Holy Cross Church Mental Health Support Group Operational Policy for Café Sessions
Sessions will provide a café environment, with activities and information about mental health issues provided in a safe, welcoming space. It will be open to Parishioners and others in the local area over 16 (or under 16 if accompanied by a responsible adult) who have mental health issues, their carers, families and friends, and others who would like to increase their mental wellbeing and resilience by socialising, gaining support from each other, volunteers and spiritual supporters and learning self-help techniques. Sessions will be organised by the Steering Group and run by Volunteers supervised by Group Leaders, who are responsible to the Parish Council via the Steering Group. Those attending hope to combat stigma using information and publicity in the Parish.
All volunteers should apply for their role, provide two referees, and have a DBS certificate provided through the Parish. Group Leaders should have attended Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults session, or have online training, provided via Diocesan Safeguarding Office. Anyone running sessions from outside the Parish should have a DBS certified Volunteer or Group Leader with them at all times. Gender balance of Volunteers/Group Leaders should be considered.
Any concerns regarding safeguarding must be reported immediately to the Session Leader, who will contact the Parish Safeguarding Officer tel. 07598524024 if required. If there is immediate risk to an individual, call Police 999.
All people attending the session must agree to the Parish Equal Opportunities statement.
There must be at least two volunteers on site at all times.
No pictures, films or voice recordings are permitted in the session unless as part of an activity, when signed consent is required.
Volunteers and Group Leaders must not make home visits. Requests for these should be passed on, if the person requesting agrees, to SVP/Holy Communion Visiting Group/other Parish or local organisation as appropriate, and Steering Group informed.
All information shared between volunteers and attendees is treated as confidential within the Volunteer/Session Leader group. The only exception is if it appears an individual is at risk, or if a crime has been committed, in which case the Parish Safeguarding Officer/Police/ Social Services (out of hours 0208 314 6000) should be contacted as appropriate by the Session Leader.
All data collected containing personal information of Volunteers or Users of the service must be kept in a locked box/safe to which only Session Leaders have access. Any personal information stored on electronic devices must be password or PIN protected, available only to the Session Leader holding the information, and deleted as soon as it is no longer needed.
Health & Safety
Volunteers and Session Leaders should wear name badges at all times when in the session.
Ingredients of food and drink provided must be available to attendees, who may have food allergies.
All those attending the session, including Volunteers and Group Leaders, should register on their first visit, giving name, address, contact phone or e mail number and the name/contact number of an emergency contact. Additionally, all should sign an agreement not to bring alcohol, drugs (including prescription drugs) or sharp objects to the session, and be made aware of issues of confidentiality and data protection. Users should be invited to share how they may present to others if they are not feeling well, and what action they may like others to take in this event. All should sign to agree that their personal information may be stored as outlined above.
Lifting and handling of heavy objects must be preceded by a risk assessment, and supervised by Group Leader.
Soft furnishings should be fire retardant, and electrical equipment must have PAT before use and annually thereafter. If candles are used, a Group Leader must be present at all times. In the event of a fire, the fire alarm must be activated immediately, and the Group Leader in charge telephone the Fire Brigade 999. All Volunteers and Group Leaders organise evacuation – from the Hall via fire door, and other rooms via front door. As far as possible, without compromising their own safety, Volunteers/Group Leaders should check the building is empty. A Group Leader must collect the signing in sheet and check everyone is accounted for.
All rooms not in use must be kept locked. No groups will be held in the Upper Room unless pre-arranged and enough additional Group Leaders are available. At all times >2 Session Leaders must be on site, >1 volunteer in each occupied room (a Session Leader in the Library). Numbers permitted in rooms: Hall 75; Ellis Room 6; Library 10; (Upper Room 25). The minimum number of volunteers needed to run a session is six.
Volunteers/Session Leaders should be aware of potential hazards, eg sharp/breakable objects, ligature points, hot liquids and be prepared to put extra safeguards in place if particularly vulnerable people are present (eg cooler beverages, volunteers to support or engage a person more intensively/extra vigilance for periods of time ).
Volunteers working as food handlers must have a Food Hygiene certificate. Only Kitchen Volunteers are allowed in the kitchen, which should be locked if none are present. Cleaning materials must be kept locked when Users are in the building, in accordance with COSHH protocol.
Volunteers and Session Leaders are responsible for reporting and ameliorating any risk they are aware of, eg clearing up spilled liquids.
Verbal abuse and physical intimidation are not acceptable. If there is such an event, Volunteers should inform and support Group Leaders to address the situation, which should be done in a firm but non-confrontational way. Many incidents can be de-escalated and misunderstandings cleared up once the participants are able to explain the situation, but a person may have to be asked politely to leave if they are unable to guarantee to control their behaviour, or if it has been very distressing to others. If this cannot be achieved safely, Volunteers and Session Leaders should help Users to move away to a safe place (outside, or in a different room) and the Police called if necessary.
A first aider must be present at sessions, and consideration given to calling an ambulance if there are concerns. The first aid box is kept in the kitchen.
A log of untoward incidents (eg slips, any incident requiring first aid, damage to equipment) must be kept, and locked in box/safe at the end of sessions. They must be discussed at the end of the group, and presented to the Steering Group. If any User is injured or very distressed, their contact should be notified.
All Volunteers should have training as outlined in job descriptions.
As far as possible food should be locally sourced and Fair Trade. Hot and cold drinks will be available. Packet soup supplemented by eg vegetables/noodles, bread and sandwiches will be provided, as well as fruit and healthy snack bars. Gloves must be used for food handling, and food hygiene standards maintained. Ingredient lists should be available for people who have food allergies. Food and drink cannot be sold, but there will be a suggested donation price list.
The Treasurer is responsible for keeping records of income/expenditure, deciding how much petty cash should be retained, and arranging banking of any excess. All requests for money or to buy food or equipment must be made to the Treasurer, and receipts provided. The Treasurer must be informed how much cash is in the locked box/safe at the end of each session. The Treasurer will arrange access to/banking of Project money with the Parish accountant.
Brief Outline of Sessions
Before: Plan sessions/activities, and draw up rota. Source food and drink, equipment for sessions. Publicity.
5pm: Set up kitchen and activity areas. Confirm plans for groups and allocate tasks
5.30 pm: Open. All Volunteers, Group Leaders and Group Users sign in, new attendees complete registration sheet. Pre session assessment of how everyone is feeling
5.30-8.30pm: Groups, drop-in, café, information available
8pm: Kitchen closes and Kitchen Volunteers clear away/wash up
8.30: Session ends. Feedback requested - post group assessment of how everyone is feeling, suggestion box etc.
Clearing up. Short debrief, including any incidents. Agree and record any actions arising from session. Lock personal information, logs, feedback forms (if Project Record Keeper not present) and cash (if Treasurer not present) in box/safe