Cash boost of £500,000 is shared with groups to boost mental health and well-being

Engage Renfrewshire has dished out more than £500,000 to communities in a bid to boost post-pandemic mental health.

The huge donation is part of the umbrella agency’s Community Mental Health and Wellbeing fund.

Charities, social enterprises and community groups of all sizes have received funding ranging from £780 to £39,000 for local activity that supports positive, adult mental health post-pandemic.

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Activities range from walking groups in Howwood to multimedia art classes in Paisley, and from mental health workshops specifically for BAME communities to exercise equipment for transplant patients.

The fund is also creating jobs with several charities requesting money for dedicated posts that will support all kinds of programmes.

The fund, created by the Scottish Government, was designed to support non-clinical mental health activity that would respond to the emerging issues seen post-pandemic, namely an increased sense of loneliness and isolation and a need for early intervention before people reach a crisis point.

Engage Renfrewshire’s dedicated fund officer Alice McBride is excited to see programs get underway.

Community boost: Alice McBride, Community Mental Health & Wellbeing Fund officer at Engage Renfrewshire

She explained: “We received applications totaling over £1.2 million, so there were some hard decisions made by our panel.

“However, we believe the successful programs and charities will have a significant impact on the mental health and well-being of Renfrewshire residents.

“Mental health is something that affects everyone and the aim of this fund, and the activity it supports, is to provide positive and meaningful experiences to local people.

“To encourage all those participating to take a proactive approach to managing their mental health.”

One of the organizations receiving funding will be Lochwinnoch’s LEAP (Local Energy Action Plan) which requested £3,100 to go towards their Feel Good Festival.

LEAP project officer Tori Bell welcomed the funding, saying: “We’re really grateful for this award which will go directly to our community.

“Our Feel Good Festival aims to improve the well-being of community members through a variety of activities and this funding will allow us to cover many costs to ensure that these mini-events are offered in a way that is accessible to everyone.

“This funding will also help connect our rural area to support services based elsewhere in Renfrewshire, through opportunities for partnership working.”

Several projects seemed to support specific communities within Renfrewshire but others will be offering services across the area.

One such project is ROAR – Connections For Life which will be using their £22,400 to support intergenerational work.

CEO Cassie Forbes said: We are absolutely delighted to receive this vital funding which will allow us to develop new activities for reducing intergenerational loneliness and isolation throughout Renfrewshire and the resulting escalation into mental health decline.”

Other groups focussed on new activity, responding to calls from their communities to widen their offer post-pandemic.

Kickin’ On was originally established as a peer support group that uses fitness and football to kick-start healthy discussions, particularly amongst young men, about mental health and

Its grant of £6,000 will help support new art, music and cookery sessions which chair Dave McKenna hopes “will reach an audience we may not reach with football and bootcamps”.

He added: “As an inclusive organization we want to be able to have a positive impact on anyone in our community who is struggling and by having new and fresh ideas like these are the way to connect with people we may otherwise not have been able to .”

As the local third sector interface, Engage Renfrewshire is also offering all funded organisations, as well as those who weren’t successful, the opportunity to develop aspects of their service.

Training and third sector guidance will be available throughout the funding period and any local groups or individuals who have an idea for further activity in 2022 or 2023 are encouraged to get in touch to find out more.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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