The latest episode of podcast More Than a Shop explores the need for new conversations, support networks and funding focused on mental health across the UK.
One in four people experience a mental health problem in any one year. Series presenter Elizabeth Alker chatted to two people heavily involved in delivering mental health services – at a local level and nationally. Whilst this series was recorded and produced before the Covid-19 pandemic, the issues raised will be more pertinent than ever.
Rachel Summerscales spoke as Hulme Community Garden Centre manager (she has since left the organisation), which has operated in South Manchester for nearly 20 years. It delivers an extensive volunteer and education programme through gardening:
“People come to us for a whole variety of different reasons. What they get when they come to us is to be part of a team, to make new friends, to have a sense of purpose and to build confidence and have a reason to get out of bed in the morning.”
Stephen Buckley, is Head of Information at national mental health charity Mind. It raises awareness and offers advice and support to anyone experiencing a mental health problem. The charity has around 130 independent Local Mind organisations embedded in local communities.
“We want people to read about mental health and understand more about how they can perhaps access their rights and entitlements; about the kinds of treatments that they should be asking for, what’s available to them. It’s all about information that gives practical advice rather than just information.”
Stephen talks about Mind’s charity partnership with The Co-op, which launched in October 2019 – also in partnership with the Scottish Association for Mental Health (Scotland) and Inspire (Northern Ireland) – to bring communities together to improve mental wellbeing:
“It’s still early stages, but a key thing that we want to be doing with The Co-op is working with communities to understand what’s going to work for them in terms of developing mental health resilience. This work will reach across the whole of the UK, so we’re really excited by it.”
The episode also features London-based Lifeafterhummus Community Benefit Society, a community owned and run organisation delivering affordable cookery and healthy living classes which bring people together and have positive impacts on mental health.
Farrah Rainfly, one of the founders of Lifeafterhummus, started to notice more people were feeding back about the positive impact the cooking sessions were having on their mental health:
One regular attendee said: “I struggle with a little bit of social anxiety sometimes. Some evenings it’s a good opportunity just to practice being around people; other evenings or it’s more relaxed and I come away feeling that it’s been really worthwhile.”
More Than a Shop is brought to you by Co‑operatives UK, The Co‑op, Co‑op News, The Co-operative College and The Co‑operative Heritage Trust. The series is produced by Geoff Bird on behalf of Sparklab Productions.
Please note: The More Than a Shop series was recorded before the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic.