Members of the Office Friendly team recently paid a visit to a local Rotherham charity, Rush House to see how the business can offer further support to its patrons.

Rush House is a local independent charity formed over 30 years ago that works primarily with young people aged 16-25 in the Rotherham area. The charity also provides supported accommodation to care leavers and the homeless, as well as providing residence for up to 26 young people at any one time. By working with these young people, they help them develop the skills they need to successfully manage a tenancy of their own.

Office Friendly have been working with Rush House over the past year to help support a range of different initiatives, including funding training for the charity’s eight front line staff. The 2-day training course, Youth Mental Health First Aid, helped staff develop their skills in recognising mental health issues in young people, be able to offer first aid and guide them towards the support they may need. Once trained, the staff will feel more capable in their ability to listen, reassure and respond to young people experience mental ill health even in a crisis and potentially stop a crisis from happening.

Many young people using Rush House services experience mental ill-health. This displays itself in a variety of forms including low mood, anxiety, self-harm, eating disorders, drug and alcohol use/addition.

The training will provide the right tools to have and start conversations about mental health, they want to be able to provide a healthy and supportive environment where young people feel able and confident to discuss any issues they are experiencing. The training will also give staff a chance to identify how their own mental health could or has been affected whilst trying to support these young people, and how best to support themselves in this respect.

The funding will also support the development and publication of a mental health resource booklet for young people using Rush House services. The booklet contains information and contact details for local services and also a directory of national online support services and self-help apps.

During the visit, Office Friendly found out how Rush House support these young people to develop the skills they need to successfully manage a tenancy of their own. Alongside the housing-related support services, they also provide support to young people who are not in education, employment or training (NEET) to work with them to identify areas of interest, increase confidence and motivation, develop application and interview skills and ultimately return to education or training and/or start work.

In the last four years, the charity has supported 130 young people in their transition into full-time permanent employment and 143 into education and training. By working with Rush House, Office Friendly and any business in the Rotherham area can provide valuable support by offering employability workshops, helping with job applications, hosting practice interviews, ‘behind the scenes’ visits and work experience placements.

Office Friendly have raised over £4000 for local charities in the past year with the help of South Yorkshire’s Community Foundation, an organisation which raises and distributes grants to community and voluntary projects across the region.