Local organisations have this week been awarded grant funding from leading charity, Living Well UK, to bring to life mental health programmes for people in Birmingham and Solihull. The grants – totalling almost £60,000 collectively – will be distributed to seven causes, including SIFA Fireside and Aston Villa Foundation.
Covering everything – from drama productions and walking therapy programmes, through to dedicated gardening spaces and angling clubs for young people – the funded projects aim to improve the wellbeing of their benefactors.
SIFA Fireside, the homeless support charity, has been awarded £20,000 to employ a Mental Health Pathway Navigator for its clients. The new hire will provide on-site mental health expertise, including crisis intervention, signposting to other support services, and health and wellbeing workshops – as well as training for SIFA’s team of 35 staff.
Meanwhile, Aston Villa Foundation will be using the funding to design a rehabilitation programme specifically for women with complex needs who have previously been detained under the Mental Health Act. Building on its work with the NHS Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust (BSMHFT), Aston Villa Foundation’s new project will complement the women’s existing treatment and recovery plans, providing 24 weeks of physical activity sessions: from low intensity training exercises, to ‘soccercise’ and dance.
Speaking about the impact that Living Well UK’s grant will have, SIFA Fireside’s Chief Executive Officer Natalie Allen commented:
“We are hugely grateful to the Living Well UK team for choosing us as one of the grant scheme recipients. This funding will allow us to recruit a much-needed Mental Health Pathway Navigator, who will bridge a vital gap between our clients and the existing systems in the city.
45% of people experiencing homelessness have been diagnosed with a mental health issue – which rises exponentially to 80% of people sleeping rough – with a further 22% reporting an undiagnosed mental health issue. Through this dedicated role, we will be able to get more people mental health support that will not only serve them today but will help break the cycle of homelessness long-term too.”
In addition to SIFA Fireside and Aston Villa Foundation, the other grant awardees are:
- Disability Resource Centre, which will be debuting a mindfulness walking project, combining walking and meditation. The programme intends to support people who are struggling with deteriorating mobility.
- Sudden Productions, a theatre company that specialises in creating true-to-life arts schemes. Sudden Productions will be running ISOLATED, a drama project about the impact of the pandemic on mental health, that is created both by and for young people.
- St Paul’s Community Development Trust, which is establishing an angling club for young people with mental health issues and learning difficulties. The activity will run in Moseley Private Park, giving young people the opportunity to learn a new skill and talk openly about how they are feeling.
- Servol Community Services, who provide accommodation for those experiencing mental health problems in the West Midlands. Servol’s grant will go towards developing a communal garden at its Janet Fay House in Balsall Heath, allowing residents to grow vegetables, take part in yoga and tai chi classes, and socialise with each other.
Also receiving a grant is iSE – the Initiative for Social Entrepreneurs – for its social enterprise start-up incubator, FUSE. iSE will use its funding to offer grants to start-ups who are hoping to develop or test their ideas, as well as a place on its FUSE programme, giving them masterclasses, one-to-one mentoring, peer support, and networking opportunities.
Ben Howells, the CEO of Living Well UK, said:
“We were overwhelmed by the response to our grant scheme, receiving a huge number of applications from incredibly worthy causes across the region, so to only be able to choose seven was very difficult! However, we couldn’t be prouder of the projects that we have selected.
“Each one is so unique, but their unanimous mission to deliver community-led mental health and wellbeing support truly shines through. I am certain that each cause will have a fantastic impact across Birmingham and Solihull, and I know I speak on behalf of everyone at Living Well UK when I say that we can’t wait to see the programmes in action!”