Like all areas of social care, funding shortfalls have made this a difficult year for mental health services. When provision is stretched the role that the community plays in supporting vulnerable people becomes ever more vital.
As we celebrate World Mental Health Day today it is encouraging to see that in certain parts of the country communities really are beginning to work together to find practical solutions to supporting people with mental health problems to get back on their feet; benefiting not only the individual, but the community as a whole.
The Sudley Collection story began with a piece in the local paper about a man in Bognor who had rented an old engineering warehouse, which he was going to use to salvage unwanted household items and turn them into sellable goods. It sounds like a straightforward business idea, but what makes this different is that the man wanted his new venture to not only benefit himself, but the town as a whole, and for it to run on a not-for-profit basis.
The story was spotted by a Senior Support Worker from United Response’s Mental Health Outreach team, who went with colleagues and clients to visit the Trash Converters site and came up with the idea of setting up a furniture restoration business, run by people with mental health needs. Richard Campbell liked the idea and offered them rent-free space in his warehouse and items of furniture to work on.
The end result has been the launch today of the Sudley Collection, a not-for-profit, furniture restoration business , where local people with mental health needs can gain valuable skills in furniture restoration whilst at the same time creating stylish , high quality pieces of furniture. The furniture is then sold at low prices so that they are available to other vulnerable members of the community who may need them. Money made through the sale of furniture is then reinvested in the tools, training and equipment needs of the volunteers taking part in the project.
The Sudley Collection is just one example of how a community working together in a creative way really can make all the difference. This is a project which makes sense both financially and practically, but - more than that - it’s a project which delivers for everyone. The Sudley Collection is not about providing people with mental health needs with support. It’s about people being given the opportunity to play their role in the community along with everyone else, both giving and receiving support.
With 1 in 4 people likely to experience a mental health need at sometime in their life, mental health is a community issue. Let’s hope we see more projects like this; setting out to tackle it together.
Sarah Bartlett, Press Manager.