Eight members of St. Frideswide’s Church hosted eight visitors from five Citizens:mk member institutions in the first ever online Weaving Trust event, using Zoom as a platform. This is the first of a series of events organised by Citizens:mk in a new strategic partnership with MK Community Foundation to support its Vital Signs research.
Weaving Trust is a carousel of short one-to-one conversations between people who wouldn’t otherwise meet. The focus question for this event was: “Where do we see strength in our community and how can it be used to support mental health and wellbeing?”
Following the conversations, participants shared various reactions and suggestions (below).
Rev Catherine Butt, Vicar of St. Frideswide’s Church, said: “It went to prove that listening and learning can happen virtually in this way, despite the obvious compromises. At St Frideswide’s we are looking forward to working with our partner institutions as we emerge from these strange days, with hope for a fairer and more just society.”
Comments from participants at the end of the session were as follows:
What has struck me is that mental health issues can affect anyone at anytime to varying degrees – no one is immune
A minor stress for one person is unbearable for another
My own context would be very stressful for many people, whereas it’s not for me
We need to be aware of/sensitive to the mental stress of children
Community can be about social support too, for example, spot those who are lonely and bring them in. How we do that in lockdown may be more of a challenge for communities.
Community can help by making people feel as if they belong. People can feel very lonely and isolated in a whole slew of different contexts, but they have to feel they matter to someone, and feel valued, otherwise as humans we feel cut off even if we are in a crowd.
Aspects that came up in some of my chats: the benefit of green spaces and nature, the sharing of cross generational experience for the support of young and old; smaller communities with hubs at the centre for meeting and activities.
This session has been great and I think communities need to be very aware of children and young people and their mental health going forward
Acknowledging we cannot make it right but are there in support of others, we all have skills and experience and can use these to encourage and share in getting alongside others
It’s been great to talk to five different people coming at the topic from such different perspectives. Strengths in our community/ies that came up in our chats included green spaces in Mk, such as canals, lakes, parks; churches and faith groups a resource for community groups offering somewhere to meet, and volunteers to help community groups to build relationships, and talking to one another. During lockdown, MH is being talked about more because of the detrimental effect staying indoors not seeing loved ones, and the worry about work, money, ill health, etc. But it is good it is being talked about because we need to bring it out in the open, and break stigma. People are reaching out to one another during lockdown at a new level, which is building relationships and this is good for our wellbeing, and so is having a bit more time for quality times with family, parents and children, spouses, etc, and to do less and be more.
Stability is important in uncertain times – how do we provide/help that when projects/funding comes and goes?
It would be good if the new found community spirit could be continued past the lockdown phase. Checking in with a neighbour or group Whatsapps for example.
I wish we could come with other terms, something that carries less of the stigma and less of the medical baggage…wellbeing is a good start.
I was thinking about how we connect to the people who have any degree of mental health but are either coping or not coping behind closed doors. We don’t know about them and they may no know that there are agencies to help them or feel unable to ask for help. The only way seems to be building relationships within small communities.
We need to understand that whilst people’s physical needs can be met, anxiety and mental wellbeing is as important and being able to signpost people to help as well as talking is important. There are a number of different community initiatives that can help. Arts organisations, MIND, amongst others are all still working.
One key phrase that stood out was mutual aid.
How can community support those who are in acute need? There is plenty of advice coming out from agencies and local services e.g. Arthur Ellis on MKFM on Sunday.
It’s a concern that people living with MH issues that belong to groups are not able to attend during lockdown.
There has certainly been a shift in the community around me towards talking when there is an opportunity – we can encourage this by responding even just by smiling/body language.
In post-session evaluation, participants scored the event 8 out of 10.
Citizens:mk’s annual Leaders Forum, this year hosted by St. Paul’s Catholic School, attracted 40 people including leaders from 16 member institutions and some external guests. Each member institution presented one or two priority social problems arising from their listening campaigns, powerful testimonies were heard and the following research teams (with named leaders and institutions) pledged to work over the winter months with the goal of reporting to Delegates Assembly on 5th February:
Cycle Safety – Craig Broadbent, Deborah Cooper and Phil Ashbourne of Green Alliance, Leo Nicholas of St. Paul’s Catholic School; The Open University.
Fair Deal/Work – Hala Afify and Linda McComie of Truby’s Garden Tea Room, William Appaih of St. Augustine’s Catholic Church; Middle East Cultural Group.
Housing & Homelessness – Lawrence Morgan and Carol Barac of Green Alliance, Ayser Al jawad of Middle East Cultural Group.
Mental Health – Saira Sajid of MK Academy; Gabi and Tom Navin of St. Paul’s Catholic School, William Appaih of St. Augustine’s Catholic Church.
Police at Primary Level – Tony Berwick of Jubilee Wood Primary School, Kate Matthews of Southwood Primary School; St. Paul’s Catholic School.
Refugees Welcome Schools – Elysia Roach of St. Paul’s Catholic School, Craig Warne of NASUWT, Susie Hancock of The Open University.
Youth for Elderly – Richard Lyons of St. Frideswide’s Church, Sofia Hassan of Middle East Cultural Group, Rachel Redford of The Open University.
Research team leaders were asked to contact Community Organiser Tom Bulman, tel 07962 838685, asking him to attend their first research team meeting and deliver training to the team.
An alliance-wide training workshop has been arranged for Saturday 1st December 2018, 9.30am-1.30pm at St. Frideswide’s Church, where leaders from all teams/institutions will receive Action Research training from Tom and Jonathan Cox of Citizens UK.
In post-event evaluation, this internal action was scored 8/10.
In Spring 2018, Citizens:mk’s Mental Health campaign team conducted a survey to find out about experiences of Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (‘IAPT’) among Muslim and LGBT+ communities in Milton Keynes.
This research was supported by Tyrone Blackford-Swarries, Director of MK Mental Health Services (pictured at the Citizens:mk Accountability Assembly last year), who is interested to know why some communities are less likely to undertake IAPT assessments than others.
Responses were received from 14 Muslims and 19 LGBT+ people, with combined results as follows:
73% said that, if they needed a Mental Health assessment, they would use the IAPT service (12% knew the meaning of ‘IAPT’).
Two respondents (6%) gave ‘fear of bullying/prejudice/racism/sexism’ as a reason for not using the service. Two said they were unable to face a phone assessment.
88% said they were more likely to request and attend a face-to-face appointment if offered one in a location of their choice – 78% expressed home as a preference, 42% the Hospital, 30% Q:alliance meeting place).
76% would take up the offer of a psychological therapy service.
Contact details were provided by 36% of respondents from Muslim communities and 3% of respondents from LGBT+.
These results will be discussed with the IAPT Team to explore policy implications.
Roz Mascarenhas from the Youth Participation Team of MK Council invited Citizens:mk’s Mental Health campaign team to lead a Mental Health workshop at the MySayMK Conference for pupils from local secondary schools. The conference was held at MK Christian Centre in Oldbrook (pictured).
The workshop was facilitated by campaign leader Tess Price and two new team members, Brett Farrier-Smith and Laura Gaskell from the YMCA, along with Community Organiser Tom Bulman. The workshop was delivered twice to a total of about 50 young people aged 11-16.
Through structured conversations (121, small group and whole group), short-listing and a process of voting at the end, the following mental health issues were prioritised for action (in priority order):
Teacher Support and Awareness of Mental Health Needs and Issues in School (20 Votes)
Support at School for Individual Needs (16 Votes)
Teacher education/training on Mental Health (12 Votes)
Improving Access to Services and Support for ‘Lower Risk’ Young People who can’t access CAMHS (9 Votes)
De-stigmatising Mental Health needs, especially taking into account students/young people’s individual backgrounds, cultures and religions (9 Votes)
Treating everyone the same, in school and outside school, so that young people don’t feel further isolated/stigmatised by their mental health needs/issues (9).
It was agreed that the outcomes would be shared with MK Council and other stakeholders including the Joint Commissioner for the Clinical Commissioning Group and the Director of MK Mental Health Services.
alliance of diverse community organisations acting together for a thriving, inclusive and fairer Milton Keynes