A mental health scheme in Tendring is helping to end the ‘revolving door’ that sees people with mental ill health continually discharged and readmitted to hospital.
The Mental Health Hub was launched by the Tendring branch of the Citizens Advice Bureau in 2015 with support from Active Essex, Essex County Council, Essex’s Police and Crime Commissioner and Tendring District Council (TDC).
It is hoped the scheme will help to save councils, the police, and the NHS hundreds of thousands of pounds across Essex every year.
The hub, located in Clacton, is based within the Community Clothing Project and offers an easy single point of entry for referrals from GPs, health professionals, police, and self-referrals. The idea of the hub is to carry out “holistic assessments” of people with mental ill health taking into account all the various factors behind their situation and point them in the right direction for help.
The shop is also staffed mainly by volunteers experiencing mental ill-health, such as problems with homelessness, social isolation or income, and helps to give them the confidence to go on to volunteer elsewhere. Volunteers also gain key personal skills, have social contact, and make friends.
Melanie Hammond, chief executive of The Mental Health Hub, said: “Some of the people who drop in can’t even look you in the eye, so to see them progress, gain confidence and end up working in mainstream charity shops is just amazing. They just never thought it would be possible.”
More than 20% of the volunteers have gone on to mainstream charities, while 12% have gone on to paid employment.
Now, through the support of the Essex Local Delivery Pilot, the project is working with Tendring District Council to identify a plot of land to develop a community garden space and provide outdoor physical activity and other benefits.
Melanie added: “We are doing good things and we now want to expand. Our ambition to open a new communal garden space, along with ideas for birdwatching and dog-walking groups, will provide outdoor physical activity, fresh air, and allow our volunteers to develop their team-working and communication skills.
“We are very grateful to the Pilot and for the recognition we are receiving.”