Voluntary and charitable organisations from across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland (LLR) met for the first time this week [Wednesday 25 May] to mark the beginning of an innovative funding scheme that will see them teaming up with the NHS and local authorities to deliver local projects aimed at improving people’s mental health and wellbeing.

More than 28 organisations were successful in their bids to collectively spend almost £800,000 on their own projects as part of the Getting Help in Neighbourhoods scheme (GHIN).  GHIN  is part of the overall transformation of mental health across LLR and it is aiming to create neighbourhood teams that will come together to provide more local support to people who need it and to help tackle health inequalities. In December 2021, the project launched its mental health wellbeing fund to be used by voluntary and community sector partners on local projects.

One of the successful organisations was Leicester Community Links CIC whose project will focus on adults in the Belgrave area of he city. Their CEO, Taruna Mistry, said: “This Getting Help is Neighbourhoods funding is so important for our local communities as we come out of the pandemic and start to deal with all the issues this has created for people. We will use the money to deliver more support sessions for people, predominantly from the south Asian community from our Belgrave Community Hub. This will include physical activity sessions, yoga, meditation and general wellbeing advice.”

“We have already started our project and have delivered a Diabetes awareness workshop and on Wednesday 1st June we will have a celebration event bringing all faiths together.”

Another organisation to benefit from the fund is the Thrive project which will use the fundng to extend its singing cafes a across the county. Already running in Shepshed, Melton, Ashby, Wigson, Loughborough and Coalville, they are looking to take on more people to add to their locations. Project lead, Catherine Henderson, said: “It was fantastic to meet with so many voluntary and community sector organisations at the event. We all know that so much can be done for people’s mental health and wellbeing without the need for clinical input. Our singing cafes are all about connecting people, building relationships and having fun – all the essential elements to help people live well and thrive. “

Two of the organisations that take a lead on the health of the local population are the Health and Wellbeing Boards of Leicester and Leicestershire. Both Chairs came to the event to meet the partners and hear first hand how their projects will making a difference to the population.

Councillor Vi Dempster, Chair of the City Health and Wellbeing Board said: “I am really passionate about getting equity of resources between mental and physical health. I am delighted to be here to see the investment into the voluntary and community sector and to meet the partners involved. There is a lot of energy to harness from this network.”

Councillor Louise Richardson, Chair of the County Health and Wellbeing Board said: “I was really pleased to be asked to be part of the panel that went through all the bids for the grant fund earlier this year. Meeting the partners today underlines the dedication that each organisation puts into its work and I wish all of them every success with their projects. The voluntary and community sector are key partners in planning and delivering support for people with mental health challenges as they provide that joined up care on people’s doorsteps.”

The GHIN mental health and wellbeing fund is a partnership between the CCG, LPT, Leicestershire County Council, Leicester City Council and Rutland County Council and has been administered by Leicestershire & Rutland Community Foundation (LRCF), an organisation that strengthens local communities by giving thoughtful grants to local charities and voluntary groups, for all kinds of local needs.

Rob Melling from Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust, one of the funders, added: “I am looking forward to working with all the partners on their projects over the coming months. I would like to invite other VCS organisations to apply for future rounds which will be announced very soon by our partners at the Leicestershire and Rutland Community Foundation.”

The fund details can be found here