JHC’s journey begun from Itabashi Post on Nakasendo Road (JHC Oyama). Downward along Nakasendo Road to Shimura (JHC Shimura) from which Akatsuka Road (JHC Akatsuka) with autumnal cherry blossoming continued onto Kawagoe Road. (JHC Akizakura, meaning autumnal cherry). The route of our journey was such that a rainbow hung (Residence Niji, meaning rainbow) over a harbor (San Marina) with abundant spring water flowing into it from a fountain (JHC Izumi, meaning a spring/a fountain) and that one could hear the resounding harmony of town’s people (Peer Support Network Center / Harmony).
During the course of our 13 years’ journey, we were incubating a plan for a new journey of adventure in form of establishment of a juristic body incorporated for social and welfare. Our journey with the newly born juristic body started in 1996. It was the road of empowerment which we struggled along to finally arrive at the base point (Community Life Support Center: Space Peer) where the community residents can become partners joining hand in hand so as to explore meaningful life which they have produced for themselves whether with or without disabilities.
(1) Registrants for Service
The registrants for use of JHC Itabashi’s service totals 460, which is broken down by the kind of activities as follows:
|5 Workshops||116 persons|
|3 Nighttime Care Locations||71 persons|
|Club House||100 persons(capacity)|
|Group Home||5 persons|
|Peer Support Network Center||45 persons|
|Social Job Placement Center||27 persons|
90% of these service users represent residents of Itabashi Ward.
Out of the 460 registrants in total, the number of actual users is 313 persons. 147 persons use JHC Itabashi service as well while are already registered with some other facility.
While all the service as a rule requires a registration, except the group home, it is possible to make temporary use of the service for the purpose of a facility tour, trial use, selection of service and resting.
Most of the users have diagnosis of schizophrenia, followed by cases with neurosis. The users’ ages range from 18 and 63 years old, with the average being 42 years old.
(2) Service providers (staffs)
The staff has a total of 75 persons, consisting of 27 full‐time and 48 non-fulltime including 11 consumers. A total of 154 persons provide service with an addition of 79 volunteers who are essential to the program management.
Those 11 consumers out of the staff of 75 persons are among those who are engaged in education extension at various locations throughout the nation after having received training in counseling at the Self-help Centers in Sacrament and San Francisco. Other job categories are: 4 psychiatrists serving as medical advisors, 2 occupational therapists, 7 nurses, 1 clinical psychologist, 8 non-professional assistants and 42 social workers.
All 467 persons, i.e. 313 users, 75 staff members and 79 volunteers, are partners all joining forces in creating a heartwarming, mutually supportive community.
(3) Local characteristics of Itabashi – A treasure chest of support resources
It is essential to the explanation and understanding of the substance of the support activities and the history of its development to introduce the local characteristics as the background of JHC Itabashi’s activities. The JHC Itabashi’s facilities are easily accessible being within several minutes’ walk from stations of private railways and Tokyo Metropolitan Subway System. The opening of these facilities went unopposed from the local residents, which by no means meant their indifference. In fact, they even offered a newly built building for use by the institution and continue providing cooperation and support even after the establishment. It is not merely a coincidence. It can be said that strong power of persuasion became generated out of the activities under Itabashi Ward’s basic concept advanced in partnership with the administration and above all, the posture of collaboration taken through sharing the hopes and aspiration of persons concerned, themselves members of the community.
Our town, Itabashi has as one of characteristics in its history to take in a wide variety of people. Through the Edo Period (1603-1867), Itabashi prospered as a post-town on Nakasendo Road, a main thoroughfare for travelers. From the Meiji Period, the community accommodated establishment of Tokyo Metropolitan Foster Home to house persons without kin and Tokyo Metropolitan Institution for Welfare of Children with Severe Disabilities. In the area of service for mental health and welfare, Itabashi ranks the third in terms of the number of hospital beds in mental wards with Tokyo Metropolitan General Hospital, two university hospitals and 4 private mental hospitals. At each of these hospitals, a plural number of mental health and welfare specialists are assigned to render their support in day-care and rehabilitation activities and with outpatients’ and families’ organization. They also contribute to making lively interchange with the community for the patients.
At the public health center and the public health and welfare centers at 4 locations, the ward support holding 3 times weekly meetings of day care OB (former day care service personnel) as well as meetings of local families.
Also at the health and welfare centers, mental health and welfare specialists with background in psychology are placed, which is rather exceptional rather than a rule in the Metropolitan area. Meetings are held monthly by the Itabashi Area Mental Health Rehabilitation Committee, which consists of those supporters’ concerned, family members as well as recipients of service themselves. These facts along with the Itabashi Ward’s progressive support policy as for the nighttime care and clubhouse is believed to be making it a treasure chest of support resources.
The activities evolved by Itabashi Ward under these circumstances are the result of mutual cooperation rendered in consideration of the users’ hopes and aspirations and of the partnership formed among the administration, citizenry, and the families of service users.
(4) Environmental Condition of JHC Itabashi
Since its inception in 1983, JHC Itabashi has been engaged in its activities at its 3 workshops, 3 nighttime-care locations, club house, peer support network center, job placement center, community life support center by holding up a vision for the creation of a heartwarming town through the participation from the persons with mental disabilities themselves and collaboration among those concerned.
JHC Itabashi has placed its facilities in each of the jurisdictional areas of the public health centers and the public health and welfare centers, which is very important from the point of valuing highly the partnership with the administration’s services through the public health centers and the public health and welfare centers and that of rendering integrated service through respective independence and collaboration.
JHC Itabashi’s support program has as its base the daily route system of rendering strong support to the social workers at the welfare offices, public health nurses at public health centers and mental health & health counselors as well as close cooperation and collaboration with the seven mental institutions within the ward.
(5) Basic posture of activities
Our activities adopts as its basic posture to carry out activities in collaboration with persons with mental disabilities themselves and citizens in general toward the creation of a community in which to live together through mutual support, i.e. partnership among residents in the same community.
The strategy toward that end entails:
(i) Importance attached to accessibility
Easy to learn and easy to access. It blends well with the environment. It is possible to suit participation to each individual’s convenience. It provides a place anyone may become involved as a member of the community.
(ii) Program that is easy to participate
Support program offered at a nearby location within the same community with contents that are easy for anyone to understand and participate and are rich in relevance to everyday life.
(iii) Possibility of benefit sharing
The program is regarded necessary to the people in the community in carrying out their daily life. It should yield specific benefits to exist nearby and to be jointly shared to eventually become part of the important local support resources (assets) of Itabashi.
Whether with or without disabilities, it calls for people to come to a sympathetic realization that this is the community in which they live together and to build the kind of neighbor relations that they can share.