HICOM became directly involved in the Village Mental Health forum in late 2015 and was used as the organising vehicle for the Village Mental Wellbeing Week held in April 2016.
During the week a survey, completed by 162 people, identified the need to increase activity and for a focal point. The forum decided to progress a new proactive community engagement role of ‘village mental wellbeing champion’. The main objectives are:
- Increase mental health awareness and break down barriers
- Signpost and advocate specialist support available
- Improve mental health prevention and early intervention
HICOM through it’s experience with the Older Peoples Co-ordinator initiative and involvement with the April Week was identified as complementary fit through which to progress the Village Mental Wellbeing Champion role initiative.
The support of the project funders in helping make the project happen is much appreciated and the funders include Histon & Impington Parish Council, Histon & Impington Feast, Friends of the Rec, Poor’s Land Charity, SCDC, The Batterson-Chivers Foundation, Comic Relief through CCF and St Andrews Church Histon.
In March 2017 we appointed Annabell Webb as the village Mental Wellbeing Champion. Without doubt Annabell has had a positive impact on our community since her appointment in there have been many positives including:
- Regular drop ins at St Andrews Centre Café and village schools and those who have attended have benefited from the signposting advice provided
- Small group sessions at the Infants and Junior Schools for children needing support
- Successful launch of a toolkit for village youth groups
- Signposting and support provided for individual village residents
- Successful Village Mental Wellbeing week in October
- Extensive networking to increase profile of mental wellbeing in the community
At the end of 2017 Annabell decided to step down from the role and so plans were made to slightly reshape the focus of the project for 2018 and learn from experiences in 2017. The two main parts of the project are:
- A village Mental Wellbeing Worker focusing on children, young people and families with increased personal role support
- Broader community involvement to work with the Mental Wellbeing Worker and provide support more generally to residents.
In April 2018 we recruited a Mental Wellbeing Worker, Sefanit Inquai, who is now working closely with the schools to help improve the mental wellbeing of the children and is starting a range of new initiatives in the community.