hope springs Outreach

hope springs is a program of the Rosanna Uniting Church that provides support
for people recovering from mental illness and for their families and carers

One-to-One - practical help during difficult times,
information on community resources, and spiritual counselling

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 Rosanna
and operates mainly within the cities of Banyule and Nillumbik.

One-to-One Support

· individual support including responding at difficult times;
listening without taking sides - helping to clarify the understanding of what is happening.
· helping to assess strengths, support systems and self-care strategies.
· providing information on mental health issues, clinical services and community support services.
· helping people to know their path of hope and healing in supporting their spirituality
· providing training opportunities in coping with mental illness
· offering advocacy, so that the person's voice can be heard
· referral to other services

There is no charge for the service. Confidentiality is respected

Support Groups

Rosanna Carer Support Group
Support, information, new skills, friendship
Meets at 10.00 am, 1st Wednesday of month
Contact: Daphne Brown 9435 0391 & David Tregear 9459 7350

Eltham Carer Support Group
Support, information, new skills, friendship
Meets at 8.00 pm, 2nd Thursday of month
Contact: Carolyn Banna 9439 1921 & Jan Gill 9434 7642

Mind & Spirit
A Christian way of sharing in the recovery from illness
Meets at 8 pm, 1st & 3rd Wednesday of month
Sycamore Tree Coffee Shop, Heidelberg
Contact: Rev. Peter Sanders 9459 8859

The Springboard
Activity & friendship group
Meets 10.00 am Tuesdays
Drop-in Centre, Scots Church, Heidelberg
Contact: Philip Staff 9432 7009

Writers' Space
Friendly sharing of ideas, learning, creating
Meets regularly on Thursday afternoons
Contact: Ruth Baker 9459 0634

The hope springs Story (in process)

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.
In homes where someone is mentally ill, family members/carers most often lack information, training and support, resulting in real stress for all involved. The provision of pastoral care for people affected by mental illness is now more problematic. In 1992 there were 11 Government-funded MH Chaplains working in Psychiatric Hospitals. In 2000 there is no government funding for any pastoral care of people affected by mental illness.

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.

In 1997 the Parish submitted a proposal to the Synod of Victoria for funding of a new community-based Mental Health Pastoral Care ministry, with a team suitably equipped volunteers to provide pastoral care to sufferers from mental illness and their families and carers in the communities of the Yarra Valley Presbytery. Funding was granted and Rev Peter Sanders was appointed as the full-time co-ordinator for three years, commencing 1998.

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 firstly developed a map of the Mental Health Services and Support Services available in our area, called A Guide to Mental Health Services and Support Services in Melbourne's NE (published by hope springs in November 1998 using funds obtained from the City of Banyule).

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.