Over the last two years, we have been able to offer some additional services to support health and wellbeing beyond the initial need for food and shelter. This was made possible with some external funding: first from the NHS New Models of Care funding and subsequently from some European funding (ESF LA7 Community Grants). For both projects we used the Five Ways to Wellbeing model. Identified from research and developed by the New Economics Foundation.
The five ways of:
Connect: Making connections with people around you...family, friends and neighbours.
Be Active: Discover a physical activity that you enjoy and that suits your level of mobility and fitness.
Take Notice: Be aware of the world around you and what you are feeling.
Learn: Try something new.
Give: Being linked to the wider community will help to create connections with people around you.
The framework has been shown to significantly improve health and wellbeing. Evidence suggests that a small improvement in wellbeing can help to decrease some mental health problems and also help people to flourish. Our use of this model is supported by The ‘Five Year Forward View report for NHS England which highlighted that VCS organisations were better able to reach underrepresented groups and that there was a gap in offering preventative support for health and wellbeing.
Our projects used this framework to address mental and general health though a structured, creative programme:
Three Wellbeing Days were offered between January and March 2017. They were hosted at our base at Hampden Street Centre in South Shields, one in February and two in March. They offered practical support and promoted skills development in applying effective strategies to allow the clients to better manage their own health and wellbeing. Each Wellbeing Day was held on a Sunday (1.00pm to 5.00pm).
The format was:
On arrival, informal individual or small group activities alongside refreshments. This included: reading newspapers; board games; arts and craft activities; nail manicures.
Running in parallel throughout the day, were a number of practical support sessions that clients can access if they wish. These included massage therapists and a hairdresser. A Psychotherapist was also available at all of the days. They offered both general and one to one support offering Mental Health First Aid support to those in attendance.
Group activity offering strategies to self manage wellbeing including therapeutic clay modelling; session; using a professional storyteller using hope as the theme for discussions and reflections; painting; Walking Therapies; and creative writing.
A ‘Rucksack Project’ provided practical resources for those engaging with the project to improve wellbeing.
An information pack signposting to other mainstream provision as well as ideas for improved wellbeing was distributed alongside the ‘Rucksack Project’.
The project engaged with 62 clients generating 112 attendances across the three Wellbeing days.
“I feel ten times better”.
A client that attended the third Wellbeing Day said:
“I usually just come and eat and then leave. But I made myself stay this time to try and meet other people”
Two Psychotherapists were part of the team for the Wellbeing Days. This enabled them to build relationships and trust with the clients to support them to identify that counselling support would be beneficial. When support was identified, they arranged with the individuals an appointment to access support. These were held on Soup Kitchen days interspersed with the Wellbeing days and/or other times throughout the week. In addition to the Wellbeing Days, 17 clients engaged with the Psychotherapeutic Counselling.
We successfully secured two grants from this funding stream between September 2017 and May 2018. Across the two projects (Food, Shelter and a Future and The Next Steps) we engaged with 62 participants who generated more than 5,638 learning hours including gaining 40 qualifications.
Building on the success of the Journey to Wellbeing project (January to March 2017) we offered a structured programme of training and activities for clients and volunteers. This was offered over a nine month period, September 2017 to May 2018. The project had an enormous impact on those clients that engaged promoting increases in confidence and self esteem, offering a positive focus to their lives and increasing health and wellbeing.
The Food, Shelter and a Future project focussed on the clients accessing the services of the soup kitchen and offered structured activities two days per week following food sessions on Wednesday and Sunday afternoons. A number of activities were offered including cooking; music and singing; art (drawing and painting; clay and mixed media); Job Club and special activities (visit to the Customs House; ten pin bowling; Health and Wellbeing Day and a Presentation event). Aspirations were increased and skills developed.
The qualifications gained were for Level 2 Food Safety in Catering; Level 2 Health and Safety in the Workplace; and Level 3 First Aid. The singing group developed to the point where they wrote a song and visited a recording studio to record it before launching on social media to promote the charity and raise some funds.
This focussed on the residents of our Supported Living Accommodation. Eight residents engaged in a range of activities to improve wellbeing and improve their employability skills. This included undertaking short course qualifications with Vortex for Food Safety in Catering and Health and Safety; Preparations for the driving theory test; Health and Wellbeing activities (bike rides with the Support Manager; visit to NECA Allotment project; attendance at the Wellbeing Day and ten pin bowling activities; a photography project; Volunteering at Hospitality & Hope both in the main premises and at our Community Cafe. An art project was also offered to the wider client base and offered weekly outings to local art venues combining the outdoors with an art activity. Visits included Seaham, Sunderland Art Trail, Woodhorn Museum and the Baltic.
“I was not convinced by all this ‘Arty Farty’ stuff! I always thought that art was for the middle classes, so I thought that it was not for me. When the art sessions were offered at the soup kitchen, I was not interested in taking part. But after some gentle persuasion, I thought that I would give it a go”...
”My art journey has moved me forward...it has helped me to concentrate (although not yet back to how I was) and supported me to think things through. So it has had a good impact on my general health and wellbeing. I would definitely engage in art activities in the future”.
Such has been the positive impact on the health and wellbeing of clients, across all of our health and wellbeing projects, that we have taken the strategic decision to include holistic support, based on this model, as a core service in the future. Currently we are piloting a new service The Listening Programme. This is offering opportunities for clients to access informal one to one support by trained volunteers who are able to offer a listening ear and support issues before they escalate. Funding for a programme of weekly activities for the soup kitchen clients will be launched soon.