Mind Works project helping people with mental health problems into work

Mind Works project helping people with mental health problems into work smashes

By Grimsby Telegraph  | Posted: November 25, 2013

SUCCESS: The Mind Works project in North East Lincolnshire has achieved most of its three-year targets in just 10 months. Pictured, from left, are mental health development worker Ian Disley, volunteer mentor Lisa Sandford and service user Annemarie Stones.

A PROJECT set up to help people with mental health problems get into volunteering has already smashed most of its three-year targets, just 10 months after being established.

Mind Works is a scheme run by Voluntary Action North East Lincolnshire (Vanel) and funded for three years by the Big Lottery.

It was launched to help those suffering with mild or moderate mental disorders get voluntary work and ultimately paid employment.

The project was given a target of getting 10 people into work over three years. Just 10 months in and the number of service users helped into paid employment stands at 15.

In addition, Mind Works has also helped 31 people into voluntary placements and exceeded its target for the number of people it has trained up as mentors.

Vanel’s Ian Disley, mental health development worker for Mind Works, said the organisation had identified a clear need to support people with anxiety or depression into voluntary placements.

Vanel’s Volunteer Centre was constantly getting people coming in who wanted to volunteer but were quite anxious about it.

“They might have been out of work for some time and had developed anxiety, and needed additional support and some form of befriender or mentor.”

Mind Works provides support through a buddy system in which a mentor will accompany the service user on their first day in their placement and offer support and advice thereafter.

Mind Works also runs a wellbeing workshop every Tuesday afternoon in which service users are taught essential life skills to help them cope when they have a stressful day.

There is also an art group every Thursday afternoon, which gives people an opportunity to try their hand at arts and crafts, drama, music and creative writing.

Since last December the project has received 110 referrals from various agencies, including Navigo, the Change Programme, Mind, Open Minds, as well as directly from Vanel’s Volunteer Centre.

One of those to have used the service is Annemarie Stones, 34, of Cleethorpes.

She said: “I had one job for 13 years and was made redundant and I didn’t have a lot of life experience. My confidence was a big barrier. This has been ideal for me to build my confidence up.”

She began volunteering at Age UK and is also starting a placement at North East Lincolnshire Credit Union.

She is studying for a Level Four qualification in accountancy with Premier Training and her ultimate aim is to get a paid job with an accountancy firm.

“I go to the Tuesday wellbeing group and we learn a lot of different techniques to cope with depression and anxiety; for me it is writing things down.

“Meeting different people has given me a bit more of a social life. I see my mentor Lisa for an hour a week. That’s good because I can discuss any problems at my workplace because I am a bit anxious at times.”

Her mentor Lisa Sandford said: “I support clients that have anxiety and depression, that are looking to get into voluntary work but aren’t feeling ready.

“Some clients who come in find it hard to get out of the house. Seeing them move forward is very rewarding. They don’t have a lot of a social life so getting them out speaking to people regularly is a big deal. It’s good getting them out there, building their confidence up and getting them to meet people who have the same issues as them.”

Anyone with a mild or moderate mental health disorder who would like support to get into volunteering can call in at the Volunteer Centre or call 01472 231123.