We’ve had a very busy month at Support at the Cavern. From welcoming new staff and service users alike, to copious games of Rummikub, Dominos and everything in-between! Sometimes it’s good to sit back and remember that Support isn’t always just conversing with our fantastic team, it can also be a stepping stone towards meeting friends who can support each other outside of our service. We’ve seen new friendships form this month, even with those who sometimes may be more reserved or enjoy spending time independently. We’ve also seen some really positive new relationships forming between our new staff members and service users!

We have of course still been working with other services within the community to ensure that our service users are getting signposted to get the help/support they require, whilst our leads have had visits from the complex emotional needs team to think about how we can focus on self care and how we can model this within our team. Self care is so important for both staff and service users and we hope to carry this theme through with us into support over the coming months. 

Support at The Cavern is open from 6pm-11pm, 365 days a year at 56 Westgate Street, Gloucester City Centre. If you would like further information, please contact our Support at the Cavern Lead, Pam Evans at [email protected]

So what is The Anchor Programme? 

The Anchor is a small team of trainers who work with individuals with complex emotional needs, whom we call trainees, over a period of about a year. Much of our programme is centred around working on goals identified by the trainee, helping that person become the best version of themselves. Often a new trainee is unsure about their goals to start with, but that doesn’t matter, we can help them discover their goals as we go along. What is important is that they are at a stage in their life where they want to make some changes, and are willing to work with their trainers to make these happen. 

Once a trainee has started on the programme and built up a level of trust with their trainers, we aim to work with them for around 10 hours a week for 5-6 months. Then, as we look towards the end of the programme, we taper down our contact hours, giving the trainee the opportunity to find out how they will do the things they have learned when the programme ends. 

What makes the programme successful is that it is highly person centred, and it is often the “soft” skills that they learn along the way that are most impactful: decision making; keeping appointments; getting used to new places; or learning to say “no” are just some examples. Learning to trust the trainers, and discovering some hope for the future can also be powerful motivators for trainees as they go through the year. 

We are funded by the NHS, so there is a referral process: a mental health worker makes a referral in collaboration with the individual; all referrals go to the monthly Anchor Panel, who check that someone is suitable, or will signpost to other services if not. The referral form can be found on the Anchor page of theTreasure Seekers website here

Here’s a recent comment from a trainee who is about to finish the programme:

“Anchor has been the best thing I have ever done in my life and has drastically changed it for the better. I’m now in a position in my life where I have hope and not only can see a future for myself I’m actively taking steps towards basically making my dreams come true. By that I mean I’m volunteering [in an education centre for people with learning disabilities, and as a lived experience practitioner for the CEN Team]. Anchor has been the catalyst and support and so much more that I needed to get into recovery and start living instead of just surviving and I will always be profoundly grateful for having been given the opportunity to do Anchor.” 

This month Youth Support decided to have a switch up of our support space and change the layout of the room. We now have a board and cards game corner, gaming console area, football table space, social area with bean bags and even a table to do arts/crafts/drawing. This has gone down really well with our service users, the games console space being a big hit so far. 

Now we have the Xbox set up and have seen what a great success that has been among our youth, we have set up another games console, our Nintendo switch! If this is something that interests you, please feel free to come down and have a game or two.

We are also planning to spread the word about Youth Support in local schools which is really exciting as more people will be aware of us and what we have to offer.