Improving Lives Notts Ltd

RCN 1146094, Nottingham

Our aim is to help adults in Nottingham who have complex health and social needs to lead independent and fulfilling lives. Since Improving Lives was founded in 2006, we have helped adults in Nottingham to believe that life can change for the better.

Our Support Service 

In 2019 we supported 170 people and 75% of them report managing their mental or physical health better. From March – December 2020 we had worked with over 225 adults following a 64% increase in referrals compared to the same period in the previous year. Due to unprecedented demand for our services we currently have a waiting list of people requiring our support. All the people we work with face multiple disadvantage: they suffer with mental illness compounded with a range of issues such as learning disabilities, long term and chronic physical health problems, debt, poverty, risk of homelessness, offending and substance misuse. Many are extremely lonely or socially isolated. They may not have supportive family and friends and 90% live alone. 

Our Support Workers provide individualised support to help people address the issues they are facing. The Support Worker talks to the person about the changes they want to make in their life. Together, they form a plan and work through it and support can be offered once a week or more depending on the needs of the individual.  Support Workers provide practical help including: 

  • Making health care and benefit appointments and accompanying people to them 
  • Liaising with local housing bodies to ensure homes are safe & adequately furnished 
  • Helping to consolidate debts and with budgeting and reducing household bills 
  • Ensuring people receive the financial support they are entitled to  
  • Assisting with shopping trips and giving advice on making simple and nutritious meals  

For some people we can see significant progress in a short time frame, for others we may work with them for up to 12-18 months.  

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 Some of the Improving Lives Team

We help to reduce social isolation and loneliness by providing weekly social groups when Covid-19 restrictions allow. These are open to everyone we work with and to people who have moved on from individual support. The groups include activities such as art, pool, crafts, social outings, walks and outdoor visits, lasting for 2 hours at the office or in the community. People can attend every week or on a drop-in basis. Our groups help people to build their confidence in a safe, welcoming environment and to start to develop their own networks. We also have 8 volunteers supporting us with phone befriending since Covid-19 restrictions began. 

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Our monthly pool group and volunteer led art group

Why We are Needed  

Our support meets a need that mental health services cannot. Timely and consistent, personalised support can help people to manage their mental health better and prevent crises. This is particularly important at a time when mental health services are over-stretched. One in four people wait more than three months to receive treatment following an initial appointment and one in 9 wait longer than 6 months (Royal College of Psychiatrists 2020). Some people we support have been waiting two years for their treatment to start.  

During the coronavirus restrictions, people with mental health problems are more likely to see their mental health worsen (Mind 2020). Social isolation is a major risk factor for recurring mental illness and offending. Since March, we have successfully adapted our service and continued to support all the people who receive individual support, the people who attended our groups and new referrals. We have: 

  • Offered phone support to everyone known to our service
  •  Purchased technology to enable beneficiaries to develop digital literacy skills. 
  • Amended our group offering in line with national and local restrictions 
  • Distributed art packs to keep in touch, ensuring that no one is left is isolation 1628159392_1628159391798.jpeg

Why We Need Your Help 

 Two large grants which make up over 60% of our funding are due to end in 2021. With support from Lloyds Bank Foundation we are developing a fundraising strategy and we aim to increase our support from local businesses. However, this will not replace all the lost grant income. We need your help to ensure we can continue to support people with complex needs in Nottingham in 2021 and beyond.