hope springs Outreach
hope springs is a program of the Rosanna Uniting Church
that provides support
One-to-One - practical help during difficult times,
Groups - a range of groups providing mutual support/self help for carers & socially-oriented support groups for people with mental health issues.
The service is based at the Arden Crescent Uniting Church
People suffering from mental disorders are among the most marginalised in our community. Because of their illnesses they are denied a normal place in society and, too often, in our churches. Central to the teaching of Jesus is the love of our neighbour. His story of the Final Judgement in Matthew 25: 37-40, and his life, graphically remind us who is included in this term "neighbours": those whose thought and behaviour patterns are strange; those who hunger for love and acceptance, those who are stripped of the likelihood of normal work and family options; those imprisoned by their own fears and mental torment. To affirm the fundamental human dignity of sufferers and to offer the love of Christ to them is simply to continue our Lord's work..
All Psychiatric Hospitals in Victoria have now been
closed and the number of Acute beds in General Hospital Psychiatric Units
is small. This means many long-term patients of former psychiatric institutions
have been placed back in, what for them is, an alien community. The current
policy is for acutely ill people to be treated in the "least restrictive
environment necessary" - usually the person's home - so admission
to a Psychiatric Unit is less likely. Community Mental Health services
carry a heavy load - Case managers have case-loads of 30 or more. Government
spending on Mental Health is approximately half in proportion to its contribution
to the overall burden of all illness in the community.
The hope springs ministry commenced officially in mid-1997, but arose out of a long-term commitment (over 38 years) of members of the Rosanna Parish to sufferers of mental illness and a conviction that the church needed to explore new ways of offering care to sufferers and their carers in the brave, and often uncaring, new world of rapid deinstitutionalization.
The Church in Rosanna has been involved for a long time with psychiatrically disabled people. The Rosanna Methodist Service Group began in 1960 with a working bee at the Lady Herring Spastic Center. Then followed a trip to The Zoo with 30 children from Kew Mental Hospital, activities with several other groups and outings with patients from Larundel Psychiatric Hospital. The Arden Crescent Youth Group got involved during the 1960's with patients at Plenty Hospital - socials, shopping expeditions, Christmas party and the like. Then the Methodist and Presbyterian Service groups responded to a proposal by Dr. Wellsley Hannah, Psychiatrist at Mont Park Hospital, to take a bus-load of patients (plus staff) away for a weekend. There have been 45 such weekends since. Monthly activities continue for people suffering from mental illness especially those living in special accommodation houses. The gatherings are keenly looked forward to, and the friendship and support enjoyed between group activities is much valued. The name of the group has recently been changed to the Friendship Group, which reflects its nature.
1998 - 2000
Ø The Rosanna Parish provide the office and its costs and we are governed by a Committee of Management. The need for help is way beyond the resources of one person, so a team of fourteen volunteer Pastoral Carers was recruited and equipped by competing a 2-day Coping with Mental Illness, 14 Principles for the Relatives course with sfv, and other training (ongoing).
Ø The team is developing resources, getting to know people in care and their families and friends, visiting home and hospital to provide one-to-one support, and facilitating mutual help/self help groups. The care provided can involve companionship, practical help, collaborating with other service providers, advocacy, supporting the persons spirituality and including longer term patients in our church activities in Rosanna, such as Worship, the Friendship Group and camps.
Ø We have links to Clinical Services & other Support Services, such as sfv, Neami NE and CarerLinks North.
Ø In order to get to know patients and carers in hospital, and so we can offer support when people are discharged, small hope springs teams have regular involvement with the residents of Bunjil House (Secure Extended Care) and Mary Guthrie House (Acquired Brain Injury Unit).
Ø Mutual support seems are effective than individual support for some, so Carer Support groups in Eltham and Rosanna were established. Education, training and support for carers was arranged - 30 have completed 14 Principles Course.
Ø hope springs has become a place for Theological Hall students (SUMP, INSTEP) to develop pastoral care skills. Three groups for consumers have been established.
Ø We work towards the church, local and wider, becoming an informed place of welcome to all through speaking to church gatherings.
Ø A Resource Kit has been produced by the UCA Mental Health Network.
2001 and Beyond
Funding has been granted for the next five years.