with the enhanced benefits package we afford to our teams.
Last year, acknowledging the declining mental health of our team, we made the decision to provide all our team with access to a specialist health plan scheme.
This was brought in place to allow employees to claim back the cost of health-related expenses and receive up to six face-to-face counselling sessions.
Employees have also been in receipt of treats, vouchers, and a one-off bonus, by way of senior managers displaying their appreciation during the challenging times.
All of these factors contributed towards the decision for Lisieux Trust to be recognised as Employer of the Year.
Jess Alsop-Greenacre, CEO of Lisieux Trust, was ecstatic at the news of the award win.
She said: “At a time where the morale within the care sector is at an all-time low, I am so proud that our team is being recognised for our tremendous work and efforts.
“Over the course of the last 18 months, nurturing a positive workforce has been crucial and, as such, our senior management team have explored many avenues to ensure our team feel supported and appreciated.
“We’re exceptionally proud to have this commitment recognised on a national level.
“We had a fabulous night at the award ceremony. It was a great chance for some of our team to celebrate after the gloom of the last two years!
“In all, I am so, so proud!”
Nine members of the Lisieux Trust community were invited to attend the awards ceremony, which took place at The ICC in Birmingham.
CEO Jess Alsop-Greenacre, Chairman Kevin Nagle, Director Helen Shields, Head of HR & Admin Joanne Bongiovi, Registered Managers Denise Barrett and Brendan Griffith, and Support Workers Rich Hall, Naz Halil, and Pat Smith all represented the organisation at the event.
They were treated to a three course meal, and danced the night away.
The group say it was a great opportunity to be amongst others within the sector, and all agreed that it was a brilliant night.
Overall, we’re incredibly proud of the award win.
We’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has supported us and represented us as an organisation.
It’s certainly a fantastic time to be a part of the Lisieux Trust community!
On Thursday 16th September, 26 employees from The Co-Operative Bank visited Lisieux Trust to get stuck into some volunteering, giving our garden a much-needed revamp.
The volunteers very kindly gifted the Trust with a greenhouse, ensuring that even with the colder, damper weather, our residents and tenants can continue to partake in gardening club.
The new addition will aid in enabling residents and tenants to obtain new gardening skills, and strengthen relationships with others along the way.
With excitement about the garden project growing throughout Lisieux Trust, interest in the Gardening Club has soared, with new tenants keen to join.
On top of the greenhouse, the volunteers put in some hard graft to improve our garden in a plethora of ways, including fences being creosoted, our pergola and hand rails receiving a lick of paint, and bushes being pruned. With the pergola area having had a base coat of paint, it is now up to the Gardening Club to decide which colour the area is to receive its final coat in.
All being well, the pergola area will be used as a nice spot to relax and take in the view and summer rays, come the better weather.
At the heart of Lisieux Trust’s Gardening Club is our very own Gardener/Groundsman, Keith Latham, who said: “The hard work of the volunteers has helped us to make so much progress in just one day. It’s very much appreciated, and it really means a lot to us all.”
The volunteering day came about as a result of our strong relationship with The Co-operative Bank, which has lasted for over a decade. As a part of The Co-Op Bank’s commitment to CSR, each year, a Co-op Bank Relationship Manager will nominate a client to benefit from a volunteering day.
This isn’t the first time that we have greatly benefitted from being selected as part of the initiative. In 2012, we had a team of 12 who kindly decorated one of our supported living properties.
Lisiuex Trust was again nominated in 2020 but was delayed because of the pandemic.
It was our Head of Finance, Carole Aston, who organised the event and was very pleased with how the event panned out.
She said: “The Improvements that have been made are beyond what we had hoped for. All the volunteers really enjoyed supporting Lisieux Trust, and are always eager to return.
“We’d like to say a huge thank you to all The Co-Operative Bank volunteers for their time and effort. We really appreciate being chosen for another volunteering day.
“I’d like to say a special thank you to Adam Burke for twice nominating Lisieux Trust, and Gill Berry for organising the day.”
To ensure you’re always up to date on our garden, follow us on our social media pages and look out for #LisieuxTrustGardenProject for weekly updates on the progress we are making.
We’re very proud to announce that one of our tenants, Jo, has won gold in a ski competition.
On Sunday 12th September, Jo was involved in a competition at The Brentwood Centre in Bromley. She competed as a part of the West Midlands Ski Group, of which she has been a part of for many years.
Despite having won not one, but two medals in the competition, Jo already is showing her winning mentality by being laser focused on the next competition.
She said: “I was really happy with my performance. It will be good practice for the World Games in 2023.”
Here, she will be representing the West Midlands in the Special Olympics World Winter Games, which will be available to watch on ESPN.
Like many things over the last 18 months, the Winter Games was postponed due to the pandemic, with it being pushed back to January 2023, having originally been scheduled for the previous year.
Taking place In Kazan, Russia, the games will see 2,000 athletes from over 100 nations gather to create acceptance and inclusion through sport, volunteerism, education and health.
This wasn’t Jo’s first successful competitive outing, having finished in the top 3 in the Nationals. The last national competition was in Switzerland, before the pandemic, whereby Jo was in the opening ceremony.
Jo delved into what first piqued her interest in the sport, with her mom booking a private lesson for the future champ at the Snowdome in Tamworth.
She was Instantly gripped by the setting, saying: “I loved the scenery. The scenery was fantastic- it was like the picture of a Christmas card.”
Eddie the Eagle was there as well, which did help massively in capturing Jo’s imagination.
As with any great athlete, Jo had some advice to inspire the next generation, saying anybody who is interested should: “train and go to competitions. If you do well, you can achieve like me. It’s a really good sport to join.”
Discussing the necessary grit and determination to improve in her sport, she spoke of her initial difficulties: “When I first joined the Special Olympics – a long time ago – I found it hard but I got used to it. I’m in the intermediates group now.”
Congrats Jo, and good luck for 2023. We know you’ll do us proud!
We are extremely proud to announce that Lisieux Trust resident, Janet, has completed a Marathon!
Starting on 1 June 2021, Janet committed to pacing steps towards the 26.2 mile mark around her Care Home. With Janet’s disability reducing her mobility, she made the decision to complete the course in small daily stints.
With Janet’s mobility in mind, the challenge was gruelling for Janet, but each day she woke up, determined to reach her goal.
On 30 June 201, Janet took her final step over the finishing line; cheered on by her Support Workers and fellow residents.
Janet had dreamed of completing a Marathon for a very long time. She brought the idea to her Key Worker, Emma McEvilly, who helped Janet to come up with a plan to achieve this goal.
Both understood that the achievement wouldn’t come without its challenges, but they were driven by Janet’s unwavering motivation to make her Mum proud.
Janet completed the marathon for her Mother, who has Dementia. She took on the challenge to raise funds for Alzheimer’s Society; a cause very close to her heart.
Janet had hoped to raise £500 for the charity. However, touching many with her story and commitment, she has so far managed to raise a huge £1,065.
To celebrate her fantastic achievement, Janet was awarded a certificate and medal from the Lisieux Trust team. Alzheimer’s Society further gifted Janet with two t-shirts and a medal for her support, which Janet has loved wearing.
It is hoped that in the coming weeks, the achievement will be properly celebrated with a garden party within Lisieux Trust.
Speaking of her achievement, Janet said: “I am really proud of myself. I’ve always wanted to do a Marathon. Now, I’m thinking about what to do next!”
To contribute to Janet’s fundraiser, please visit: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/janet-wakeham
A parent from within the Lisieux Trust community has completed a Captain Tom Challenge to raise funds for Lisieux Trust.
Bob Bright, father of a Lisieux Trust tenant, committed to fundraising by taking on a golf challenge.
He set out to chip 100 golf balls into a bucket from 10 metres away, and invited sponsors to guess how long it would take for him to achieve this goal.
The inspiration came after Bob had seen a TV clip of Captain Tom’s daughter, welcoming Brits to take part in a fundraising challenge. He saw this as an opportunity to support the organisation looking after his son.
Having experienced some hiccups during his training, peers appeared to show little faith in Bob’s abilities.
He said: “I found straight away that any balls that went into the bucket bounced straight out.
“I sent out mails to friends, relatives, and to many playing colleagues at Wishaw Golf Club. The response was great; although some had very little faith in my chipping ability.
“Time predictions varied from two hours and 48 minutes, through to 18 hours and 46 minutes.”
Wanting to perfect his swing, Bob sought support from a golf professional.
Bob said: “I have golf lessons at Lea Marston. Ben Challis changed my chipping technique and this improved my success rate enormously.”
On Saturday 1 May at 1000 hours, Bob started his challenge.
He said: “My better-half, Helen, had gone shopping and when she got back, she looked in the bucket and reckoned there was 100 in the bucket already.
“I stopped the clock and we started counting.
“There were 110 balls in the bucket!”
Despite predictions from his peers expecting a lengthy battle, Bob managed to complete his feat in just one hour and 40 minutes.
Thanks to Bob’s fantastic efforts, he managed to raise £500 for Lisieux Trust, which has been gratefully received. It is expected to be used towards an exciting activity for Lisieux Trust residents and tenants.
To find out more about how you can donate to Lisieux Trust, please visit www.lisieuxtrust.org.uk/donate. For more information on fundraising for us, head to www.lisieuxtrust.org.uk/fundraising.
Following months of restrictions, it is with great delight that we were able to recommence Lisieux Trust’s Gardening Club this month.
The Club – which convenes weekly on a Friday – is responsible for the ongoing transformation of the Head Office garden, which has seen the previously untouched land being turned into a fruitful allotment.
This year, the project will centre around converting an old pram shed into a beautiful, cosy pergola. It is expected to be enjoyed by residents, tenants, employees, and visitors during the summer sunshine.
The garden project began in June 2020, but as a result of the series of lockdown measures implemented across the country, activities were forced to a halt in October 2020.
Speaking of the decision to reinstate the club, Keith Latham, Groundsman and session leader, said: “It has been fantastic seeing the guys on a Friday again. The response has been positive overall, with everyone having fun, working together on the project.
“It’s great that the guys are outdoors again; it has brought back a sense of normality after spending a lot of time stuck at home.”
With some regular day activities and classes still yet to resume, the reinstatement of the Club has been met positively among our learning disabled and autistic community. For those who have been shielding for much of the year, the Garden Project has acted as a first move towards resuming an essence of routine and normality.
Updates on the progress of our Garden Project can be seen online, with regular photos being uploaded onto Lisieux Trust’s Facebook and Instagram pages.
We are delighted to share the news that all Lisieux Trust residents and tenants have now received at least the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.
On Thursday 15 April, JN, a tenant within our supported living projects, was the last of our people to receive their jab. He was supported by Registered Manager, John Gillon, to attend his appointment in Sutton Coldfield, making him the final service user within the organisation to receive the Covid-19 vaccine.
Speaking of his experience, JN said: “I feel good, and I am happy.”
The roll out of vaccinations within Lisieux Trust began on 9 January 2021, marking a 15-week timeframe from the first individual being vaccinated, until the last.
Until March 2021, autistic individuals, and individuals with a learning disability, were not considered a priority for the Covid vaccine; despite data suggesting that they were at greater risk of becoming seriously ill with the virus. Following a widespread appeal to the Government, with Radio presenter Jo Wiley providing a high-profile face alongside the cause, the learning-disabled and autistic communities’ positions were reviewed.
Subsequently, autistic people and people with a learning disability were urged to come forward for the vaccination as soon as possible.
Although fears have mounted over the possible side effects of the Covid-19 vaccine, we’re happy to report that Lisieux Trust residents and tenants have responded well to the jab; with no serious aftereffects having been presented.
Commenting on her experience, resident, MCo, said: “It is the only jab that I have had that did not hurt. I hope I can go back to Ebrook soon, as I have had two jabs.”
With lockdown restrictions having eased further on 12 April, more Lisieux Trust residents and tenants now feel empowered to return to their usual activities and placements. Day centres, such as Ebrook Resource Centre, are expected to reopen their doors to welcome back people with a learning disability or autism in and around Sutton Coldfield.
Following a year of grave uncertainty, and change in routine, this prospect has been met with excitement from residents, tenants, and employees alike.
Commenting on the news, Jess Alsop-Greenacre, CEO of Lisieux Trust, said: “I am absolutely thrilled that all of our tenants and residents have now received at least the first of the two COVID-19 vaccinations. This is instrumental in helping to ensure that they stay safe and well during this pandemic.
“I have been so impressed by the commitment and bravery shown by residents and tenants during this process; especially from those who find injections daunting.”
To keep up to date with the fantastic things residents and tenants are getting up to, please follow Lisieux Trust on social media. We’re on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.
This month, we welcomed David Gill to our management team. He has joined the organisation as Deputy Manager, and will be supporting Mary Heap at our Francis House residential care home. We caught up with David to find out a bit more about him and what he hopes to achieve with us.
Welcome to Lisieux Trust, David! What does your new role entail?
I will be supporting residents, and the day-to-day running of Francis House.
Where have you joined Lisieux Trust from?
Before joining Lisieux Trust, I had been working for Precious Homes as a Team Leader.
Do you have any industry awards/certifications?
Yes – I was nominated for an award at the Great British Care Awards.
How did you first get involved with the learning disabilities and autism sector?
I found a job opportunity as a Support Worker whilst looking for something I could do that was important. I wanted a role somewhere I could potentially make a difference and do some good.
What do you like most about working in the care industry?
It is an honour. Some people in the industry are inspirational. They’re heroes.
What was your first impression of Lisieux Trust?
Everyone is very friendly! I feel as though I have found a company whose ideals match with mine.
I get the impression Lisieux Trust is serious about the care provided and the way employees are treated.
What has surprised you most about working with Lisieux Trust so far?
Everyone seems to know everyone!
What are you enjoying most about being at Lisieux Trust so far?
The staff are very knowledgeable and excellent at what they do.
What are some exciting plans you’ve got in the pipeline?
I love activity planning and I hope to open the people we support up to new experiences. I especially want to encourage our residents to stay active during this pandemic, which is an exciting challenge.
If you could give residents and tenants any piece of advice, what would it be?
Get yourself out there – there’s a lot of beautiful things in the world to see and experience, and nothing should hold any of us back from those things.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I enjoy watching football, playing video games, walking, listening to music, going to gigs, and travelling.
What football team do you support?
Aston Villa UTV!
What is on your bucket list?
I’d really like to do a tour of Europe.