Steven enjoys a free cruise

Steven Allison was one of the lucky 999 people to board a Royal Caribbean cruise-liner for a 4-day cruise around the UK in July. Royal Caribbean offered free cruise holidays for workers in the emergency services, social care sector, NHS and armed-forces in a nod of appreciation for their efforts during the coronavirus pandemic.  Key workers who were able to show proof of an official Blue Light card and were UK residents were able to register in a ballot which was drawn in April.

Steven who has worked for SJOG for 28 years and is based at our supported living service in Leyburn set off from Southampton along with his wife and two daughters.

Steven said, “We had a fabulous time and were treated like absolute royalty! Amazing experience!”

30 July 2021

We cannot be more proud!

Last week three of our Carmona House clients graduated from the 10-week Free Thinking course at the Fircroft College in Birmingham. Clients have enjoyed a 10-week x 3-day residential course at the Fircroft College facilities.

Free Thinking is for victims of trauma such as modern slavery. During the 10 weeks people are able to share their stories with each other, learn about different cultures, build their confidence and start planning their next steps.

After four months of effort, the three students completed their course on 24th June with the presentation of their projects, accompanied by their key worker Jana Grygarova who has encouraged, supported and accompanied them during this process.

Our three graduates are ready for the next level! Congratulations!

Ivan Munoz,Team Leader - Birmingham
Homelessness and Modern Day Slavery/ Trafficking Services

Photo shows two of our graduates with their key worker, Jana

16 July 2021

Olallo House Commended in London Homelessness Awards

From 30 applications, and short-listed to the final six Olallo House been specially commended for its work as a specialist TB homeless service.

Ian Brady, Executive Chair of London Housing Foundation and chair of the judging panel, said: “With a strong field of applicants, each of these projects did well to get to the last six and all would have been worthy winners.”  

More details about the London Homelessness Awards can be found at  

#LondonHomelessnessAwards    #LHA2021

14 July 2021

Olallo House Shortlisted in London Homelessness Awards

SJOG's Olallo House is one of six projects from across London that has been shortlisted for the London Homelessness Awards 2021.

These were announced in yesterday’s (1 July 2021) press release by London Housing Foundation: 

Shortlist for London Homelessness Awards Announced!  

Six projects from across London have been shortlisted for the London Homelessness Awards and are in the running to win the first prize of £30000.

This is the 21st anniversary of the awards, which are sponsored by the London Housing Foundation, London Housing Directors, Mayor of London, Crisis and Shelter. This year the awards are run in partnership with the Evening Standard Homeless Fund.

Organisers received over 30 applications for the awards and a judging panel had to choose just six. The projects will now be visited by a member of the panel and the final winner and runners up who will share a prize fund of £60000 will be announced at a special event on October 14th at the Union Chapel in Islington.

Simon Dow is the Chair of the judging panel for the London Homelessness Awards. He said: “In a strange and uniquely challenging year for the housing and homelessness sector we were very pleased with the number and quality of applications received. Yet again we saw examples of really high quality innovative work being carried out by a wide variety of organisations across London, helping people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. It was as ever very tricky to agree a final six but these projects show real imagination, sustainability and commitment to help reduce homelessness in London.”

The six shortlisted projects (in alphabetical order) are:

Camden Health Improvement: is a specialist homeless GP service in Camden. Since 2015 they have provided a novel, innovative and evidence-based GP Outreach programme. The impact has been to raise the average age of death of their homeless patients from 47 up to 54 years old. This is whilst the national trend has been for the age of death for homeless people to fall from 47 down to 44 years of age.

MyBnk: The Money House is an accredited youth homelessness prevention scheme. It targets care leavers and vulnerable young adults about to move into social housing. Over a week, trained experts in four real flats across London teach participants everything they need to know to keep their tenancy. They focus on survival money management skills, understanding systems, planning for the future, and reducing financial exclusion. It has resulted in a 64% drop in evictions for those at risk of becoming homeless.

Southwark Law Centre: Homeless Patients Legal Advocacy Service: Southwark Law Centre works in partnership with Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust's Homeless Health Team to provide advice and legal representation for homeless hospital patients. The law centre's specialist solicitors help patients with particularly complex immigration, housing or welfare benefits cases. It also provides training and advice to the Trust's homeless health team and other staff, so they are better able to support this particularly vulnerable patient group.

Standing Together and Solace Women’s Aid: The Westminster VAWG (violence against women and girls) Housing First project provides permanent, independent housing and intensive support for 20 women experiencing long term homelessness, any form of VAWG and multiple disadvantage. Solace work to build relationships with the women and provide intensive ‘woman led’ support to help them maintain a tenancy and improve physical and mental wellbeing. Standing Together manage partnerships with a coalition of housing partners who provide units for the project.

SJOG Hospitaller Services: Olallo House is an innovative intermediate care service opened in 2008 in response to multiple tuberculosis (TB) treatment failures and preventable deaths among people experiencing homeless with complex needs and No Recourse to Public Funds. In addition to successfully supporting people to complete challenging TB treatment, Olallo is first and foremost a “home” providing holistic, trauma informed support enabling residents to realise positive changes and move on in their lives.

St Mungo’s: Westminster Street outreach Service work 365 days of the year early in the morning and late at night to provide support for individuals rough sleeping in Westminster. Westminster SOS provide support and assistance to anyone that finds themselves rough sleeping in Westminster. When people are housed they are then offered bespoke support so individuals maintain accommodation and do not return to the streets. This includes support with housing, health, immigration, access to benefits and reconnections where appropriate.

More details about the London Homelessness Awards can be found at:

2 July 2021

Welcoming Rockliffe Court to SJOG

We’re delighted to welcome the people of Rockliffe Court to the SJOG family.  Rockliffe Court in Hurworth, near Darlington provides eighteen self-contained supported living accommodation and community facilities with 24-hour support for people with physical and sensory disabilities. 

The properties are owned by the Hospitaller Order of Saint John, our founding charity, but for over 20 years have been leased, and the service delivered by another provider.  We look forward to them being part of the growing number of services we provide for people with learning and physical disabilities.

Dementia Awareness Week 17 – 23 May 2021

One in three of us born in the UK today will go on to develop dementia in our lifetime, and there will be one million people living with dementia by 2025 making dementia care one of the greatest challenges facing our society. 

Dementia Action Week is a national event that sees the UK public taking action to improve the lives of people affected by dementia. 

Below is a powerful poem written by Debbie Affleck of University Hospitals Plymouth to raise awareness.

Hold my hand; I’m scared feel alone,
My thoughts are jumping; I want to go home,
Oh Mother protect me, Father I see you so clear,
But Dementia has grasped me, instilling such fear.

Oh where on earth am I and hey, who are you?
Why can’t I do the things that I used to do?
The lights are so bright here and noises so loud.
A familiar face I need in the crowd.

I need the bathroom, but how do I say?
Nothings the same now, I don’t know the day.
I get so frustrated, the words jumbled when they come out.
Please don’t get angry if I scream and I shout.

Oh were on earth am I and hey, who are you?
Why can’t I do the things I used to do?
The lights are so bright here and noises so loud.
A familiar face I need in the crowd.

My life was so full, but in darkness I fell,
Continue to tell me, I do have a call bell.
And if I forget, encourage me to drink and to feed,
Check, use your skill to fulfil all my needs.

Oh where on earth am I and hey who are you?
Why Can’t I do the things I used to do?
The lights are so bright here and noises so loud.
A familiar face I need in the crowd.

So when I’m in hospital, with me, go slow.
Put familiar items around me so I know where to go.
If I wander, just let me, so long as I’m safe
When I act inappropriately help me to save face.

Oh where on earth am I and hey who are you?
Why Can’t I do the things I used to do?
The lights are so bright here and noises so loud.
A familiar face I need in the crowd.

I never chose for my brain to be ill.
Always so vibrant and such a strong will.
Get to know me and help me so much to unwind.
Trigger happy memory, continue to remind.

Oh where on earth am I and hey, who are you?
Why can’t I do all the things I used to do?
The lights are so bright here and noises so loud.
A familiar face I need in the crowd.

For I am a human, no different to you.
This awful disease, it just makes me so blue.
So with a deep sense of compassion, even if I hit.
Remember my suffering and help to relieve it.

Oh where on earth am I and hey, who are you?
Why can’t I do the things I used to do?
The lights are so bright here and noises so loud.
A familiar face I need in the crowd.

You can be my familiar face, someone to hold.
To keep me warm when I feel the cold.
In a nursing vocation protect and to serve.
For this, at the very least is what I deserve.

D-C Affleck (Shipley Ward)

Welcome to Michelle, our new Head of HR

We're delighted to welcome Michelle Dalby to SJOG. 

Michelle has over 20 years’ experience of working in HR gained in a wide range of sectors, but predominantly education and charitable organisations.  She has a MSc in Human Resource Management and is a chartered member of the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development).

Michelle has a keen interest in change management, organisational culture and how the HR Team can support the growth and sustainability of organisations.

Michelle said, “It has clearly been an interesting couple of years here at SJOG and I am really excited to be part of such a worthwhile, forward thinking organisation that clearly cares for the people we support.  I am really keen to see how the HR Team can have a positive impact on our colleagues, ensuring that they feel LOVED”.

Celebrating Mental Health Awareness Week

This year the theme is Nature and how connecting with the natural world can support good mental health.

During the pandemic, turning to nature helped many people through lockdowns and research shows that good mental health depends on being able to connect with nature in some way and its power in both prevention of and recovery from poor mental health.

Follow us on Facebook to see how our people we support and colleagues around the country have been benefiting from being around nature in their local community.

SJOG Facebook: 

#MentalHealthAwarenessWeek   #ConnectwithNature

World Hand Hygiene Day 2021

Seconds save lives - clean your hands!

5th May is the designated World Health Organisation (WHO) Hand Hygiene Day.  Cleaning hands regularly is one of the most effective ways of stopping the spread of COVID-19 as well as many other common infections.  Bacteria and micro-organisms are on all surfaces with the exception of very recently decontaminated surfaces in clinical areas.  Regular, correct hand hygiene is one of the most important and simple things that we can do to protect our health, the health of the people we support and the health of our colleagues.

Good hygiene practices are paramount throughout our services to keep the people we support safe.  Click here  to read our latest research: Swab Mob! Using Adenosine Triphosphate screening to improve environmental cleaning practice in residential care settings during Covid-19

"Celebrating Excellence in Leadership"

In a series of features celebrating winners of the Markel 3rd Sector Awards, CMM - Care Management Matters - spoke to Paul Bott, SJOG's chief executive, who won the Leadership Award 2020.

Read the full article here:

Proud to achieve ISO 27001 certification

SJOG have been awarded the internationally recognised ISO 27001 certification for the way we protect the data and information of the people we support, our colleagues and donors.

We’ll now be audited annually to ensure that our robust Information Security System (ISMS) continues to develop, and that our colleagues remain up to date on how to protect information, ensure confidentiality and prevent unauthorised access to the information we hold.

Marking World TB Day - 24 March 2021

Today, 24 March, is World Tuberculosis (TB) Day – marking the date in 1882 when Dr Robert Koch announced that he had discovered the bacterium that causes TB, which opened the way towards diagnosing and curing this disease.  

To mark the day and raise awareness of TB which remains one of the world’s deadliest infectious killers, SJOG’s Olallo House in London is welcoming a special guest to its service – Professor Onn Min Kon who is head of the tuberculosis service at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, as well as professor of respiratory medicine at the National Heart & Lung Institute, Imperial College London, and chair of the UK National Multidrug-resistant Tuberculosis (MDRTB) clinical advice service.  

Professor Kon is going to be ‘volunteering’ in the service and at the same time giving us an insight into the world of TB treatment. (Follow our social media for more information!)

London is infamously known as the TB capital of Western Europe and accounts for around 36% of cases nationally.  Rates of TB are highest among people with social risk factors including homelessness and especially among rough sleepers, who are more likely to be infectious and less likely to complete TB treatment.  (Standard TB treatment lasts a minimum of 6 months and for multi-drug resistant TB, treatment takes a minimum of 2 years.)

The Department of Health recognised homelessness as a major barrier to completing TB treatment.  To address this and meet this unmet need, Olallo House has, since 2011, been providing specialist medical, social and psychological support enabling homeless patients to complete their full course of TB treatment and address other issues that have contributed to their homelessness.

Please support Olallo's work:

As we mark World TB day and celebrate our work at Olallo House supporting some of the most vulnerable TB patients through their treatment and with the other complexities of their lives, we continue to seek funding to complement their TB treatment package.  Please donate and help us to help vulnerable homeless people rebuild their lives: 


Celebrating Saint John of God Day - 8th March

Our inspiration to ‘do good’.

On 8th March, we celebrate the life of João Cidade, better known as Saint John of God, the charity’s founder.  As a charity we follow his example to do good and continue to add new stories to his 500 year legacy.

Born in 1495 John dedicated his adult life to the care of the poor and the sick. Having experienced treatment for his own mental illness, he fought to change the practices of the day so that people were treated with love and compassion. He looked after people no-one else would and people soon followed his way - the Hospitaller way. This following grew into a worldwide movement and today health and social care services exist in over 50 countries.

SJOG is inspired by this drive to do good and every day we follow his example in our services throughout the country. 

Happy Saint John of God Day to all!

Leadership Award Winner: SJOG’s Chief Executive, Paul Bott

The Markel 3rd Sector Care Awards celebrate the work of the not-for-profit sector.  Finalists were short-listed in the autumn of 2020 and at a virtual ceremony on 12 February, Paul was named winner in the Leadership category.

The winner was announced by Liz Jones, Policy Director for the National Care Forum, who described Paul as ‘a determined leader, phenomenal and driven.  And despite being faced with an enormous challenge, his relentless approach paved the way forward for change whilst also being a sensitive decision maker’.

A conversation with Esther Rantzen followed, where Paul talked about the work of the charity meeting need where we can, and in particular the growing area of need in modern day slavery; SJOG now being the largest provider of safe-houses in the country.

Paul paid tribute to the great people within the organisation who have contributed to ensuring its continued success. An inclusive approach embracing the genius of our colleagues is what makes the difference. 

Esther concluded: “Congratulations on the extraordinary work you are doing and best wishes to your genius team.”

Introducing Magic Space..

.. a mobile word of sensory exploration

Sensory therapy is proven to be beneficial for people with learning disabilities and complex needs. Welcome to Magic Space - using new advancements in technology it creates sensory experiences in a virtual environment, and putting it on wheels so that we can take it anywhere we need  – it’s magic!

Magic Space is a concept that we have been working on for several years.  In 2020, the Covid pandemic and the need to shield vulnerable people in our care meant that access to traditional sensory therapies ceased. The need for Magic Space became even more apparent and in September 2020, The National Lottery (as part of the Covid Response Fund) granted the funding for the first Magic Space.  Between then and December 2020, Magic Space was designed and coach-built to our specification and was delivered to us in January 2021.

This will enable us to deliver bespoke sensory experiences to meet the needs of people we support; combining technology and traditional sensory experiences and therapy, whether that might be calming, stimulating, for desensitisation, learning or for entertainment.  The technology uses immersive virtual reality, projection, 360 multi-sensory experience including wind, scent, touch, sound and vibration.

When we conducted a pilot test in 2019, the people we support in Dalby View experienced a range of scenarios from being on a racing track to attending a pop concert. Staff and the people we support all said that Magic Space was “phenomenal” and “a game-changer”.  “There is nothing like this - using virtual environments in a therapeutic way to improve quality of life outcomes is brilliant.”

SJOG’s IT Technician Awarded Apprentice of the Month

Awarded by Baltic Apprenticeships to Lee Wilson who is working towards his Level 4 IT Professional qualification at SJOG . Lee was nominated by SJOG’s Chief Finance Officer, Leanne Welford, who shared the ways that Lee has made an impact on the charity: “Lee has managed IT for SJOG for 2 years with minimal additional support. The charity has been through an extraordinary period of change and growth, supporting more people in need. During this time, Lee managed the transfer to Office365 and the move to fully cloud-based systems, supporting the introduction of a new integrated IT system across the charity.

Lee has approached his apprenticeship with enthusiasm and has grown in confidence and knowledge. This month, as well as winning apprentice of the week during training for his diligent approach to his studies, he has delivered amazing outcomes for us.

At short notice, Lee managed to source and set up 150 tablets for use in a new outreach service supporting victims of modern day slavery. This service will be critical in supporting extremely vulnerable people remotely in these difficult times. He also took a lead in arranging the entire IT infrastructure for the project, and ensured adequate connections would be available for our colleagues and the people we support. In addition to this, Lee saved the charity £70,000 by sourcing free software licences to support the project. This was an amazing effort, recognised by all his colleagues. Lee is well known for always being willing to help, to solve a problem, and to go the extra mile for the people we support. He is a valuable part of the SJOG family.”

Well done Lee!

Reproduced with permission of Baltic Apprenticeships

Yodel Delivers The Minims a Christmas Gift

A huge thank you to Yodel for their generous donation of £550 to The Minims, our service in Hatfield in Hertfordshire.  Chosen as their local Christmas charity of the year by the Yodel Hatfield Transport Office, The Minims was the lucky recipient of the proceeds of a Christmas raffle amongst the Yodel delivery drivers.  Photo shows Faye and Miggy from the Minims receiving the donation from Lisa and Diane from Yodel.  Thanks to all for this great support!

The ‘Hospitality Leadership Torch’ is passed! 

SJOG is delighted to announce a new chair for the charity.  Emma Gibbons was elected at the meeting of the board on 10 December which saw Brother Donatus Forkan step down from the position after six years.  This was quite a momentous occasion in the history of our organisation with this position being held by a lay-person for the first time. 

At the board meeting, Brother Donatus’ final act as chair was to thank his fellow trustees for their support during his tenure in office. He also thanked the CEO, Paul Bott, and the other members of the Executive Management Team (EMT) for their hard work in turning the charity around during the past two years or so - quite an exceptional achievement. Brother Donatus also thanked the previous trustees and previous members of the management team, all of whom in their own way have contributed to the work of the charity down the years.  

In congratulating Emma on her election as chair, Brother Donatus assured Emma of his full support as she assumes her new role and wished her every success and blessing in her work.  “I am sure that Emma will lead from the front and build a team that shares the same vison and dream for the charity. This will ensure its fidelity to the long traditions and the legacy that has been passed on from previous generations of followers of Saint John of God. In this way the work of charity will go from strength to strength over the coming years.   There is no doubt that this new chapter of the presence of Hospitality in the manner of Saint John of God in the UK will be exciting and effective in accompanying, serving more and more needy members in society and advocating on their behalf.”  Brother Donatus Forkan, OH  

Thank you to Scorton Buddies

People in our service in Scorton were delighted to receive a visit from Scorton Buddies coming with a delivery Christmas bags, full of biscuits, chocolates and shortbread. A perfect Christmas treat!  Scorton Buddies is a local befriending scheme and has been a massive support to SJOG especially during this year of the pandemic. The philanthropy of the Buddies extends to the wider community of Scorton and is supported widely by residents of the village who donate books, dvds, toys for sale to others – a real community effort which supports local people in need of a little bit of kindness.

“We are so grateful for their kindness.”  Thank you to Ian and all the Scorton Buddies from everyone at St John's Terrace - North Yorkshire Supported Living Services.

Helping others at Christmas

On a cold December night, Alex and Brendon from our supported living services in Bradford went out into Bradford city centre to hand out hampers that they and SJOG staff had put together for homeless people. It was a particularly cold night, but both guys were determined to go out and help others.

The four people to whom Alex and Brendon gave the hampers were over-whelmed and very appreciative of their gifts.  With two hampers left to give, Alex and Brendon offered these as extra gifts or to maybe to hand to a friend.  This offer was declined as they were alone and had no-one to hand the extra gift to. 

“It was so humbling that these extra gifts weren’t accepted as they didn’t want to accept too much from us.  Alex and Brendon are determined to get the remaining two gifts to people who need them so they plan to out again this week.

A massive thank you to Brendon, Alex, Katie and Adeena for their kindness and generosity, and giving up an evening at home in front of the fire to help others.  I am very proud of them all."

Michella Sunderland, Service Manager – Bradford Supported Living Services

Paul Bott – Highly Commended Charity Leader of the Year

At this year’s North East Charity Awards, our chief executive, Paul Bott was highly commended for Charity Leader of the Year. This category was to recognise exceptional voluntary sector leaders who make outstanding contributions to their organisation or the wider sector.

Paul was commended for being instrumental in the regeneration of the charity since joining us in October 2018, and for making the charity vibrant again.  Engaging the genius of all SJOG’s colleagues and trusting that they knew the answers to the problems we faced at the time, Paul channelled this energy and creativity to be ambitious for the people we serve.

Together we’ve rediscovered and reconnected SJOG’s purpose, which put simply is ‘we’re here to help’.

An Extra Special Christmas Tree

People at Lindisfarne Court, our residential care service in Darlington, decided to do something a little different this year and in addition to their usual Christmas trees, they have a ‘positive quote from each of the people we support Christmas tree’.

Each little label which adorns the tree has a lovely positive message as below: 

From Mike:  The beauty of Christmas lies not just in the date but in the feeling it gives.

From Peter:  Wishing you love, health, happiness and inner peace all through and beyond this holiday season.

From Ronnie:  What is Christmas? It is tenderness for the past, courage for the present, and hope for the future.

From Graham: The best Christmas gift is to realise how much you have already.

From Stephen: Christmas is not as much about opening presents as opening our hearts.

From Jack: The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.

From Craig: Christmas is the season for kindling the fire of hospitality.

From Russ:  It’s not what’s under the Christmas tree that matters, it’s who is around it.

From June: Keep your Christmas heart open all year round.

From Barry: A little more sparkle, a little less stress. This Christmas, I wish you the very best.

From Ebony: Are you part of the inn crowd or are you one of the stable few?

Happy Christmas everyone!

First Visitors to SJOG Visitor Pods

Graham lives at Lindisfarne Court, our residential care service in Darlington and like so many others during the pandemic, has so missed the visits of his family.  Creating a ‘pod’ to keep everyone safe has meant visits can take place again and in the words of service manager, Amanda, “Graham was over the moon to see his parents today.”  And likewise so were Graham’s parents, Jan and Ged who have badly missed being able to see their son.

“It was lovely to see Graham close up and for him to be able to see us with his limited vision.  The pod was lovely and warm as well as safe and secure.  We really appreciate the effort you and your team have made to enable us to visit Graham.” 

More pods like this - safe spaces that separate visitors and people we support, are now being built in other services around the country to enable visits between loved ones to take place. 

We are pleased to report that Terry Yorath House in Leeds is the latest service to announce the opening of ther pod and everyone there is looking forward to welcoming visitors once again.

Leading Effective Change in Charities: A Case Study

On 3 November Shoosmiths broadcasted, to a live audience, a conversation between Robert Nieri and SJOG’s Chief Executive, Paul Bott.

The wide ranging conversation covers the cultural and systemic changes that SJOG has undergone in the last two years; a transformation recently recognised by the award of ‘Change Project of the Year’ at the National Charity Times Awards and in receiving four nominations (including one award for Finance Team of the Year) at the Third Sector Awards.  

Paul talks about the changes and the importance of using the genius of everyone involved in SJOG in achieving its turnaround. The importance of purpose, living our values of Hospitality, Compassion and Respect and what the future holds for the charity.

You can hear more here 

Or access the recording through on Shoosmiths website here  

SJOG's Finance Teams Wins Third Sector Award

At last night’s (7 October) Third Sector Awards ceremony, our brilliant finance team scooped the award for Finance Team of the Year.

Wendy Cotton, Technical Line Manager – Social Welfare, Markel announced the award:  “The award went to a team who took time to understand all of the issues before implementing changes which were ultimately responsible for securing the long-term future of the organisation.”

The small team of eight - Leanne, Rachel, Jenny, Jo, Sam, Louie, Carole and Joan (and joined recently by Lynne) have been instrumental in transforming the financial health of the charity so that it can continue to change the lives of the people we serve.  They have led on improving financial skills across the charity, putting tools in the hands of all of our staff so that we can evidence the impact of what the charity does.  

Better evidence has meant improved relationships with funders, a financial modelling process that supports growth, and better decisions being made across the charity. 

Leanne Welford, SJOG’s Chief Finance Officer said, “I’m delighted that the efforts of the finance team have been recognised by Third Sector this year.  They’ve worked extremely hard, achieved some amazing outcomes and I’m very proud of them!”

Everyone at SJOG is very proud – they are a great team!

GEM – Going the Extra Mile Award for SJOG’s Karen Hannigan

Acknowledging our colleagues who have gone the extra mile, we were pleased to present a GEM award to:

Karen HanniganAdministration Assistant – St Paul’s Nursing Home, Selly Park 

Nominated by Sylvia Hughes, Service Manager and Donna Moore, Deputy Service Manager for her above and beyond commitment, and not least for being the ‘main stay’ of St Paul’s during recent years with a number of changes in personnel.  She’s the absolute ‘go to’ person and until Sylvia and Donna came on board, ‘owned’ their respective responsibilities. 

“Karen has been the kindest most supportive admin person I have ever had the privilege to work with.  She is often taking time out of her own roles and responsibilities to support all the staff in the home and also gets to know the sisters we care for personally which I have not found in an admin person before. She is always running around supporting everyone. 

She is the oracle of knowledge, incredibly supportive both personally and professionally and in a service like St Paul’s is a breath of fresh air.   She absolutely goes the extra mile (well more like marathon) to support everyone with patience, perseverance and passion.”

Well done and thank you to Karen.

SJOG signs Time to Change Pledge 

SJOG has taken another step in supporting our colleagues' mental health with the signing of the Time to Change Pledge.

The Time to Change Pledge commits SJOG and our 600 colleagues to ensuring that we provide a safe environment where mental health can be discussed openly without fear of discrimination. The pledge is not just a promise, but builds on the work that has been undertaken through training and developing Mental Health First Aiders and launched Bright Line with funding from BUPA – a dedicated confidential line provided by SJOG and run by our colleagues to offer signposting, advice and a friendly ear should people feel in crisis with their mental health. 

SJOG already facilitates access to mental health counsellors and the next step is the development of a supportive mental health network within SJOG.  

Paul Bott, Chief Executive of SJOG said, “With our core values of Hospitality, Compassion and Respect, it is only right that we support all of our colleagues, and both their mental and physical health.  We know it can be hard to talk about mental health, but we want to encourage people to feel asking for help is seen as a sign of strength and not of weakness.   We want to help to end mental health discrimination and are therefore very proud to sign up to the Time to Change Employer Pledge.” 

Time to Change is led by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness. 


SJOG shortlisted for ‘Charity of the Year’ in national award

The National Third Sector Excellence awards recognise the achievements of charities, voluntary organisations and social enterprises. SJOG has been recognised in four categories including the prestigious ‘Charity of the Year’:

  • Finance Team of the Year
  • Fundraising Team of the Year
  • Charity Chief Executive
  • Charity of the Year

We’re really pleased that the hard work of all of our colleagues over the past year has been recognised. To be shortlisted in one category would have been great, to be shortlisted in four (no other charity has more nominations) just goes to show the talent and dedication we have at SJOG.

The other charities and individuals named in the awards are an impressive bunch, with many household names. It’s an illustrious group to be a part of and to be picked out as a charity that is doing really good work is fantastic.

The awards will be announced over a two-day virtual event on the 7th and 8th of October.

Salvation Army and SJOG Working Together

Salvation Army and SJOG working together to support slavery victims through new five-year government contract

The Salvation Army has announced the appointment of SJOG as a specialist partner who will provide support to victims of modern slavery in England and Wales through the Government’s new Modern Slavery Victim Care Contract (MSVCC). 

The Salvation Army and SJOG have worked together since 2011. This new contract will enable them to build on the relationships and expertise developed to further help survivors of slavery as they begin to recover and move on with their lives.

Major Kathy Betteridge, Director of Anti Trafficking and Modern Slavery for The Salvation Army in the United Kingdom Territory with the Republic of Ireland, said:  “We are pleased to welcome SJOG, who have played a key role in helping us to support thousands of victims of modern slavery as they rebuild their lives, bringing important expertise and a shared passion to change the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

One British man supported by SJOG having been forced by a criminal gang into delivering drugs by threats of violence against him and his family said: “Throughout my time with St John of God on occasion I felt down and sad and instantly one of the team would cheer me up and make me think positively. Every day you help innocent people rebuild their lives.. Amazing people. Amazing service.”

For more information, visit and

SJOG awarded ‘Change Project of the Year’ Award

SJOG awarded ‘Change Project of the Year’ at the National Charity Times Awards

SJOG won the award because of the transformation from barely surviving to being a thriving, growing charity.

Award judges praised the significant cultural and systemic changes that have occurred over the past 2 years, and singled out Paul Bott, SJOG’s Chief Executive, for involving colleagues on the frontline in the change, and his ability to manage change effectively through good leadership.

The trustees appointed Paul in 2018, and on his arrival he appointed a new senior team, who together have transformed the charity by engaging front line colleagues, and giving them the tools they needed to solve the challenges that the charity faced.

The success has seen the organisation being clearer about its purpose and being more supportive of each colleague in the charity so that they can better support the people that we are here to serve. This has led to a 20% growth in both reach and income over the past year, and has developed the financial viability of the charity.

Paul said, “It’s great that the excellent work of all of SJOG’s colleagues has been recognised in these prestigious national awards. It’s a testimony to their hard work, and they have worked very hard indeed, striving to be of more help to the people that we are here to serve. We’ve made a really good start.”

Paul Forster-Jones, Trustee of SJOG said, “Hearty congratulations, this is richly deserved, entirely appropriate and a fitting recognition of a magnificent transformation. I’m hugely proud to be a small part of such a noble and high performing charity and I know I’m not alone.”

Care Work Hit By Immigration Changes

Article reproduced by kind permission of Ellen Teague and The Tablet:

The majority of vacant positions in care work are classed as low-skill - and therefore will not be open to many migrants.

“There needs to be a new political and financial settlement for care homes and domiciliary care which recognises the commitment and vocation of carers," according to Philip McCarthy, Director of the Caritas Social Action Network (CSAN). “The pandemic has shown just how much we rely on people to do this essential, but often unsung, work,” he told The Tablet this week, “and over the last months care workers have risked their own health and that of their families”. His hope is, "that the Government and employers will invest in the skills of care workers so that we can build a care system to be proud of.” 

A new healthcare visa was announced by the government on 13 July, to be granted to NHS workers but not to social care workers. It will be within a new points-based immigration system which comes into force from 1 January next year when freedom of movement with the EU ends. The new system, says Home Secretary Priti Patel, will allow the UK to "attract the best and brightest from around the world". Frontline care home workers and contractors are excluded, and a minimum salary threshold means that many cleaners, porters and support staff will not qualify. People overseas will not be eligible to apply for a visa to undertake so-called ‘low-skilled’ work, including in social care settings. 

Mark Wiggin, Director of Caritas Salford, has highlighted the situation of existing staff already here on low wages, such as a refugee who wants to bring their family over to join them under the visa scheme. “Currently there is a minimum income requirement of £18,600 plus £3,800 for the first child and then £2,400 for the next child” said Mr Wiggin; “so if you want to bring your two children in addition to your wife you need an extra £6,200, giving you a total income of £24,800”. He pointed out that, “the current government minimum income requirement would effectively prevent a family reunion taking place for low paid workers”. 

Although residential care providers currently rely greatly on EU nationals to fill vacancies, the government feels that immigration is not the answer to the challenges in the social care sector. The majority of vacant positions will not be filled from immigration as these workers are not classed as skilled - and they're not eligible for the rebranded NHS and care workers fast track visa. Care workers won't be able to apply for a care-specific visa.

Paul Bott, chief executive of SJOG Hospitaller Services, a member of CSAN whose work includes residential care homes, told The Tablet this week he too would like more recognition of care workers of all nationalities. His organisation works in 35 communities across England, and employs 500 people, 63 of whom are non-UK nationals. “Whilst that’s just over 10%,” he said, “these colleagues are primarily focussed in London and the south-east, in our homeless service in Euston and our services that support people who have been trafficked or subject to modern slavery”. He told The Tablet that the diversity of languages spoken by staff is valued as many clients come from Eastern Europe and other regions prone to human trafficking. “We have some experienced people with specialist knowledge that can’t be replaced quickly or easily,” he reported, “and it is clear that for a period of time the level of knowledge and skills in key services will be less than it is now.” Training will be a priority.

The UK government is encouraging employers to invest in workers from within the UK, and Mr Bott reported that “At this point, we are not expecting there to be any workforce recruitment issues for us because of the recession we are facing, where we’ll see more people becoming unemployed”. He told The Tablet that the pool of potential workers for social care projects is likely to be greater post-Covid, reflecting that, “It’s sad that we need to wait for the economy to struggle before we can fully staff though.”


Andrew enjoys a taste of his outreach service again

In recent months, due to the restrictions put in place to tackle COVID-19, many of the people we support have had to stop outreach services and actiivities which were both enjoyable and part of their weekly routine. Andrew from Brentwood, our supported living service in Leyburn found himself unable to go to Chopsticks, an outreach service dedicated to giving people with disabilities opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have.  He really missed the interaction opportunities the service provides.

Recently however, Andrew was overjoyed by a visit from the Chopsticks’ team.  He was delighted to see them and he also received some craft supplies for activities to do at home.  

Andrew will hopefully be back at Chopsticks soon enough, however, in the meantime, we are glad he can still access their activities and support while at home at Brentwood.

Thank you to Chopsticks for their support!

Richard leads the vocals

Five of the people we support in our services in Enfield have taken part in the Sing Out Choir with a unique and wonderful cover of the Beatles’ Hey Jude, with SJOG’s Richard Armstrong leading the vocals.  Sing Out Choir is an inclusive choir for adults on the autism spectrum or with a learning difficulty, based in Enfield, North London. Not all members have access to the internet, so home visits were made to record all their choir members singing at their doorsteps to feel connected again. “The feeling of shared excitement has kept many of us going over the past weeks.  We strongly believe singing is one of the best ways to feel relationship and feel socially connected to each other. Sing Out Choir members deserve recognition for their incredible efforts and optimism at the saddest of times, despite needing to shield at home for months.” Camilla Farrant, Choir Director

Click here to listen:

New SJOG team in Brighton supports victims of trafficking

SJOG’s work to reach more people who are victims of modern day slavery and trafficking continues with the opening of a new service in Brighton, and continues our partnership with The Salvation Army. The team working over three houses will provide care and support to help the recovery of those who have suffered extreme psychological trauma as a result of modern day slavery or trafficking.

Best wishes to them all and welcome to the SJOG family.

Photo shows from left to right:

Fabrice Akpro - Project Worker, Bianca Guerra - Bank Project Worker,  Kasia Lois - Team Leader, Miguel Neves – National Lead Homeless and Modern Day Slavery Services,  Sarah Mutesi – Bank Project Worker,  Giovanna Cabral – Project Worker

Goodbye Fred - you'll be missed

SJOG’s service, Lindisfarne Court in Darlington, has lost a long-standing resident of the home – Fred (Freddie) Nicholson.  Fred had been at Lindisfarne since it opened 28 years ago, in 1992.  He will be missed massively.  Fred was 86 and had been poorly for just a few days.  He knew that he was on end of life care and his wish was to be at home at Lindisfarne to be with his SJOG family.  The team made every effort to carry out his wish but alas Fred was too weak to come home. He had time with the people who had supported him for so many years at SJOG, together with his sister, and was in peace as he passed.

Fred’s death was not Covid-19 related, but strict visitor restrictions due to the virus were in place throughout the hospital meaning not all of the staff team were able to see Fred during his final days in person but managed to do so using FaceTime.  The outpouring of love from everyone at Lindisfarne was very evident and we are sure that Fred knew how much he meant to the entire team and all the other residents who he shared his home with.

Fred loved daffodils and in his memory, Lindisfarne was duly decorated with daffodil art in honour of him.

Rest in peace Fred.

Donation Funds Remote Assistance Model

People who are street homelessness and victims of modern day slavery have been particularly affected by the implications of Covid-19. 

To meet their needs during this time of social distancing - and help them move on to more stable independent living - we’ve had to think differently about how we provide support, and thanks to funding provided from the City Bridge Trust (part of the London Funders Network) we are now delivering our innovative ‘Remote Assistance Model’.

RAM will see the introduction of tablets and other items of everyday technology to our London-based safe houses, allowing us to keep in touch with each person we support, face to face, but remotely. The quality of support is maintained but the risk of infection to the people we support, and our colleagues providing the support is reduced. 

This further step into digital health provision, and the use of secure videoconferencing with partner organisations, including the NHS, will also enable us to continue to support people with the treatment of their infectious diseases like TB. 

We think this is an exciting step, and will be closely monitoring the impact of this new approach on both the outcomes of the people we support and the operational benefit it brings, with an aim of replicating this model across the country.  

#ClapforCarers at SJOG’s Service in Leyburn

Last night (Thurs 30 Apr) the local fire brigade in Leyburn, North Yorkshire, arrived at Brentwood our supported living service, to clap for carers. Well done and thank you to everyone across our services and to all key workers across the country.

Alex and Brendon make headlines in the Telegraph & Argus

Not only have Alex and Brendon been raising money as part of the 2.6 Challenge they have also been making headlines and appeared in the Telegraph and Argus today [Tuesday 28 April].  Article reproduced below courtesy of Tim Quantrill, Chief Reporter of the Telegraph & Argus:

Bradford people have been pulling out all the stops to help raise funds for charity in their own 2.6 challenges.

There are many events taking place as part of the 2.6 Challenge to raise vital funds to help to support the UK’s charities in these difficult times. Events are taking place to replace what would have been the London Marathon last Sunday, April 26. The activities had to be based around the number 26 or 2.6 - the former is the length of the marathon in miles.

Among those taking part were service clients of Bradford Supported Living with Saint John of God (SJOG) based in Clayton, Bradford. SJOG is a charity who supports adults with physical and learning disabilities to live as independently as possible in the community.

Their aim is to wash 26 cars in six days and raise at least £260.

Service manager Michella Sunderland said: "We have two tenants that live at the home who are completing this with the help of staff.

"We are going to be doing this daily until next Saturday. If we reach the 26 car limit and there are still cars that need washing we will wash them to help raise as much money as we can for SJOG who are a registered charity."

They had raised £122 by washing cars on the first two days and Michella added: "It's going really well. It's keeping people busy and motivated.”

Online article at:

Alex and Brendon take up the 2.6 Challenge!

Alex and Brendon of SJOG’s Bradford Supported Living have come up with a great initiative to be part of the 2.6 Challenge!  They are going to wash 26 cars over 7 days - Sunday 26 April to Saturday 2 May from their home at Oakleigh Road in Bradford.  

People are invited to book a slot by calling 01274 889079 or 07950 840956.  And to keep everyone safe they can leave their car safely on the drive and watch from the wall of the garden or leave their car and return in 30 minutes - to find a shiny clean car on their return.

There will be a donation bucket on the drive or people can give via SJOG’s Just Giving page at:

More information can be found at:

Taking on the 2.6 Challenge

The 2.6 Challenge is a UK-wide fundraising event taking place from 26 April 2020.   This date should have been the London Marathon, one of the world's biggest one-day annual fundraising events. The 2.6 challenge is designed to help charities continue being there for the people and causes they exist for, by doing something fun and creative in a socially responsible way.

No matter your age, ability or talents there are so many ways to get involved:

  • Set yourself an activity based around the number 2.6 or 26*
  • Head to to donate £26 – or whatever you can afford ­– to Saint John of God Hospitaller Services or to set up your own JustGiving fundraising page
  • Share a photo or video of your challenge on social media with #TwoPointSixChallenge and tag SJOG so we can celebrate too!

*The only requirement is that you must follow Government guidelines on exercise and social distancing.

For more information to to:

Please support SJOG and help us to meet more need: more people who are homeless, more people who have been trafficked or victims of modern day slavery, more older communities and more people with physical and learning disabilities.  We are ambitious to be of more help to more people. Please support us.

Thank you.

We’re in this together

Every day we see, hear or experience some of the real positives happening during this unprecedented period of social isolation and dealing with a world pandemic. Not least is how people and communities are working together.  “Today [17 April 2020] our care home in Leeds – Terry Yorath House, which is home to 12 people, received a supply of face masks supplied by some Chinese students from the University of Leeds.  This isn’t the first time and today we received another 200.  We are so grateful!”  Anthony Beech, Service Manager.

We have different mountains and rivers but we share the same sun, moon and sky.



Proud to work for SJOG

I'm Emma Porritt, Deputy Operations Manager in the North and started my journey with SJOG and in health and social care in 1998, and I have been part of the roller coaster of health and social care since then, both as a support worker and a manager.  I have been part of and witnessed some amazing events hat have changed people’s lives for the better or have just supported people through some really tough times. I have always known the people we support are special and they have never ceased to amaze me with their pure lust for life.   I have witnessed our people be told ‘no' or ‘you can’t do that because …..’  Do they listen? No they do not!  With the help from our amazing support staff they will always achieve what they set out to do even if it looks a little different than first expected.

Over the past few weeks [since the outbreak of Coronavirus] I have been lucky enough to watch our support teams in action, work alongside them, chat to them and watch as they do the most unbelievable and very often un-thanked tasks for the most at risk in our society.

In the background, the support services are also doing their bit to keep everyone safe and make sure we can continue to deliver a high-quality service to people and for that I am thankful that we have a management team that cares.  But back to the front line ..

SJOG is not like other organisations (that’s my opinion and if you know me you’ll know I am right ).  The LOVED (living our values every day) programme is at the present time key to all we are doing.  I have always known our support teams were good but I have never witnessed commitment from support workers that I am seeing at the moment and in my 22 years with SJOG this is the proudest I have ever felt to call myself a member of SJOG.

So to you front line staff keep doing what you are doing because you are truly special people, whom we all could not be prouder of.

Homeless and sick. Now what?

Homeless and sick. Now what? This was the headline of the article that appeared in UCLH’s (University College London Hospitals) February issue of their newsletter, addressing the huge issue homeless people face, particularly those rough sleeping.  SJOG’s service at Olallo House features in the article in terms of their close partnership working alongside UCLH, Camden Clinical Commissioning Group, Camden Health Improvement Practice and Camben Council to provide a pathway of care for homeless people when they are discharged from hospital.

Click here to read the full article:

Photo shows colleagues from the Pathway Team including SJOG’s Pawel Zabielski, Service Manager at Olallo House (back) and Miguel Neves, National Lead for Homelessness and Modern Day Slavery (right)

Dalby Celebrates its Good CQC Rating

Our colleagues and people we support at Dalby View celebrated the overall ‘Good’ rating from their recent CQC inspection with a particularly well-decorated cake, made by the newest member of the staff team, Jodie Brodie-Myers.  

‘Good’ was achieved in all five areas that look at: is the service safe, effective, caring, responsive and well-led.

Dalby View in Coulby Newham, Middlesbrough is one of SJOG’s services in the North East and supports people with physical disabilities who require 24-hour support.

We’re guessing the cake didn’t last too long.  Well done everyone at Dalby View!

Community Kickstart Programme Launched

SJOG has been awarded funding from BUPA UK Foundation to deliver a confidence and well-being programme for people aged between 30 and 50.

‘Community Kickstart’ is specifically designed for people aged between 30 – 50 who are feeling ‘in a bit of a rut’, and is based in Woodhall Community Centre in the Peartree Ward of Welwyn Garden City and is free to attend.  It teaches positive thinking, developing self-confidence, being assertive and setting goals for the future. It enables people to develop ‘Bigger, Bolder, Brighter Life plans.’ We hope that people make friends along the way too.

Starting in March 2020, the programme is delivered over four half days and people can enrol anytime in the next twelve months.

If you are interested and would like to find out more, please email:

UNISON’S End Violence at Work Charter

SJOG has signed up to the Unison End Violence at Work Charter.

We recognise that our colleagues work with people who can express themselves physically, even aggressively. Our work in supporting people should not place our colleagues at risk of violence.
UNISON surveys of people working in the community sector consistently find that almost half have experienced an incident of violence or aggression at work. UNISON believes that violence must not be part of the job.

We’ve been working with UNISON to ensure that we have monitoring, support, safeguards and training in place to protect our colleagues, and with UNISON we agree that these are measures that every employer should be able to deliver.

Paul Bott, SJOG's Chief Executive commented, “To qualify for the UNISON Violence at Work Charter mark we had to meet standards that show that we are serious about protecting colleagues from being assaulted as they carry out their work.

AT SJOG we work with people who are on the edge of society. We have fantastic colleagues who work with compassion and hospitality in difficult situations, but it’s important that in helping others they do not put themselves in harm’s way. This charter mark highlights that we have the structures, the support and the training in place to safeguard our colleagues.” 

Dalby’s New Fire Warden

“I’m very excited to be taking an active role in the fire safety at Dalby View.”  David who lives at our residential care service at Dalby View near Middlesbrough has recently completed his training and is now fully competent in maintaining a safe environment for all at Dalby.

David ‘s responsibilities include completing weekly checks for emergency lighting and the fire alarm, and daily checks that fire exits are clear, as well as taking part in regular fire drills.

“Fire safety is something we should all take very seriously!   I will do my best to ensure that everyone is safe and offer suggestions to ways in which it could be improved.”

Olallo House re-opens

Seven months ago, Olallo House, where we provide services for people who are homeless or who are victims of trafficking or modern day slavery, was flooded as a result of a burst mains water pipe.  Everyone had to evacuate the building and 33 people for whom Olallo was their home were accommodated and supported in local hotels. During this time the building has undergone repair and a substantial renovation, taking advantage of the building being empty.

This week saw the re-opening of Olallo and people returning to a much-enhanced living environment conducive to them re-building their lives.  There are many people we are grateful for making this happen and not least our colleagues and volunteers at Olallo who have worked so very hard from the date of the flood on 8 June to now, mid January.  Olallo House is ready again to be part of transforming the lives and care outcomes of some of the most vulnerable people in London and beyond.  

A celebration of the opening took place on 23 January giving supporters and funders an opportunity to see for themselves the building's transformation.

Our latest GEM (going the extra mile) award

SJOG's GEM awards were launched last year as a way of acknowledging and saying thank you to our colleagues for going the extra mile in the work that they do.  We award them each quarter and the  hard decision is made by a ‘GEM panel’ represented by all areas of the charity.  We had nominations for a number of people and all were so very deserving.  It was however Diane Akers who won December’s award.  Diane works in our Intensive Housing Management Service in Enfield which provides support to people to enable them to manage their tenancy and live independently.

This is Diane’s story as told by her manager: “Diane, when visiting a person we support with housing, discovered the gentleman in a very poorly state due to not receiving his support from care providers.

Diane visited to carry out a health and safety inspection and was concerned that there was no response from the property.  Instead of leaving, Diane had a gut feeling and made extra effort to see if the gentleman was in the property.   She managed to gain entry to find the gentlemen showing signs of hypothermia, was becoming incoherent and was sitting smoking in an extremely drowsy state. This gentleman had been without electricity and gas for 2 weeks and had been sitting wrapped in a duvet.

The gentleman had been in hospital after a fall but had no recollection of where, or how he ended up in hospital, which hospital or for how long he was there.  He had no food in his home.  Diane left and brought 2 thermos flasks, filled one with coffee and one with soup and returned to stay with the gentleman.  She also sorted out his electricity.  

After finishing work and making sure her children were looked after, returned to perform a welfare check on him.

If it had not been for Diane’s actions, I believe we would have been dealing with an avoidable death.

Diane went over and beyond the expectation, and showed all of SJOG’s values.  I have met the gentleman since the incident and his appreciation and thanks cannot be understated.  He fully understood that Diane’s intervention was vital.”

A big thank you to John Lewis..

.. for making Christmas very special for some of the people we support in our supported living services in Hertfordshire and Enfield.  SJOG’s housing management team was contacted by John Lewis to ask whether they would like a Christmas feast and party providing for the people we support.  The answer was of course, ‘yes please’. 

People enjoyed a three-course meal and drinks – food by Waitrose, cooked and served by staff from John Lewis - in the banquet hall in the local John Lewis store.

For some of the people we support who live independently in supported tenancies, this may be their only Christmas dinner and a real highlight of the year, particularly for those who do not have any family to spend the Christmas period with. 

John Lewis’s generosity extended to giving a Christmas tree, lights, decorations and games.  It was a very special day and really did “give a little more love this Christmas.”

New Apprentice at SJOG’s Head Office

Robert Mooney has recently joined SJOG in a new role for the charity: junior content producer.  A large focus on Robert’s role will be around our social media presence and producing videos to provide more accessible information for the people we support.

Robert has studied journalism at Leeds Trinity University, focusing on two major pieces of work, including his public affairs portfolio and dissertation on issues around neurological and developmental conditions. These projects have given him the grounding for some of the work he hopes to get involved with at SJOG.

For many years, Robert has had an interest in content and media but also social and political issues. As a social issues correspondent for Shout Out UK, an independent news network and political literacy training provider, working for a charity which helps people who need support was important to him. While at Shout Out UK, Robert wrote about topics from zero-hours contracts to the challenges of higher education for those with disabilities. 

“Having volunteered for a number of years, including as a member of Flying High, a group of young people with disabilities representing others in North Yorkshire similar to them, and also having epilepsy and hydrocephalus myself, I have a keen interest in the charity and its aims. Having previously been a team leader for vInspired (an independent charity dedicated to helping young people volunteer in their local communities), campaigning on a number of social issues, I am pleased to be bringing these experiences to a new role at SJOG.  I’m looking forward to contributing positively to SJOG and working independently carrying on what I’ve done at Flying High in recent months and standing up for the voices of those we support through my role as junior content producer.”

Celebrating International Volunteers Day

5 December 2019 is International Volunteers Day, and not only are we acknowledging all the wonderful volunteers we have working throughout our services, we're appealing for more. Staff from our Enfield services attended a local event celebrating how valuable volunteers are, especially for charities and care organisations, and letting people know about the wide range of volunteering opportunities we have at SJOG - from supporting people with activities to hosting a health drop in, helping with IT or helping out in local offices with administration. Or if you like the outdoors, our community gardening project in Welwyn Garden City is the perfect place.  For more information go to the volunteering section of our website or call 01325 373700.

Christmas has arrived at Digswell!

Digswell Community and Gardening Project in Welwyn Garden City is a unique space in Hertfordshire that provides people with opportunities in both garden related activities and social resources in the community. If you're local it's definitely the place to buy your Christmas tree and other lovely Christmas gifts. Digswell's Facebook page has lots more information 



"I saw myself in that container"

The death last month of 39 Vietnamese people in a truck that was trafficking them into the UK had particular resonance within SJOG.  Our services for victims of trafficking and modern day slavery across the country include a specific service in the north east for Vietnamese people.  All but one currently living in the house arrived here in the UK in a similar way – in a container lorry.

Some of the people in the service wanted to share their stories and working with our partners at the Salvation Army we’ve enabled this to happened.

Mr Nam (not his real name) told his story to journalist, Zoe Conway, which appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme on 5 November.   His story can be heard at: until 3 December 2019; (starting at 2.39 and finishing at 2.46). Available until 3 December 2019.

Mr Nam, a young man in his early 20s, desperate for money, turned to a gang for help. The result was a harrowing journey in the confines of a box that took him from Vietnam to the Netherlands where he was put to work on a cannabis farm. After a year, he was then taken by the gang, transported once more in a container, to the UK, again having to work on cannabis farm, working sometimes more than 18 hours a day.  He eventually escaped and was cared for by the Salvation Army and is now supported by SJOG where he is beginning to rebuild his life.

Halloween Haunts at SJOG

Pictures speak louder than words and definitely so at Halloween.  Thankfully there was no competition as to the scariest outfit, spookiest decorations and spectacular pumpkins as there were too many to choose from, but without doubt, many of the people we support and who work for SJOG had a great time making Halloween special.

SJOG Marks Anti-Slavery Day - 18 October

On Anti- Slavery Day – 18 October, representatives of SJOG were invited to increase awareness in one of the local HSBC branches. Miguel Neves, National Lead for Homelessness and Modern Day Slavery and Pawel Zabielski, Service Manager – Olallo House, had the opportunity to speak about modern day slavery, SJOG’s modern day slavery and homelessness services and the legacy of Saint John of God with the staff and the bank’s customers. Why HSBC? Prior to HSBC’s Survivors’ Champions Scheme, the process to open bank accounts by people who had been trafficked was almost impossible, especially without ID. Even with ID and supporting letters, some banks were still refusing the accounts.

A guest we supported in our safe houses, was one of the very first HSBC customer taking part in the piloting programme. We had tried for many months to support this person to open a bank account to enable him to receive income from the Job Centre. When HSBC started the pilot and we approached them, there was a lot of kindness and openness from the staff.  The process had some challenges and barriers but there was a lot of willingness from the HSBC staff to overcome any issues.  One day the person returned to hostel with a huge smile on their face and said “Finally! We did it! We opened the bank account.”

Since HSBC has piloted the survivors accounts, many of our guests have been opening accounts with them, with little if any issues, and with a great cooperation between HSBC Champions and SJOG staff. This had a huge impact on our guests’ recoveries. Even, if some do not have any income, they are happy that they have a bank account as a member of our modern society. 

HSBC has also reviewed and rewrite their policies to include the individuals with NFA (No Fix Abode)

HSBC is the champion not only providing the services to the survivors but also to an underserved population.   Pawel Zabielski, Service Manager, Olallo House - SJOG

SJOG Nurse Nominated for Lifetime Achievement in Care Award

Rose Hayes, a registered nurse at Henry Nihill House has been selected for the final for the Lifetime Achievement in Care category in the National Care Awards 2019.  Rose has been a nurse for over 50 years and at Henry Nihill House for 34 years.   

Commendations about Rose have been numerous and much deserved, and can be best summed up by the Rt. Revd. Dame Mary Therese Zelent, Mother Abbess of the Community of St Mary at the Cross: “As a colleague working alongside us, we have great admiration and respect for Rose, for her knowledge and professional skills, and her calming manner, and absolute loyalty. To this day Rose is dedicated and committed in her care of our residents to enhance the quality of their lives, a good friend and loyal colleague.”

Henry Nihill House is a registered nursing home for older people which SJOG manages on behalf of the Community of St Mary of the Cross.

This isn’t the first time Rose has been recognised for her achievements – in 2013 the London Borough of Barnet presented Rose with an Excellent Care Award, in appreciation of her dedication and professionalism.

All finalists will meet with two independent judges for each category on 11th October at the Awards’ Judging Day at the Hilton London Metropole. And winners will be presented with their trophies at the high profile Gala Night held on Friday 29th November at the Hilton London Metropole attended by over 700 guests.  Well done Rose and good luck on the 11th.

Recognising those who Go the Extra Mile

There are lots of occasions when we see our colleagues go that extra mile for the people we support and we wanted a way to acknowledge this and to say thank you.  In September at our staff conference we made our first GEM awards.  The first of these went to Bernie Concadoro.  Bernie works at SJOG’s Resource Centre in Enfield, which provides a range of day services within the centre itself and out in the community that enable people we support to enjoy activities and leisure outings they enjoy.   Bernie was nominated for the award by Laurence Lévy, Operations Manager for “not just going the extra mile, but for going the extra marathon and for her outstanding and longstanding commitment to the service, for doing all she does without the need to be asked and her passion to make sure the service we give to the people we support is the best it can be.”  It was a truly well-deserved award and received most humbly by Bernie who acknowledged that, ‘she was not alone’ in giving a whole-hearted commitment to the service. 

The Big Idea

Over 100 colleagues from across SJOG came together to work on a series of Big Ideas.   

The gathering was led by Dr Jamie Mackrill, SJOG’s Director of Opportunities and Kate Ainscough from Freestyle Innovation. The theme of the day was Bigger, Bolder, Brighter and set the challenge to 12 groups to find ways that SJOG could be of more use to more people by being cleverer about the way we currently deliver services, or through new bold initiatives.

Jamie said that, “Lots of great ideas were generated on the day and we’ll be working over the coming weeks to develop these ideas through to implementation.”

But the last word has to go to Kate who said on twitter @AinscoughKate, “So I laughed and I cried today. Thank you @Jamiemackrill1 @paulbottsjogfor having me. Your team and their work is amazing. L.O.V.E.D.”

Enjoying a new activity

When the people who we support in our service in Coulby Newham put on their ‘ideas board’ that they wanted to go swimming recently, SJOG support team, together with the staff from the local leisure centre, made it happen.  This required some forward planning to accommodate Alan’s, Emma’s and David’s needs but it was well worth it.  They had an amazing time and have been again several times since.  Support teams in our residential and supported living services are continually encouraging people to come up with ideas that could improve their lives and make them happy.  These ideas are put on an ‘ideas board’ in each service, and wherever possible, we like to make it happen for people.  

Reflecting on SJOG

Nine months have passed since the appointment of an entirely new executive team at SJOG. During this time the charity has enjoyed a period of growth and renewal.  “We’ve refocused, rebranded, and restructured the organisation. We have a good plan and good people delivering on it.”  Paul Bott, Chief Executive.

Recruitment of the team was done with the help of UNW’s Strategic Talent service.  Peter Neal and Laura Dean from UNW visited the SJOG’s offices in Darlington recently to reflect on the recruitment process and the success of the team. 

Click here to view UNW’s news article:

Photo shows: left to right (back): Peter Neal - UNW, Lisa Alcorn - Chief Operating Officer, Paul Bott – Chief Executive, (front): Leanne Welford -Chief Finance Officer, Laura Dean - UNW

SJOG welcomes new trustees to its board

SJOG is pleased to welcome three new trustees to its board: Lesley Selfe brings a wealth of experience from a health background being a former director of nursing at NHS Direct and currently a special advisor to the Care Quality Commission;  Paul Forster-Jones comes with a background of working at senior levels of multi-million pound organisations in pharma and private equity-backed organisations; and Emma Gibbons is currently the deputy director of finance and commercial with Public Health England.  We are very much looking forward to working with them and having the extra breadth of skills and knowledge on our board.

(Photo left to right: Emma Gibbons, Lesley Selfe and Paul Forster-Jones)

Princess Eugenie hears stories of modern day slavery  

Princess Eugenie invited four people supported by SJOG to Buckingham Palace so that they could share their experiences of being subject to modern day slavery. Each spoke with great courage and sincerity about their experience of modern day slavery to an audience that listened in silence.

Also present for a wide ranging discussion were representatives from SJOG, the Salvation Army, Medaille Trust, the US Ambassador-at-large for combatting Trafficking in Persons, and Julia de Boinville; with whom Princess Eugenie founded the Anti-Slavery Collective to fight modern slavery by supporting women and children.

SJOG has a growing reputation for delivering services to people who have been subject to modern day slavery with five new services established through a partnership with the Salvation Army.

21 million people wake up to a day of modern day slavery

Today, 30 July, is the UN World Day Against Trafficking in Persons. Human trafficking affects every region of the world and the UN states that 21 million people are waking up today as modern slaves.

The UN special rapporteur noted in her latest report that trafficked people can be women, girls, men and boys, However, whilst the number of men trafficked has significantly increased over the past 10 years, women and girls still make up 72% of those detected.

There has also been an increase in the percentage of child victims, which has more than doubled from 2004 to 2016, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Most are trafficked for sexual exploitation; victims are also trafficked for forced labour, recruitment as child soldiers and other forms of exploitation and abuse.

Traffickers prey on the vulnerable and people in poverty who are offered transport to jobs so that they can send money home, when they arrive there is work but they are told they must repay the travel costs, pay for their food, and board, and tools and clothes, and then there is no money left.

“The UN Sustainable Development Goals include clear targets to prevent abuse and exploitation, to eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls, and to eradicate forced labour and child labour. On this World Day against Trafficking in Persons, let us reaffirm our commitment to stop criminals from ruthlessly exploiting people for profit and help victims rebuild their lives.” UN Secretary General.

SJOG is working with the Salvation Army to provide safe houses around the country to support people who have been subject to modern day slavery to build a positive future.

Video produced by International Labour Organisation

New service in Birmingham supports victims of trafficking

SJOG’s work to reach more people who are victims of modern day slavery and trafficking continues with the opening of a new service in Birmingham.  This service offers care and support to help the recovery of those who have suffered extreme psychological trauma as a result of modern day slavery or trafficking.

Saint John of God Week 17-23 June 2019

Saint John of God Week serves to celebrate our founder and lets us focus on how the values, Hospitality, Compassion, Justice, Respect and Trust, are present in our work today. Staff teams provided us with many great stories and photographs from within our services throughout the country to evidence how we live our values every day.

Click here to see these stories and photographs.

Lingfield Point welcomes charity's national HQ

SJOG has taken an office at Yarn at Lingfield Point, Darlington, where 26 of our staff will be based.

Lingfield Point was chosen because it offers a modern office space for the team here who support our services and the 570 staff we have nationwide. The flexibility offers the opportunity to grow as the charity continues to expand its work. The quality and location are fantastic and were all factors in deciding to base our head office here. The open plan layout means all departments can sit together, have conversations and swap ideas more readily.

The team at Lingfield Point could not have been more helpful in getting the offices ready for us to move in to and we look forward to this being a great home.  

Eddie Humphries, Estate Manager at Lingfield Point, said, “We love to welcome new people to Lingfield Point but it’s clear from the start that SJOG will be very special. The work it does is fantastic and the charity is growing and thriving due to the tremendous need for its services. We will be proud to support SJOG in any way we can.”  

*Lingfield Point is a 90 acre business park in the heart of Darlington, home to large companies as well as smaller businesses and start-ups with more than 3,000 workers based there.

SJOG continues to grow

SJOG’s work to reach more people who are victims of modern day slavery and trafficking continues to develop with the opening of a 5-bedded safe-house in Hounslow.  This service will offer accommodation and therapeutic support to help the recovery of people, predominantly women, who are suffering from mental health issues and/or PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) as a result of homelessness, modern day slavery or trafficking.

New Grants and Trusts Fundraiser for SJOG

Emma Frew has over 20 years of experience at a senior level in the charitable sector working with community projects and social enterprises. Her MBA research undertaken in 2006 focussed on ‘The charitable sector in times of austerity’ and her subsequent work on developing robust services led her to be accepted as a Clore Social Leadership Fellow for the North of England in 2016.

Emma is joining SJOG to further our mission of providing the very best quality opportunities to the people we support. She will do this by working with the various teams across the organisation to provide support in accessing funding to provide services, equipment and new opportunities.

Easter Coffee Morning in West Yorkshire

“We are all so busy but this coffee morning held in our supported living offices in Bradford reminded me that it’s good to take time out and have some fun.”  Michella Sunderland, Service Manager – Bradford Supported Living Services which supports people to live as independently as possible.

“I had fun and loads of chocolate cake, which was nice.  You have to have a bit of fun!”  Alex

“I enjoyed it and I played bingo.” Brendon

“It was good to get all the houses together.” Louise

Judging of the Easter Cake Competition rounded the morning off.  It was difficult decision but the one made at Oakleigh with Alex and Brendon, got the winning vote by SJOG’s chief executive, Paul Bott.

SJOG - meeting more people in need

SJOG has been working tirelessly with other organisations to tackle the obnoxious crime that is modern-day slavery and trafficking.   The charity’s efforts to broaden SJOG’s mission and reach the many more in need, are translated by the opening of another safe house in Middlesbrough in the North East of England, which can accommodate ten people.  This complements the work of Olallo Services in London.  

Olallo Services joined the UK National Referral Mechanism (a process which now is implemented by the 47 countries that signed the European Convention on Anti-Trafficking, which enables individuals after being rescued, to have a place to safely recover) in December 2015 by being one of the twelve sub-contractors of the Salvation Army. Since then, we have supported more than 120 individuals and have been very successful, in part due to the fact that we can connect with the Order’s services worldwide. 

New Service for SJOG

New Service for SJOG

At the beginning of April we began a new partnership with the Salesian Sisters in Oxford and are delighted to welcome our new colleages as we support them in the management of the service at Elmthorpe Convent, which is home for the Community of the Salesian Sisters.  Holistic care and support is to be provided to a number of sisters living in the convent who have varying levels of needs and support requirements.

The staff team of 15 members, including manager, team leaders, carers, housekeeper and cooks, will join the SJOG family, working together, upholding the values of the Salesian Sisters alongside those of SJOG.  We warmly welcome them and look forward to working together, sharing expertise and knowledge, to provide a dedicated and bespoke service to the Salesian Sisters.

The Catholic Times features SJOG’s Olallo House

‘The safe house of hospitality where no one is turned away’, written by Bernadette Kehoe appeared in the weekend's edition (29 March) of The Catholic Times.

Click here to read the full article with kind permission from Bernadette Kehoe and The Catholic Times.

New Role at SJOG - Director of Opportunities

Jamie Mackrill has joined SJOG Hospitaller Services from Vista where he was Director of New Opportunities and most notably lead the development of the £2.4millon 'Work.Live.Leicestershire' programme funding by the National Lottery Community Fund and European Social Fund.

Jamie has a background in design and innovation with a particular focus in healthcare and has worked at Imperial College London and the Royal College of Art. Jamie will concentrate on service design and innovation at SJOG.

Jamie said, “There is great opportunity to be creative in how to do things going forward and I’m looking forward to working with our staff and the people who use our services to deliver innovative services that remain honest to the values and purpose of the charity."

SJOG is seeking new trustees

This is an exciting time for SJOG as it undergoes a period of transformation.  With a new chief executive and leadership team, the charity is now ready to shape its future and develop new ways of delivering its purpose.  Two new trustees are sought to strengthen the board, and to support and stretch the delivery of services and challenge the strategic development of the organisation. In particular, we are looking for individuals with experience in senior strategic leadership, with strong business/commercial acumen and/or expertise in quality and safeguarding within health and social care.  For further information and how to apply, go to:

SJOG Staff Conference

On Monday 4 February 123 of our 540 staff took part in a staff conference which brought people together from each of the services across the country and from every department that works behind the scenes in ‘support services’.

This was the first opportunity that many staff had had to meet all the members of the new Executive Management Team, which included one member, Jamie Mackrill, who is yet to commence in his post as director of opportunities.  (Jamie will officially join SJOG mid-March.)

Paul Bott, Chief Executive said, “I’m glad everyone made the effort to attend as not only did it give us the opportunity to talk to each other, but most importantly to listen and learn from each other.  We’re one organisation and the opportunity to come together to share our successes and challenges is worth the time and money that it takes to bring everyone together.”

Throughout the day there were a number of workshops staff could choose from which included, Enabling Voices, Employee Wellbeing, Self-Compassion, Developing Opportunities, Care Management Systems and IT.

Feedback from the day was extremely positive, and as the photo shows received an overwhelming ‘thumbs-up’.

New Chief Operating Officer at SJOG

Lisa Alcorn has joined SJOG after working at a national level as director of operations. Lisa has over 25 years’ experience of working for charities and the private sector, specialising in autism spectrum conditions, learning disabilities and mental health services. Having been successful in receiving recognition of her contribution to the sector at the BILD International Leadership Awards in 2014 for Innovative Practice, Lisa also completed her Professional Doctorate in The National Integration of a Positive Behaviour Support Practice Framework for Autism Practitioners in 2017. Since then her doctoral framework was successful in achieving the National Learning Disabilities Award for PBS in 2018.

Lisa said, “I am really excited to join the charity at this time as I can see great potential both in terms of the people we support and the people I will have the pleasure to work alongside. I am keen to introduce contemporary practices that not only positively impact on people’s lives but also assists in shaping the charity for the future”.

SJOG has a new chief finance officer

Prior to joining SJOG Leanne, was a European finance director for a global consultancy and training organisation.  Leanne is a MBA qualified chartered accountant with broad financial and management experience gained through working across a wide range of sectors. Leanne has special interest and experience in change management programmes working to strengthen and futureproof organisations. 

Leanne said “I’m excited to be working in such a worthwhile organisation. The services and people have met so far have been inspiring and I am looking forward to working within a talented team to ensure the charity thrives and is able to continue to provide high quality caring services to our users.”  

Celebrating Three 'Good' CQC Ratings

Congratulations to the three services we manage on behalf of other religious orders who achieved overall ratings of ‘good’ following recent Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspections.These are: Villa Maria in Hythe (Marist Sisters), Avila House, Worthing (Sisters of Lady of Sion) and Henry Nihill House, Edgware (The Community of Saint Mary of the Cross)

These are all part of SJOG’s religious services working in partnership with other religious orders and congregations, which was founded to respond to the issues facing many religious orders today particular in relation to the implications of care standards legislation.

This work is underpinned by our commitment to work with each individual order or congregation to maintain the charism and founding ethos of that particular religious organisation.

Photos show the celebration at Henry Nihill House. 

New Chief Executive: Paul Bott

Paul Bott has joined SJOG Hospitaller Services from Vista, the award winning sight loss charity, where he has been chief executive for the past 6 years. Paul was responsible for refocussing the charity and on delivering innovative growth. Paul was shortlisted for the national Charity Times award for rising chief executives in 2016 for his work at Vista.

Paul has 24 years' experience of working for charities, and was previously operations director for the young person’s charity Catch22 and head of adult services at Scope.

Paul said “I’m excited about being part of an organisation with such a strong values base and welcome the opportunity to work with the 600 SJOG Hospitaller Services colleagues across the country to be of more benefit to the people we are here to serve. ”

Brother Donatus, Chair of Trustees said “We are at an important and exciting stage in the evolution of our mission of Hospitality, as responsibility passes increasingly to our lay Hospitallers and colleagues. I wish Paul every success in his role as chief executive officer and I know that in the best tradition of our Hospitaller family that Paul can expect and receive a warm welcome and full cooperation and support.”

October 2018

Fitting tribute to the late Peter Flower

It was with much sadness that we learned of the death of Peter Flower at the age of 90. Peter had been supported by the Hospitaller Order and Hospitaller Services since he moved into Barvin Park on 20 May 1944.  After the closure of Barvin in 1994, a move to enable people to live in their own homes, Peter was supported to live in his own flat in Hatfield.

The following article that appeared in the Welwyn and Hatfield times pays great tribute to Peter:

Lindisfarne Court celebrates OUTSTANDING rating

Amanda Ashdown, the service's manager, said, "We are delighted to have received this outstanding rating. We have a great staff team who work very hard to ensure the people at Lindisfarne get the best possible care and support and we are so pleased to get this recognition.

Some of the features of the inspection included how staff were exceptional in their caring approach to people and relatives, and people who inspectors spoke with told them the staff team were dedicated and wanted the best for people they were caring for.

Debbie Westhead, Deputy Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care in the North said, "This is a service that provides excellent care.  My inspectors commented on how committed the home was to help preserve the privacy and dignity of people who lived in the home. Everyone we spoke with praised the passion and commitment of the registered manager.  The manager and the team demonstrated strong person-centred values and were committed to providing a first class service.

A final word from Craig who lives at Lindisfarne, "I'm so very proud of the staff team and we couldn't have done it without Amanda.  I know that this is an excellent service but it is wonderful to see it in writing from CQC.  I am overjoyed!"

Lindisfarne Court celebrates 25 years of opening

The service is home to thirteen people and is formed by three interlinking bungalows, each one decorated in a particular style to play a part in the Cinderella story.  The planning of the event has taken months with all taking very active parts in making the final event something very special.  Family, friends, colleagues and people from the charity’s services further afield came together on the afternoon of Friday 7 July when, after days of rain, the sun shone.

Barry said, ‘he was very proud and happy people had come to celebrate’.  He also added living at Lindisfarne was ‘very good’.

The service’s first manager Lesley Robinson (left) pictured with current manager, Amanda Ashdown.

“People who live here enjoy a real home environment; they are encouraged to take a lead in the running of their home and to make choices and decisions to lead the lives they choose. We’re very proud to be celebrating 25 years and look forward to the next 25.  We’ve also spent time remembering people who have been part of the service but are no longer with us – they too are a special part of its history.”  Lesley Robinson, Head of Pastoral Care

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