Supporting community groups delivering mental health and wellbeing activities

Published: 27 June 2023 to 31 December 2098

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One year ago, our Trust launched a Community Mental Health small grants scheme, designed to support community-led ideas that could respond to the mental health needs of people across Hull and the East Riding of Yorkshire.

The core goal of the programme was to enable local level, peer-led activities to empower people to put their wellbeing first, exploring new ways to deliver and connect mental health support within communities, and listening, learning, and adapting existing activities to improve personal resilience.

As we hit this one-year milestone, we wanted to reflect on the ways in which the HEY Smile Foundation have since supported us to distribute various grants to projects that reach older and isolated people, vulnerable and marginalised communities and hard-to-reach groups.

We’re pleased to say that 27 fantastic projects have been supported as part of the programme since its establishment in June 2022.

Each project has hosted a range of activities through their funding, including educational sessions, arts projects, gardening schemes and wellbeing and movement classes, with groups reporting higher than expected attendance figures and lots of positive feedback.

As the scheme is just one part of a much bigger plan to transform the mental health and wellbeing support available locally, it is hoped that the work being made possible from this funding will help people improve their overall mental health and wellbeing.  

Some examples of the projects made possible are:

Toranj Tuition

A book and film club aimed at reducing social isolation and boosting confidence amongst immigrants attracted around 50 participants.

Toranj Tuition, which is based on Beverley Road, in Hull received a community mental health grant of £5,000, to deliver weekly sessions over a six-month period.

The sessions mostly attracted refugees and asylum seekers, including a group of people who have fled Ukraine after the outbreak of war a year ago.

Toranj Tuition assessed people’s ability to speak and read English before giving them books to read. People with higher level English were given George Orwell’s Animal Farm and Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Those with basic skills were given Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl and The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis.

When asked why these texts were chosen, the group noted that they also wanted to gain an understanding of British culture. Participants also got the chance to watch the film versions of the books.

Pedram Saeid, Director of Toranj Tuition, said:

“We were able to reach forgotten people. People living isolated and lonely lives. Many of them have suffered trauma in their home country. They have a range of mental health conditions. We wanted to give them the chance to remove barriers to socialising and to improve their mental health.”

Participants were aged between 20 and 60. Groups of no more than seven members were established to give people chance to talk, listen and make connections.

One participant said the group provided ‘ a rare opportunity to meet new people’ another said it was ‘a long-awaited community project that should be repeated’.

A woman who had been suffering from depression said: “The best way to tackle the loneliness and isolation is through a useful activity.”

She described how it helped her challenge depression and improve her English.

 “I am mother of four children and have been living in the UK for more than 20 years now,” she said. “I have been housewife all these years and been busy doing the jobs around the house to support the household. Since my children have left the house, I began to feel loneliness and isolation. I was also diagnosed that I am suffering from mild to moderate symptom of depression. My English is not good enough to enable me to communicate effectively with British people. Our ethnic community is deeply divided so that I had little chance to socialise with community members. I found the clubs very helpful as it provides a venue to meet people and socialise and at the same time improve my English language.”


Thread and Press

Thread and Press is a Community Interest Company which involved scores of people in creative pursuits to build skills and positivity.

They received a grant of £4643, with which they ran 16 workshops in six different locations around Mid and South Holderness, an area they had previously been unable to reach.

People were invited to attend workshops and, as a result, a total of 87 people were able to take part in a therapeutic craft activities including drawing with a sewing machine, needle felting, lino printing and illustration.

Holly Davies from Thread and Press said:

“We wanted to allow people to explore their creativity and see how it improved their mental health. We also hoped to encourage people to pick up a hobby. We had a fantastic response to the workshops. We had hoped to be able to involve around 50 individuals, but we had so much interest that we were able to involve many more.”

Many people who took part in the sessions reported that they found them calming. Respondents to evaluation questions frequently reported that the session helped them focus on one task and forget about everyday life. People also reported that they had learned new skills and that sessions had given them ideas to be more creative at home. One participant said: “Producing a piece of art gave me a feeling of accomplishment leading to a sense of wellbeing and happiness.” Another said: “Being creative and interacting with other people is very helpful to boost a positive head space. It gave me time out in a safe space where I didn’t think or worry about anything else.”

The grant recipients said the sessions also gave them opportunities to grow and learn. For example, they realised that only two men attended the session, so they are now planning on investigating which arts and crafts would interest men. They were also pleased to have been able to reach out to communities they previously hadn’t worked with, and they are now planning on working in Mid and South Holderness again.


Kids Yorkshire

Kids Yorkshire aims to improve health and wellbeing among parents of children with additional needs and disabilities by promoting greater empowerment, resilience and confidence.  

They received a grant of £5,000 to deliver the online training to 50 parent carers in Hull and East Yorkshire, through which parent carers are encouraged to take small steps associated with better health and wellbeing and to set achievable goals and take a problem-solving approach.

Claire Crosbie, Senior Fundraiser for Kids Yorkshire, said:

“During the project we learned the importance of empowering parent carers to look after themselves. Parent carer resilience is often overlooked and being able to give parent carers opportunities to explore their own resilience is vital to help them with their caring role.”

The Healthy Parent Carers programme gives parent carers the opportunity to do something for themselves and to connect with peers that are going through similar experiences.

It enabled parents to bond with each other, create support systems, and gain opportunities.

One parent said they felt they ‘had a purpose’ following the program and no longer felt like ‘just a carer’.

Michelle Marlow, Regional Manager (and parent/carer) at Kids Yorkshire, said:

“In my day job I have trained to facilitate many, many courses to support parents and young people but as a parent/carer this is the first that has ever resonated with me personally. The manual is amazing making the delivery of the course straight forward for anyone with or without experience (and I have seen a lot of manuals)! “

A trainee facilitator parent added: “I have learnt so much about myself and how important it is to look after myself, it has made me determined to pass this on to others.”


We would like to take this opportunity to say how absolutely blown away we have been by the fantastic work happening across our communities as a result of this programme.

When we developed the scheme, we knew it was a step in the right direction with regards to supporting others to provide those additional opportunities, but we didn’t quite realise just how much of a difference it could make. Thank you to everyone who applied for the scheme and ran successful activities as part of this piece of work, we look forward to seeing how such projects continue to flourish over time.

  • Summary:

    27 small projects have been supported by the Community Mental Health small grants scheme since its launch.

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