Luton and Bedfordshire community groups celebrate grants success

The NHS funds will help a large variety of groups

By Lynn Hughes
Monday, 7th March 2022, 2:44 pm
Updated Thursday, 10th March 2022, 2:18 pm
Boxing Saves Lives
Boxing Saves Lives

Inspiring and diverse community projects, from helping Asian elders living with dementia through to a boxing coaching wellbeing programme for children, are among 37 groups to receive grants from a £1.8m East London Foundation Trust fund. Sixteen of the groups are from Bedfordshire.

Voluntary, community and social enterprise sector (VCSE) organisations of all sizes supporting communities served by the Trust were invited to apply for grants of between £5,000 and £100,000.

The programme was launched to fund work led by the voluntary sector aimed at reaching communities who experience inequalities in access, experience and outcomes in mental health care.

Carers in Bedfordshire

Mental health voluntary sector organisations were also invited to apply for funding if they are at direct risk of closing or losing capacity as a result of the COVID pandemic. The £1.8m programme received bids for projects of more than £11m.

Dr Mohit Venkataram, Director of Commercial Development, said: “Applications through the grants programme have helped shine a light on incredible organisations and people already doing amazing work to help others – and how they want to do even more.

“We are proud to be able to offer support to some of the groups who applied for funds and will continue to develop new ways to support others. Each of our Voluntary sector partners demonstrate what a phenomenally important role they play in keeping our communities safe especially when inequalities have shown the impact the pandemic has had on our vulnerable communities.”

Richard Fradgley, Director of Integrated Care said: “This fund was launched to help VCSE networks continue giving voices to people that the health and social care system has sometimes struggled to hear.

Young musicians at CHUMS

“It has been inspiring to see the depth of work already taking place and we are pleased to provide support as part of a shared commitment to reach populations and organisations who have previously felt excluded or overlooked.”

The programme is being managed by the Trust’s social enterprise Compass Wellbeing and include:

Music24 - £28,557. The funding will support 350 people by the setting up of a range of groups and sessions offering music therapy, emotional freedom technique (EFT, aka tapping) and sound baths.

Autism Bedfordshire - £51,812. The funding will help continue to provide the charity’s crisis helpline for adults. Calls increased 62 per cent during 2020. It will also help its specialist transitions support programme, a service supporting young autistic adults (aged 18-25), that has been designed to help them and their families to navigate the confusing world of adulthood.

Outreach Music Group

Disabilities Resource Centre (DRC) - £82,330. The grant will help continue to provide a three-stage approach to provide a centralised gateway for residents to access services and support to address their mental and physical health.

Carers in Bedfordshire - £75,000. Carers in Bedfordshire (CiB) will use the funding to broaden awareness of carers across the health service and identify and support people who care for someone with a serious mental illness (SMI). Funding will also help the organisation continue providing support to carers. Before the pandemic there were 6,397 carers registered with CiB. That number has grown to 9,410 today, placing significant pressure on the organisation.

Bedford Players Trust - £8,93.2 The community-focused arts organisation will use the funding for its Timeless Tales programme which promotes companionship and friendship residents in local care homes using stories, poetry and songs. They will focus on two homes in which there are 70% or more residents living with dementia, working with them for three months, after which time we will begin again with two different homes with a similar demographic.

Bedfordshire Rural Communities Charity - £93,008. BRCC will use the funding to develop its good neighbour (GN) schemes network. During the pandemic its 43 GN groups saw an unprecedented demand for help at a time when many volunteers/ committee members were shielding or becoming too old. It will also develop green social prescribing. The pandemic has highlighted the physical and mental wellbeing benefits social, outdoor, active and environmental activities. BRCC will use increased staff capacity to increase the number of activities it runs, strengthen links with other outdoor activity/ green-gym type providers and increase partner understanding of wellbeing issues and facilitate social prescriber/ agent referrals to these providers. The funding will also support its You Can Do IT! Digital inclusion project.

The Place in Bedford

ACCM (UK) - £45,700. ACCM (UK) helps BAME and other vulnerable communities be healthy, safer and happier by raising awareness and improving access to statutory services. They will use the funding to address COVID misinformation and the pandemic’s impact on people’s mental health by organising an open day in partnership with Age UK – Bedford and ELFT, resuming free coffee mornings, linking with faith leaders to organise workshops, continue supporting 40 elderly people they have been helping during the pandemic and continue working with public health to provide counselling and information in different languages to reduce anxiety and reduce belief in misinformation about the COVID and vaccinations.

Outreach Music Group (OMG) - £17,940. OMG is a community based peer-to-peer organisation that provide creative workshops and courses to help people with mental health illness or challenges can learn ways to express and manage their wellbeing. Trustees are from the community and represent the wide diversity of Luton and Bedford. The funding will provide a number of 10 week creative courses targeting marginalised individuals with serious mental health illness/mental health illness in Bedford and Luton.

Women’s Aid in Luton (WAiL) - £99,774. Women’s Aid in Luton (WAiL) is a charity, providing trauma-informed support for women and children impacted by domestic abuse. The funding will enable a senior mental health specialist to work with staff to build skills, mainstream mental health support across their services, develop multi-agency approaches, enhance the WAiL offer to vulnerable women (particularly 16-21) and fully integrate a planned concierge system (a 24-hour refuge support for women with additional vulnerabilities). WAiL will also expand their children’s work with a part-time worker with mental health expertise and appoint a part-time administrator to help with data capture – with the extra hours releasing front-line practitioners for appropriate continuing professional development.

The Counselling Foundation - £54,175. The Counselling Foundation is an organisation that provides BACP accredited training and counselling services, with counselling and training centres in Bedford and Luton and in Hertfordshire. The funding will be used to recruit a full-time counsellor to work with the foundation’s complex needs team. The new counsellor would also develop a partnership approach with other VCSEs and statutory bodies who have access to some of our most marginalised groups or individuals with more complex needs.

NOAH Enterprise – £41,041. NOAH supports individuals who are homeless, socially excluded, have fallen into poverty. The funding will be used for a support worker at their welfare centre. Funding will also be used to improve the medical centre with some soft furnishings and improvements to the psychologically informed environment. The remaining £5,000 will be allocated towards HR training costs for diversity and inclusion.

Penrose - £100,000. Penrose help people excluded from other services due to their complex and multiple needs, challenging behaviour or history of non-engagement with statutory services. The funding will support a minimum of 170 people with priority needs across Luton and Bedford - centred around Penrose’s existing residential, hospital step-down and floating support provision and new referrals from existing partners who have no access to the therapy support they need.

Boxing Saves Lives – £52,870. Boxing Saves Lives use boxing as a therapeutic intervention for boys and girls, including those who are at risk of exclusion, isolation or exploitation. They work across Luton, Central Bedfordshire and Bedford and the funding will be used to target schools and provide a combination of 121 intervention work and group sessions. The majority of the children they work with are of South Asian or Afro Caribbean descent.

CHUMS - £91,348. CHUMS will use the funding to rebuild COVID-affected capacity within their recreational therapeutic service (REC) and trauma service to help 234 children and young people on waiting lists and/or who are identified as being most in need. The REC service programmes are designed to support children in a way that is fun and engaging through activities they are passionate about – for example, music, art and football - with a sound psychological approach around Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) principles, a well-known and evidence-based psycho-social intervention. Through using football, art and music CHUMS are able to evidence a tangible improvement around behaviour, anxiety, self-confidence and engagement in learning.

Bedfordshire Open Door – £62,430. Bedfordshire Open Door is a registered charity for people aged 13 - 25 years in Bedford Borough and Central Bedfordshire. They deliver free, confidential 1-1 counselling, drop In, group work and retreats for young people experiencing issues including suicidal ideation, self-harming, eating disorders, domestic violence, abuse, crime, exploitation, drugs, alcohol, anxiety, depression, bereavement, bullying, relationships, identity issues and homelessness. The funding will enable open door to continue delivering the service to current capacity and to resource gaps in funding for the year ahead.

Caraline - £19,913. Eating disorders charity Caraline will use the funding to provide further support to the Trust which is transforming eating disorder services in the county and mobilising a high-intensity team (HIT) community crisis pathway for young people with eating disorders. It will enhance further partnership working with ELFT and enable the delivery of a stepped care approach to children and young people supported by eating disorder services