MP Andrew Mitchell visits Francis House
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!”