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Staff who worked over Christmas have been thanked by the charity's CEO who has also praised everyone for their commitment during 2021.

Jess Lievesley said: "A massive thank you to each and every one of you who worked or supported our patients over the festive period. As you all know, we’re a 24-hour operation, but this level of commitment does not go unnoticed and is hugely appreciated.

"Over the past year, we’ve cared for and supported 1,200 community patients and 915 inpatients, helping them safely navigate through their recovery journey - all within the continuing constraints of the pandemic. This alone is a noteworthy achievement, and one that’s a testament to you all. We’ve also seen a mammoth effort from staff and volunteers across our Charity to double vaccinate over 80 per cent of all staff to date as we work to that ever important deadline of next March.

"You’ve also shown huge appreciation, commitment and loyalty towards one another in the last year, and this has been proven by the 1,484 CARE Award nominations that have been submitted - I even got a couple which was very humbling! You are all amazing people and what you do makes such a huge difference to people’s lives, every day.

Highlights

"While we’ve faced some challenging times, there’s been some big highlights too. I’m personally extremely proud of the progress we’ve made in addressing the stigma of mental illness this year, with the many patient stories we’ve shared. A huge part of this was our ‘I’m Not Mad, I’m Me’ documentary, which received positive attention from both the media and public. Most recently it was screened at the Global Health Film Festival, with Gerri McHugh, the film festival’s Founder saying she found the “powerful” mental health stories “inspiring” and knew instantly that she wanted to include our documentary in their programme line up.

"It’s also been wonderful to bring back some of our much-loved events for both patients and staff, such as the Patient Summer Party, the Long Service Awards, the Annual Awards, the CARE Awards and more recently, our Christmas Market. Not to mention, 2021 saw the launch of our first-ever Volunteering Festival, which was hugely popular and gave our Volunteering Team a real boost. There really is no substitute for safely bringing people together, and connecting with others and to see everyone at these events smiling and laughing is always a personal highlight for me… And yes I promise, when we are able, we will hold a party for colleagues across the Charity!!

"I’d like to mention a few more exceptional developments that we’ve seen this year, such as the launch of LightBulb. This is a mental wellness programme which is being driven by the St Andrew’s College and is being offered to all schools in the local area. It’s already been rolled out across several primary and secondary schools, and the feedback has been wonderfully positive. The programme has also had some great media coverage, with LightBulb being featured in SEN Magazine, which is a top special educational needs magazine that is distributed to most schools.

"When it comes to the environment, we’ve made huge strides towards improving our sustainability, having recently signed a major environmental initiative called the Independent Healthcare Providers Network. This will help us to reduce our carbon footprint following the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow (COP26). Two other big wins for us this year include various ward moves to better and more suitable locations, which has resulted in all patients vacating from the main building in Northampton, along with the roll-out of our new Ascom emergency alarms system (to replace Ekahau) in William Wake House – with more buildings following suit in the New Year.

 Success in Essex, Birmingham and Notts

"And I can’t mention sustainability without congratulating our Essex Team, who scooped a Health Service Journal (HSJ) award for a project they created in partnership with our patients. I’m hugely proud of the team and their gardening initiative which stood out from more than 1,000 submissions, which goes to show how uniquely impressive the idea really is. A tweet posted on the evening of the awards said that the judges had been "blown away" by the project which was "entirely centred on delivering better patient outcomes."

"Our Birmingham site has also received some well-deserved attention, with a coveted Carers Champion Award at the Carer Friendly Business Awards in Birmingham. This accolade was made even more special as the announcement was made on Carers Rights Day in November.

"To complete the hat-trick, our community services in Nottinghamshire have also received an award to add to our trophy cabinet, by recently being awarded the ‘Commitment to Health and Social Care throughout the Pandemic’ prize at the Nottinghamshire Healthcare Professional UK awards. This is a huge recognition of the Winslow Team’s hard work and dedication.

 What’s next?

"Every single one of these highlights, and many more, are the result of our exceptional teamwork and commitment to our patients. As we enter 2022, we must look ahead and focus our efforts on implementing our new strategy to cement our future, with our first priorities being a relentless focus on the quality of care we provide and your experience of working at St Andrew’s. These two areas are critical to our future, and much of this work will be supported by the feedback you’ve given us at the recent ‘Jaffa Cake’ sessions, which so far over 1,000 of you have attended. We must also work collaboratively with our colleagues, partners and other key stakeholders to address the wider issues we face in delivering specialist care.

"I look forward to working with all of you in delivering our strategic goals. Thank you for everything you continue to do for the good of our patients, service users and carers. As I’ve said before, you are a team of wonderful people, who really do transform lives. And, as always, I ask you to speak up about anything that’s causing you even a hint of worry or concern, by being open with one another we learn and grow!

"I’m genuinely excited for our Charity and for its future. We have the foundations to make some innovative changes and to seize new opportunities. I am determined that we will continue to build on this work in 2022. I also look forward to hearing more of your thoughts and ideas in the New Year to help strengthen and embed our vision, values and purpose.

"Here’s to a fantastic 2022."