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Most innovative mental health intervention

Most innovative proactive wellbeing intervention

Long-term impact

Outstanding contribution to the mental health and wellbeing sector

Inspirational mental health story (under 18s)

Inspirational mental health story (over 18s)

Lifestyle award

Most Innovative Mental Health Intervention

Penumbra Milestone

Penumbra Milestone is an alcohol-free 10 bedded step-down service providing short-term care for vulnerable men and women aged 18+ with a probable diagnosis of alcohol related brain damage (ARBD). Milestone is a partnership of Penumbra, NHS Lothian and City of Edinburgh Council (Health & Social Care). Penumbra staff consist of Nurses and Support Workers in addition to part-time NHS in-reach staff including Psychiatrists, Psychologists, an Occupational Therapist and Physiotherapist, Physician and a full-time Social Worker from City of Edinburgh Council who all work as an integrated team, collaborating to facilitate residents’ recovery.

This joined-up approach is a strong example of health and social care resources being used efficiently and improves the care provided to people by drawing on the valuable range of skills in the Third Sector, NHS and Council Services. Our residents are people who no longer require medical intervention but due to their cognitive impairment sustained though alcohol abuse, are not ready to go home. Prior to the opening of this service in August 2014, Lothians residents with ARBD were often stuck in an acute hospital setting unable to go home without support. Milestone provides a rehabilitative service for up to 12 weeks. Extended stays are sometimes necessary depending on the progress of each individual. Capacity is assessed throughout their stay and emphasis is put on individual re-enablement to improved and sustained functioning in the community.

In order to further improve resident’s outcomes in the longer-term, the model has adapted to provide post-discharge support to aid in the transition back to the community. As the pilot developed it was evident that resident’s vulnerability was heightened in these first few weeks once back in the community. Penumbra and Rowan Alba offer additional support at home after discharge and this new element of the programme allows people time to increase their confidence and embed their new lifestyle.

This innovative, integrated residential service for people with ARBD provides person-centred, cost-effective treatment which delivers significant savings to the NHS and substantial benefits for the residents.

Going above and beyond the expectations

There is a general consensus that most of the time a person with ARBD spends in hospital is of limited benefit to the person and is not conducive to supporting their ability to recover from this type of brain damage. A more detailed analysis in the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh prior to the unit opening confirmed an average length of stay (LOS) of 83 days. However, the average medical acute phase of inpatient stay for the same group was just 11 days, therefore this resulted in every ARBD person potentially occupying an acute bed for an additional 72 beyond the ‘medical acute stage’ of the persons journey.

The Penumbra Milestone ARBD service provides a package of person-centered interventions in a residential environment that supports people with ARBD to improve their cognition whilst working with community based statutory and third sector organisations as well as families or carers to create an appropriate package of care for further recovery in the community.

The principle objective of the ARBD step-down service is to reduce the time that people with ARBD spend in Lothian’s acute hospitals. It also aims to improve outcomes for people with ARBD, their families and their communities. The team responsible for the ARBD unit have developed a unique and innovative new service that is releasing significant unscheduled care bed days in acute hospitals and is improving outcomes for patients, families and communities. Residents benefit from a holistic and intensive re-enablement service in order that they are able to return home, better able to manage their health, their addiction and their ARBD.

The service was developed in response to the requirement to find a better way for NHS Lothian and its partners to work together to better meet the needs of people with ARBD admitted to acute hospitals. These people were mainly revolving door patients, high users of A&E and acute bed days. The acute site experiences 2 savings. Firstly, one from a shorter length of stay in an acute bed prior to admission to the service and secondly, after discharge from the service, these people have less visits to A&E and much reduced hospital acute bed admissions with far fewer bed days. At least 50% of the discharged residents no longer use acute services for anything other than routine appointments.

The team provide specialist & intensive 1:1 and group re-enablement support for up to 12 weeks. It is a great example of health and social care integrated working to improve patient outcomes. Residents engage in a range of activities and therapy to improve their physical and mental health as well as promote/re-learn social and life skills. They are also supported to engage in community-based support services in the community that they will be discharged to, in order that they can continue to engage in them after discharge. This includes AA, SMART Groups, recovery cafes and so on. Residents are also supported to access other community services that will continue to support their recovery. This includes local sport and leisure facilities.


It is known that people experiencing ARBD have a range of complex physical, mental and social needs. They often don’t access any service interventions at all, living in severely poor social circumstances unable to plan and act to improve their health and well-being.

Conversely, other people affected by the condition can often place great strains on health and social care services who are ill-equipped to effectively meet their complex needs. 

A tragic example of this is found in the Scottish Mental Welfare Commission’s “Mr H” Report regarding a gentleman with ARBD. It was found that there was little knowledge of the condition among staff, communication was poor, there were missed opportunities to effect positive change and the lack of timely intervention was in part due to staff’s prejudicial opinions that the gentleman was making a “lifestyle choice”. It was also recommended that staff and services should consider using legal instruments (eg Adult Support and Protection Act and Adults with Incapacity Scotland (2000) Act more quickly to safeguard such individuals.

The Service was designed to be a major part of a new way to address the needs of such individuals. At time of writing it is the first and only step-down residential service in the UK for people effected by ARBD. It has been evidenced to make tremendous positive changes in the lives of people referred to the Service.

As well as improving individual’s lives, the Service has been successful in creating an innovative approach to relieve the pressures such individuals were placing on acute medical services due to delayed discharges.

The Service is innovative in its purpose and design. It has been successful in creating a Recovery focussed environment which is evidenced as achieving its goal of providing highly specialist assessment and treatment of ARBD and simultaneously reducing delayed discharges.

In answering how the Service does this in a safe manner, it must be remembered that our residents’ complexities are wide-ranging and there are numerous inherent high risks that require specialist management. Such risks include managing co-concurrent physical and mental illness e.g. Diabetes, Peripheral Neuropathy, Alcohol Liver Disease, Anxiety, Depression, Suicidality, PTSD, COPD, Asthma, Heart Disease etc.

A major factor in how these risks are effectively managed is connected to the range of expertise found within the Service. The staff team consists of highly specialist individuals from health and social care. There is a full medical review prior to discharge from hospital, a wide multi-disciplinary team to address the full range of possible requirements, knowledge and ability to access services to assist. The service has information sharing protocols in place to allow the sharing of information according to GDPR.  The culture and values of the service being non-hierarchal allows the partners to keep the resident at the centre and all support each other ensuring best practice.  The service is regulated by the Care Inspectorate and all elements of the service (Care and Support; environment; staffing and leadership) have received a score of 5 (Very good) and all staff are registered with appropriate regulatory bodies such as the Nursing and Midwifery Council and Scottish Social Services Council.

Sustained impact

The evidence year on year since 2014 has shown Penumbra Milestone to be highly successful.

While the effects on the individual are significant and chronic, there is also a financial cost on health and social services to provide care for people with ARBD. It is, of course, difficult to put precise figures on the financial cost, though NHS Lothian Health Intelligence Unit estimated that the cost of accommodating people with ARBD in hospital beds is approximately £2million per annum for a population of c800,000. This cost is in part inflated by the difficulty in locating suitable housing and care packages to allow people to return to their homes and communities, causing blockages in bed flow. In addition, frequent attendance at A&E is common in those with chronic alcohol problems due to poor general health as well as injury due to falls.

Prior to admission to the ARBD unit, each resident spent an average of 54 days as an inpatient in acute wards, despite being medically fit for discharge on average on day 11. Each patient had an average of 4.39 admissions to inpatient wards and 5.13 presentations to A&E per year. In the first year of opening, those transferred to the ARBD unit from acute hospital wards spent an average of 27 days as an inpatient, a decrease of 27 days, which thereby released those beds for other patients. Each resident stays an average of 100 days at the ARBD unit (note that this average is significantly raised due to a very small number of residents for whom the guardianship process meant they could not be moved to more suitable accommodation). Based on the first 46 patients who are now over 12 months post-discharge, the average number of days spent in acute wards decreased from 54 to 16 days, with 63% having no return to an acute ward at all. In addition, 44% did not return to A&E in the 12 months post-discharge from Milestone, and a further 31% had fewer than 3 visits to A&E. Taking into account the reduction in inpatient stay prior to admission to the ARBD unit, the reduction in total inpatient days spent in acute wards post discharge from the ARBD unit, and the reduction in average visits to A&E departments post discharge, the estimated saving to NHS Lothian is approximately £1M per year, based on an average of 48 people per year using the ARBD unit. This figure considers the cost of funding the ARBD unit.

The initial drivers may have been financial but the impact on personal recovery for this population is quite remarkable. The concept of personal recovery relates to one’s ability to live a full and satisfying life as personally defined, whether mental health problems persist or not (Anthony, 1993). I.ROC was designed by Penumbra to measure the recovery journey of people using their services. The 12-item questionnaire is used to stimulate a conversation about how things have been over the last period, and to identify priorities for the future. Each item is scored on a 1-6 frequency scale, with a total score range of 12 – 72. Descriptive statistics for each I.ROC item and total scores are shown in table below.

  FirstFinalDifference% Change
I.ROC Indicator Average ScoreMental Health3.314.331.0230.8%
Life Skills4.024.960.9423.3%
Safety & Comfort4.175.331.1728.0%
Physical Health2.944.381.4448.9%
Exercise & Activity2.634.541.9273.0%
Purpose & Direction2.7341.2746.6%
Personal Network4.385.080.7116.2%
Social Network24.292.29114.6%
Valuing Myself3.084.481.4045.3%
Participation & Control3.794.420.6316.5%
Self Management3.134.441.3142.0%
Hope For The Future3.14.311.2138.9%
Pre- and Post scores and percentage change from I.ROC assessment (n=68)

As can be seen, all aspects of personal recovery measured by I.ROC improve significantly, with particular improvements on Social Network, Exercise and Activity, Physical Health, Purpose and Direction, Valuing Myself and Self-Management. This corresponds well to the ethos of the unit and the recovery and rehabilitation programme employed there.

The service has enabled research to be carried out in respect of cognitive functioning in people with ARBD. A team lead by the NHS clinical psychologist have submitted this research for publishing.  In order to track cognitive change, all residents at the service are tested using one of the three versions of the ACE III every 4 weeks. Varying the ACE III version minimises practice effects. All staff are trained in the use of the ACE III, and regular audits are conducted to ensure inter-rater reliability and consistency remains high. The mean change in ACE III score total as well as by domain between the first and the final test for the 84 residents who stayed at the unit for over 28 days (average 76 days) are presented below:

ACE IIIAttention (/18)Memory (/26)Fluency (/14)Language (/26)Visuo-spatial   (/16)Total (100)
% Change+ 13+ 13+31+5.3+8.5+11
Change in ACE III scores by domain for residents staying a minimum of 4 weeks (n=84)

All domain scores as well as the total score have increased. The biggest change is in the Fluency domain, though a dependent means t-test reveals significant changes in all domain scores and in the Total score. While a calculation of Reliable Change suggests that for the Total score a change of 11.25 is significant, these results clearly indicate an improvement in cognitive functioning over a relatively short period of time.

FAB scores also significantly improve for patients (t(43)= -2.91 p<.01, effect size d= .499). FAB scores increased by an average of 10.8% (1.5 points).

Most innovative wellbeing intervention


HUG A MUG has been designed and set up in response to community need and address gaps in local healthcare provision. It aims to help people who are often left behind by the system and those that sometimes ‘fall through the gaps.’

Ewanrigg is in the top 5% of the UK’s most deprived communities and in Feb 2018 was defined by Allerdale Borough Council as the most deprived ward in Allerdale. Ewanrigg and surrounding areas have long been considered deprived and yet despite many well-meaning attempts, investment and anti-poverty plans have made little difference. The Ewanrigg Local Trust take a different approach to traditional regeneration and social development plans. The Ewanrigg Local Trust is a resident led organisation. Local residents decide how they want to improve their community and are helped to put these plans into place. HUG A MUG came out of a four year research process of finding out what local residents want to improve in their community and working with residents and health providers to identify what the priority health and wellbeing challenges and opportunities are for local residents. Through this process it emerged that there was a demand and need for a service like HUG A MUG. We have since spent several years developing the project with local residents and a wide range of partners.

HUG A MUG is a free and friendly guidance café, located upstairs in Maryport Health Services. Open to everyone, whatever their age, situation, background or postcode, the service is available from 9.30am – 11.30am every weekday morning. HUG A MUG provides a safe and social space where you can get advice on all sorts of things like health and well-being, housing, work, finance or family problems. HUG A MUG is managed by Ann-Marie Steel and operated by the Ewanrigg Local Trust in partnership with Maryport Health Services. It opened in October 2017 on World Mental Health Day. It is staffed by trained volunteers recruited from the community, from local businesses and from educational settings. Free hot drinks are available to drink in or take away and the volunteers are trained to listen to client needs and respond appropriately. HUG A MUG has collated a wealth of resources and information and is working in partnership with a network of service providers and organisations so that volunteers can signpost clients down the right pathway. HUG A MUG provides free phone and internet access and volunteers can assist clients with filling in forms and making calls on their behalf etc. We are not aware of any comparable service run from a GP surgery. We are not aware of anything like HUG A MUG in the UK. We know that some community venues have infrequent advice and guidance clinics. We also know that some larger urban health centres have cafés but we are not aware of any UK signposting and guidance café’s established within a small community health centre and open every day. As there is no precedent for a service like HUG A MUG it has enabled us to take a wholly creative and bespoke approach to designing and now adapting this service in response to the needs of the local community.

Many residents need housing, health, employment & finance advice. Despite an, albeit limited range of support groups/services available people often don’t have the means to access the help that is available. Barriers can be practical – no phone credit or internet access; or knowledge – people don’t know what help is available, or they may be nervous about seeking help. Many see a GP to get the above help because it is a free and trusted service, but they don’t have medical needs that require the attention of a GP. HUG A MUG offers people a safe space for a friendly chat and someone to help people work out how to access the support they need for themselves.

• Visit our website to see a general overview of the project. Also, watch our short and accessible explainer animation that appears in the doctor’s waiting room and has been used on social media and within school assemblies etc.

• View a short promo video created for social media
or search You Tube for Hug a Mug – Visit us at Maryport Health Services

• Read ‘A Day in the life of our HUG A MUG Project Manager, Ann-Marie Steel’

• Read a local GP’s view of HUG A MUG and how it is fulfilling a vital role within community health – see

Going above and beyond

When we set up HUG A MUG we did not anticipate the amount of people in the area that were in need of the service, or the complexity of the problems that some of our residents face. Although the service is supposed to operate from 9.30 – 11.30am every weekday morning, the need for the service has been so great, that our staff and volunteers often have to stay longer. Also, because of the nature of the service and the amount of people who have accessed the service at a crisis time, the sessions can’t easily be squeezed into a managed timeslot. A person in crisis can’t be hurried, can’t be shooed out of the door at ‘closing time’ and help can’t often be accessed at the drop of a hat. Our staff and volunteers (particularly Ann-Marie, our HUG A MUG Co-ordinator) regularly stay with clients after HUG A MUG has closed, waiting for a family member or the Crisis Team to arrive to help keep this person safe. They have reorganised work shifts, holidays, family commitments and personal time to accommodate clients and make sure their needs are met, handling issues as sensitively, confidentially and as efficiently as possible.
HUG A MUG distributes Foodbank vouchers to those that need them. In recent months there has been a noticeable ‘spike’ in demand for Foodbank vouchers. It is not uncommon for HAM volunteers to dash around to the local community centre to ask if they have spare food that we can give to a client who hasn’t eaten for a few days until they can get to the Foodbank.
The service has also exceeded all expectations of how it is valued by clients and service users. Residents that regularly seek out support have found that it can be a lifeline, enabling them to access support in between ‘difficult to access’ appointments with care system professionals; a vital link to help when they need it most. Some of our service users have made and sold craft items to help raise funds for HUG A MUG – recent examples include a lady who made Xmas decorations, raising over £400 which she donated to HUG A MUG.


There are lots of agencies and services operating in the area, but people do not necessarily have the confidence, the facilities or the knowledge to be able to access the right help. Many local services and groups struggle to communicate their offer and struggle to increase the number of people who use their services. Many local people find it hard to find out about what is available to them and there are many barriers to taking those next steps. HUG A MUG aims to bring all this knowledge together in a safe and social space, creating the right atmosphere with the right people who are equipped with the right skills so that they can empower residents to seek out the right support. HUG A MUG aims to create that warm, safe feeling that people get from wrapping their hands around a hot drink and knowing that someone will listen. HUG A MUG empowers people by helping them to identify what help they need and helping them to take those next steps – the service doesn’t aim to do it ‘for them’ or ‘to them.’

Whilst we monitor and evaluate HUG A MUG outcomes and have included some statistics in this application (see the appended infographic) it is difficult to measure the human benefits of HUG A MUG. It is a common occurrence for us to support people in crisis, people who are at risk of harm to themselves and others, people who are ‘at the end of their tether’ as well as those who are lonely, depressed or who don’t know where to turn. HUG A MUG is becoming a place that people come to because they know that someone will be able to help them find a way forwards, and that whilst they are in HUG A MUG they are not alone.

“HUG A MUG is a very welcoming place. The volunteers are helpful and supportive. You don’t always have to share your worries, although there is always someone there to listen.” Quote from a HUG A MUG service user

We work closely with other organisations who are experts in their field so we can ensure that the services we signpost to are safe, reliable, reputable and regulated.

The collaborative aspect of the project is one of the ways that it is so special. The wave of support that it has enjoyed from all areas of the community, throughout the development phase, the launch phase and the first 2 years of business has been phenomenal.
The HUG A MUG project depends on ‘collaboration’ and has managed to harness the power of various sectors of society including community, voluntary, private and public. It is able to meet the needs of the local population by tapping into a network of resources and expertise. By working together with various agencies and businesses HUG A MUG aims to empower individuals and give them the confidence to seek support and make a change. HUG A MUG continues to grow and develop as new volunteers, partners and clients come on board. You only need take a few steps into HUG A MUG to get a strong sense of community ownership. Regular attenders often offer to make new clients a cup of tea and toast, they see it as a shared space. Regular attenders have become volunteers and volunteers come to HUG A MUG as clients.
The pace at which client numbers has risen shows that it is a much needed service (see below). The collaborative approach to designing and implementing HUG A MUG has been key to its success i.e. we were able to co-design the right service with the involvement of local residents, health providers, local business and community groups.
The service has had enthusiastic and invaluable support from all areas of the local community and key figures, organisations and stakeholders have all been consulted and been able to contribute to its development. Members of the local community have also been central to these consultations – a fact that has been demonstrated by the high number of community volunteers as well as the number of referrals from family members and friends who have read about the service in the local media or heard about the service through word of mouth. Organisations, services and individuals (such as GPs, counsellors, teachers, clergy and family members) are already directing individuals to HUG A MUG so that they can get the support they need.

Maryport Health Services have been incredibly supportive and have donated a room in their building to accommodate HUG A MUG. The Health Services building is used to full capacity and we are therefore very grateful that they value HUG A MUG to the extent that they have freed up a whole room for this purpose. The room has been gutted, renovated and fully equipped thanks to support from businesses such as Sellafield, Atkins, Doosans, Shepleys, Wates Construction, Sealy UK, Eddie Shimmings, LCD Print & Stitch, Kaefers, Ansaldo Nuclear, Morgan Sindall, AMEC, PPM, Cumberland Building Society, Stitch and Print and Sewn by Janie. Support has been shown in many ways including financial, as well as the donation of time, labour, facilities, tools and expertise. Some businesses have allowed some of their staff to volunteer on a regular basis as part of their CSR programmes. The Project Manager will continue to work in partnership with private sector organisations to secure financial assistance so that HUG A MUG does not have to rely on grant aid. HAM is an innovative partnership between Maryport Health Services and the Ewanrigg Local Trust. Maryport Health Services was rated Outstanding, again, by the CQC and HUG A MUG was mentioned positively in the CQC feedback.

All staff and volunteers are fully trained.
HUG A MUG is staffed by volunteers from many different sectors and of all ages. All the volunteers receive training in communications and mental health first aid. These skills can be used in everyday life, in a family setting or taken back to their workplace. The project provides CPD opportunities and the chance to learn new skills. It provides people with an opportunity to help themselves, help each other and contribute to their community in a useful and productive way. Volunteering hours can be logged towards qualifications and awards and it’s a great way to gain experience in admin, community support and communications. Traditionally most people find it hard to recruit volunteers but HUG A MUG has proved an exception with a steady flow of new volunteers offering their services. Volunteers say that they are well supported by Ann-Marie, they value the training they get, they have a clear role and purpose within HUG A MUG and they can see the value of their role and the service. Unusually we also get high demand from young people wanting to volunteer. Many of these young people want to pursue careers in health and social care – HUG A MUG provides invaluable experience for these young people.

“I have been able to develop great communication skills since receiving my initial HUG A MUG training. Being able to volunteer in the project has given me the chance to use the training effectively and gain confidence when listening non-judgementally.” Quote from Hug a Mug volunteer

It is run by skilled people who care.
Ann-Marie Steel has managed the project from conception. She has been instrumental in all areas of development – from initial consultation with community sectors, to designing and delivering training for the volunteers; from securing financial support from businesses to managing the renovation of the room; from organising volunteer rotas to co-ordinating the marketing and design of the promotional materials. She has enthusiastically thrown herself into every challenge, carefully managing the project and bringing in external expertise where needed in order to deliver a professional and invaluable service – open to everyone who needs it. Ann-Marie has a background in general and paediatric nursing and has over 20 years’ experience in several voluntary sector charities throughout Cumbria. Her compassionate, common sense approach has guaranteed HUG A MUG’s success to date – and she will continue to drive it forward in the coming months. Ann-Marie thrives on helping other people to fulfil their potential and is a huge asset to the project. She supervises her team of volunteers at HUG A MUG and is constantly seeking out ways to protect, improve, enhance, develop and deliver this innovative and necessary service to local residents.

“It has been amazing to see the volunteers develop the confidence to signpost the clients to the most appropriate support. They have developed lifelong skills through their volunteering in HUG A MUG. The clients have built up trust in the project and for some it is the reason they get out of bed in the morning. Having someone to listen to them and make them a hot drink, means so much. We have new attendees each week and they leave armed with the confidence and information they need to help make their situation better.” Ann-Marie Steel, Hug a Mug Co-ordinator

Sustained impact

The success of HUG A MUG has been contributed to many of the factors above. The collaborative model, working in partnership with experts, means that it has been sustainable, and the service has enjoyed month on month growth throughout the first 2 years.

HUG A MUG has been part funded by Ewanrigg Local Trust and does not rely on state funding or grants. It has received £16,000 from businesses and regularly received donations from individuals within the community who want to see the initiative continue and thrive.

It has 19 volunteers from local businesses and the community. Local business volunteers have delivered 880 hours of time, 648 hours have been delivered by community volunteers and 452 hours have been delivered by young people aged 17-25.

The Ewanrigg Local Trust have funded Ann-Marie’s post and secured marketing & comms expertise to help shape, develop and promote the service.
The HUG A MUG project has a regular presence in Maryport Matters, a free quarterly community magazine that is delivered to over 7,000 homes in the area.

Long-term impact

Core Arts

Core Arts is a not-for-profit Social Business. We promote positive mental health and wellbeing through creative learning.
Providing quality education, training, employment and social enterprise initiatives that enable people who experience mental health issues to overcome barriers, fulfill their potential and participate fully in their community.
Our mission is to support and promote recovery, social inclusion and mental wellbeing through the arts and enhance service user experience.
Core Arts is an Award Winning Charity with 27 year history of user involvement and user-guided project based in Hackney; 75% of our Trustees are service users or ex-service users.

*History of running a successful timetable of 80+ classes a week under 5 departments: music, arts, multimedia, sports, horticulture
*70+ open and free creative community events a year
*Proven ability to create safe and inclusive learning environments
*Referrals from 20 London Boroughs
*Service user tracking, individualised creative planning, achievable goals, encourage a feeling of success and wellbeing. Tailored to the individual and adjusted to their progression.
*History of effective partnership working with both the creative sector and MHT, ELFT, CCG’s, Voluntary sector and Private sector
*History of partnerships projects in creativity and sports in Hackney with partners like the Wellcome Trust, British Museum, Whitechapel Gallery, Science Museum, V&A etc
*Evidence of accessing match funding and partnership working.
*Owners of a large Centre with a 300 capacity fully licensed hall for events and sporting activities.
*OFSTED inspected as part of our Hackney Learning Trust contracts and praised by OFSTED for exceptional user involvement
*Visited in May 2018 by HRH Prince William the Duke of Cambridge on a private visit to see our methods of engagement of excluded communities.

Going above and beyond

Core Arts focus is to educate, equip and empower our 2000 per year NHS referred adults who suffer mild to severe and enduring mental health issues from 20 London Boroughs.

We focus on the individuals creative journey through individual goal setting through self directed Creative Work Plans that are controlled by the student, using a college style education model to support the individuals to become self sufficient and resilient through an engaging and energetic timetable of creative, sporting and social activities. We encourage progression and well-being both mentally and physically, and we connect the isolated and marginalised individuals to develop friendship groups and strong social and community focussed connections. Highlighting the individuals’ strengths and ambitions of all our students are and what they can contribute to society instead of their perceived difficulties. We collate robust evidence of our outcomes in tackling inactivity and mental health issues through creativity to improve social cohesion in the vulnerable and at risk adults in the community.

Core Arts strives for excellence in all the creative opportunities delivered to our referred clients.
We develop high profile partnerships to allow our students the best opportunities to showcase their works. For example printmaking and ceramic shows at the British Museum. Audio guide to Bedlam: the Asylum and Beyond at the Wellcome Collection, curating part of the Medicine Galleries at the Science Museum, Art installations at the V&A and many more.

Core Arts publications showcase our innovative work in our different departments-

Here are some highlighted reports:

Creative Education Program evidence
Recent studies on our intervention through an educational program have shown a 96% decrease in hospital readmission for SMI- full report below and article from NCVO on the findings

Sports Department evidence

Core Landscape meanwhile community gardens evidence

Core Arts events program evidence
Our 70 Plus social and educational events per year, use of our 300 capacity Community fully licensed hall, focus on social interaction to build positive relations between different groups and communities that will maintain the high levels of community cohesion in Hackney and London. By enabling our clients, all whom suffer severe mental health issues, to design, co-ordinate and deliver a user-led program-
*Inclusion and wellbeing of carers, friends and families of adults suffering mental ill-health by attending the Chat Shows together. Building supportive social networks between careres.
*Building positive relations between different groups that will maintain the high levels of community cohesion in Hackney by participating in creative activities together irrespective of age, disabilities and mental health needs.
*Increased social skills and making friends. Increasing sense of belonging to society and a creative productive group. Wellbeing improved for adults suffering loneliness, exclusion participating in a social music event to end isolation, make friends and improving their physical health and mental well being.
Below is evidence of our events and peer reference groups videos-

Below is evidence of our reach in social media

Below is evidence of featuring Core Arts in the Press and media


Core Arts was established in 1992 and is an award winning Service User Guided Mental Health Charity based in Hackney.
Core Arts exists to enrich the lives of socially excluded people with severe mental health issues
Our inclusive Art Centre delivers creative education and progression pathways to 2000 adults per year suffering severe and enduring mental health problems. Our NHS referrals are from 20 London Boroughs. 70% are from BAME communities from London’s inner city boroughs, of which 50% are young afro-Caribbean men means we are reaching those who face the toughest barriers to inclusion.
Our mission is to promote positive mental health and wellbeing through creative learning. Providing quality education, training, sporting and horticultural activities in our centre. Plus member progression opportunities, employment initiatives through our social enterprises Core Design and Core Landscape, enabling people who experience mental health-issues to overcome barriers, fulfill their potential to achieve their personal goals and aspirations and make a full contribution to society.

Through specialist training and advice given directly to a marginalised group of people that public bodies find hard to reach Core’s aim is to strengthen and develop the individual, whether for mental well-being or to enable them to embark on a career in a related field, we support the long-term recovery and inclusion of our members all of whom are referred to us by the NHS. At Core the sense of equality is evident in the ways diversity is valued, addressed and celebrated, allowing members to make a full contribution to society.

Core Arts has 27 years experience in innovative user led and managed projects. Leading by example we have developed new business infrastructures, alternative ways of looking at mental health, inclusion and social enterprise to serve the community. Working in the most deprived neighbourhoods with a group of mental health users that are seen as socially and economically void and ‘unemployable’ Core Arts has identified their skills, highlighted their strengths and developed their confidence allowing them to make a full contribution to society. Core Arts methods both appeal to people who experience mental health issues as outsiders (something common to many an artist) yet at the same time stressing the all important notions of inclusiveness and responsibility for one’s own actions (something enshrined in the central philosophy of Core Arts).

Working always with a focus on the highest safeguarding for all our vulnerable adults we strive to offer an excellent user guided service, with a strong governance:
1 Up to date 2018 Constitution, Memorandum & Articles of Association governing document

  1. Equality & Diversity Policy
  2. Health & Safety Policy
  3. Employers Liability/ Public Indemnity Insurance
  4. Safeguarding Adults at Risk Policy
  5. DBS of all staff, tutors and volunteers
  6. Organisations annual accounts are independently examined and audited
  7. Prevent policy
    9 Core Council our student forum meets every 4 weeks to debate and discuss our programs
    10 Peer led reference groups which are regularly set up and facilitated to keep all students up to date on current issues
    11 Trustee team 75% of which is made up of service users or ex service users
    12 Safeguarding linked directly to NHS services and Care teams.

Core Arts is currently leading innovative projects in London in highly deprived areas, enabling people who are from marginalised groups, such as homeless, people with criminal records, refugee groups and people who suffer complex care needs to get involved in community activity and engender a sense of community achievement, pride and cohesion where excluded and stigmatized people can show their skills and talents and work together to bring about community-led solutions.

Core Arts has a committed, inspirational and professionals in their own field Staff, Tutor and Volunteer team that is passionate about improving the lives of adults suffering from mental health issues. This allows us to provide high quality education and peer to peer creative journeys.

Sustained impact

Here are a selection of our awards for innovation which span 27 years and we strive to continue to innovate in the Creative Arts and Mental Health Fields –

Core Arts Director Paul Monks has personally won numerous awards for his innovation-
*Core Arts are featured in the Science Museum New Medicine Galleries in ‘Rethinking Treatments’, open for the next 25 years. We are represented by our charity founder and Director Paul Monks and we have been chosen to showcase our work as innovators using creative education to improve mental health. For more information please click Link
*Paul Monks won a £15,000 award for UnLtd Social Entrepreneurs Transforming Places Award 2016 UK wide
*In 2006 Paul Monks won the Angela Vivian Award for social entrepreneurs for his drive and vision in meeting the needs of a community in the UK. He donated his £10,000 award to the Core Arts Capital project towards purchasing the freehold of the Centre.

*Core Sports selected awards –
*November 2019 winning the HSJ Mental Health Innovation of the Year Award 2019 and were highly commended in two further categories this project was in in collaboration with our partners. (UK wide)
The Primary Care Mental Health Alliance brings together the GP Confederation (GP practices), ELFT (secondary care mental health), the CEG (healthcare informatics), Core Sports (diet/exercise) and the CCG (commissioning), to deliver and oversee physical health checks and follow up interventions for people with Serious Mental Illness (SMI).
For more information please click Link
*’Mental Health Sports Programme Winners’ Winner Sports and Recreation Alliance Awards 2019 (UK Wide)
*‘Best Sports Club of the Year’ Winner London Sports Awards 2018

*Core Landscape selected awards
Triple award winners -London in Bloom September 2018
“OUTSTANDING” (top Level 5) for ‘It’s Your Neighbourhood Award”,
GOLD in the “London in Bloom” award and
OVERALL WINNER for “Our Community Award” 2018

*Core Arts Creative Centre selected awards-

  • Groundworks Community Awards 2017 Best Community Group Contribution to Health and Wellbeing.
    *Arts Kickers Community Heroes award London 2017
    *Core Arts were the UK wide Lankelly-Chase Digital Empowerment Awards winners of 2014
    *Core Arts has won a prestigious City of London Growing Localities award. Reclaiming and Developing Wasteland Hosted by the City of London Corporation’s charity, City Bridge Trust Greening the third sector 2014 City Bridge Trust
  • Shortlisted to the last 5 for Greening the third sector awards 2014 City of London UK wide
  • In March 2006 Core Arts won the Opening Doors to Adult Learners awarded by Niace
    *In 2001 Core Arts won the International Impact Award (UK) Glaxo.Smith.Kline/Kings Fund for excellence in community healthcare

Outstanding contribution to the mental health and wellbeing sector

Annabel Hodgson

No Limits is an award-winning, local, independent charity providing a unique combination of prevention, early intervention and crisis support to young people, based on a nationally evidenced model. We provide information, advice, counselling and support through a range of services available ‘under one roof’. Set up in 1993 we have grown to support thousands of young people in Southampton and across Hampshire through our Advice Centre and the specialist projects we deliver as well as drop-in sessions in schools/colleges.
We meet the needs of the most deprived, vulnerable and isolated young people who often don’t access mainstream services. By supporting across a wide range of issues including mental health, housing, debt, employment, relationships and sexual health we support young people through the transition from adolescence to adulthood, often helping them climb out of, or avoid, social exclusion. 7,758 children and young people accessed our services last year, of which 1,475 were supported with their mental health and 33% of whom self-identified as being vulnerable. We employ 120 staff and have support from a further 100 students and volunteer workers.
Our core service offers advice and support through our drop-in Advice Centre in Southampton High Street, a friendly, accessible space open for over 40 hours per week, including evenings and weekends. Young people can drop in for a chat and cup of tea without appointment. This flexibility, combined with the non-judgemental, young person-centred approach of the youth workers, mean that many of the barriers to seeking help often faced by vulnerable young people are removed. The youth workers are trusted by the young people – often the only professionals that are seen to be ‘on their side’. From the drop-in, young people can be referred on to our specialist services.
Our specialist services include counselling; therapeutic groups (anger management, anxiety, bereavement); housing and homelessness; substance misuse; vulnerable groups (young carers, care leavers, young offenders, child sexual exploitation); young parents.

Going above and beyond

Having worked in the Youth Work sector for over 30 years, Annabel has had a pivotal role in shaping the provision of mental health support for young people in Southampton and Hampshire. Starting as a Detached Youth Worker on a council estate, Annabel then developed Southampton’s first LGBTQ youth project before starting her role as the CEO at No Limits.

Annabel has built No Limits from a tiny charity with 2 members of staff to a large local charity with 100 staff and 70 volunteers from all over Hampshire. In her first year, No Limits had 600 contacts with children and young people. Last year it had 49,517 contacts. She’s helped to bring significant amounts of funding into Southampton and Hampshire for young people’s mental health support and has campaigned tirelessly – and successfully – for the rights of young people both locally and nationally.

Annabel is passionate in her belief that young people should be given help to reach their potential, including those who are the most vulnerable. Annabel works continually to develop projects to support mental health, including:

  • weekly health and wellbeing drop-in sessions in all secondary schools / colleges in Southampton
  • Primary Mental Health Workers in schools providing targeted, one-to-one mental health support for children and young people in schools and colleges across Southampton
  • Annabel set up and manages Hampshire Youth Access, which provides free, Hampshire-wide counselling for children and young people through 12 local charities
  • Therapeutic groups including mood management, anxiety and bereavement
  • peer support services, including for young carers, care leavers and teenagers suffering anxiety
  • extensive services through our Advice Centre to address root causes of mental health problems and provide a comprehensive, young person-centred approach to mental health, including addressing issues with housing, substance misuse, debt, relationships, domestic violence, sexual exploitation.

“No Limits have been amazing with helping me over the last couple of months I can’t express my gratitude with the many tearful chats and help with paperwork. I really don’t know what I’d have done with their help and support”

Providing young person-centred provision has always been at the heart of Annabel’s vision and she has created strong, city-wide partnerships to make this happen, with both statutory and voluntary sector partners. With Annabel’s leadership, No Limits works closely with a range of agencies who can also provide support and with whom we regularly liaise / refer regarding young people, including CAMHS / AMHS, Local Authority Early Help, GP’s, Substance Misuse services, Housing and Social Care teams, Rape Crisis, Domestic Violence services, LGBTQ+ services, YMCA, Schools, Colleges, Universities, CAB. Annabel has brought huge amounts of funding into the city for multi-agency partnerships including SRB money in the 1990’s (taking No Limits over £1 million income) and significant lottery funds.

Annabel has been/is involved in local, regional and national boards and steering groups including: HeadStart, Future In Mind, GSK Impact Leaders, Solent NHS, Advice Southampton.


No Limits, under the direction of Annabel, has always been innovative in the delivery of its services, trying new things and evaluating them thoroughly.

Three recent examples of innovation are:

  1. We have recently won funding to introduce Primary Mental Health Workers into our Advice Centre, for 18-25 year olds, building on an evidence base built up by our Primary Mental Health work in schools. Mental health support from the PMHWs is the starting point for an ongoing integrated mental health support pathway at our Advice Centre. This mental health support for those in crisis sits alongside our hardship crisis programme, providing a holistic approach for young adults suffering homelessness, family breakdown, debt.

Evidence from Mental Health Matters has shown that young adults often suffer from a lack of early intervention with their mental health, leading to young adults not presenting until they reach a crisis point. Adult mental health commissioners and services in Southampton have identified that there is a population of young adults in Southampton who have ‘emotional dysregulation’ and difficulty tolerating distress but don’t meet the criteria for AMHs or Steps to Wellbeing, the local IAPT offer. In discussion with commissioners, it was clear that many of these young adults access No Limits drop-in services and therefore No Limits could provide an easier access route for young adults to achieve mental health support.

This work will be evaluated by Youth Access, of which Annabel has been a trustee, and the Dept of Applied Health Research at University College London, looking at the role of YIACs in metin the mental health needs of young adults.

  1. In the last few weeks, funding has been secured to pilot a project that will deliver mental health and well-being support to children and young people in the A&E Department at Southampton General Hospital during the Winter months. This is a completely new area for No Limits and another example of innovation. This project will push the boundaries of access to early intervention support for mental health and well-being and reduce the number of young people being discharged from hospital only to return again and again.
  2. We have been awarded funding to take on some outreach work in Southampton, to target the most vulnerable young people who are most likely to commit serious crime. Through our outreach work and the Advice Centre we will provide them with holistic support including support with their mental health through counselling and therapeutic groups.

Annabel puts young people at the heart of No Limits’ development. We continually monitor, evaluate and develop our services with the help of the young people who use them. We gather case studies and data about our interactions with children and young people to monitor the areas of disadvantage that they are facing. 

We invite children and young people to fill out feedback forms on our services, give their feedback via our website, and provide testimonials. We conduct a service-wide ‘Have Your Say’ consultation twice a year, asking service users about their experience of our services and the outcomes they have experienced as a result. Feedback has indicated that the drop-in environment is welcoming and approachable for young people.

Sustained impact

Annabel has grown support for the charity within Southampton and Hampshire and embedded No Limits in all aspects of children and young people’s health and welfare in Southampton. She has gained quality standards and contributes to local/national strategy around young people’s social exclusions. She has always placed children and young people at the heart of her work, developing significant partnerships to ensure sustainable positive outcomes for young people. Over the last 25 years Annabel has built and sustained relationships with both voluntary and statutory services and has strong multi-agency links including with Early Help, Housing, Rape Crisis, Schools, Colleges, Universities, Social Services, CAB, CAMHS, Probation service and the Youth Offending Service.

Working at a strategic level, Annabel has shaped the way the city supports young people, working within the Southampton plan, alongside statutory partners. She has been a trusted professional and, as such, has often been given a seat at decision-making tables, advising statutory bodies on many occasions. Through this trust and experience she has given the voluntary sector a voice in these important forums.

Annabel has also aimed to put children and young people’s participation at the heart of No Limits and empower them by giving them a voice in Southampton, Hampshire and nationwide. She has built lasting partnerships with decision makers, statutory bodies and other voluntary sector organisations to ensure CYP are placed at the heart of decision-making.

Her collaborative rather than competitive approach to service development has benefitted many smaller organisations who receive funding from partnership bids. She set up the Hampshire Youth Access (HYA) partnership, bringing in essential funds for ten smaller partners, some of whom would have been at risk as charities without this partnership funding. The HYA project successfully provides counselling for CYP through smaller partners across Hampshire.

Inspirational Story (under 18s)

We Will

In December 2017, eight young people from West Cumbria had become so despairing about the lack of youth mental health services in their area and the impact it was having on family and friends that they called a public meeting and came together to form the WE WILL youth mental health campaign.

All of the founding members of WE WILL had been impacted directly or indirectly by mental health problems and the lack of support available to young people. They were determined to do something about it and were adamant that as young people they were best placed to make change. Their plan was to gather young people aged 14-18 and to support young people to lead change in how we deal with youth mental health in schools, communities, families and wider circles.

‘Young people have been waiting up to 18 months for specialist mental health support. It’s simply NOT GOOD ENOUGH. No young person should have to suffer like this.’ WE WILL member.

They wanted to have an impact. They wanted to be heard. They wanted to create urgent and lasting change. They wanted to inspire other young people to take action with them. Tired of waiting for other people to make a change in the way that youth mental health is dealt with they knew that in order to make tangible change happen they needed to be passionate but also to be well informed, tactical, strategic, persuasive and practical. They knew however that the issues relating to mental health are complex. They therefore decided to start by doing research. They spent their first year talking to GP’s; friends; school staff; family members; health commissioners and health workers; community leaders and local decision makers. They organised a schools conference with a panel of Heads, teachers and governors and chaired the discussion. They presented to health and community groups, decision makers, funders, business leaders, senior health officials and attended countless meetings in an attempt to understand where they could make a difference.

In May 2019 WE WILL were invited to meet the (former) Mental Health Minister, Jackie Doyle-Price MP and Shadow Minister Barbara Keeley MP. WE WILL accepted the invitation on the promise that one young person from WE WILL could Chair the meetings. They developed the following proposal and pitched it to Minister’s and MP’s…

• We Will is a youth mental health group is based in the Ewanrigg ward of Maryport, Cumbria.

• Ewanrigg is in the 10% most deprived communities in the UK.

• We are one of the furthest constituencies from Westminster.

• A lack of public and third sector mental health support, health services, school nurses and counsellors, public transport, social mobility, accessible jobs and training opportunities compounded with rising mental health problems and rural isolation mean that our young people need urgent help.

• The impact of having to wait up to 18 months for specialist mental health services is having a devastating effect on our young people, their families, friends and schools.

• Young people and their mental health are not being taken seriously enough by those in power and influence in our county and our country.

• We welcome an increase in 2.3 billion for mental health has been announced however we have no confidence that this investment will make an urgent difference to young people in our area.

• Our young people need the youth mental health system to work for them. Now.

• We need visible, urgent improvements in specialist mental health support in Maryport.

• We need to be piloting the initiatives in the NHS Long Term Plan for Children and Young People’s Mental Health. We can’t wait for other areas to get this first and then for the benefits and learning to trickle down to us.

• We can help you to make a start delivering on the commitments that you want to make happen as outlined in the NHS Long Term Plan.

Maryport makes an ideal location for piloting the initiatives outlined below in the NHS Long Term Plan for Children and Young People’s mental health because:

• Our deprivation statistics are significantly higher than North West averages. The need is huge and if we pilot the initiatives the improvement will be huge.

• CAMHS West Cumbria is being taken over by Northumberland Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust creating a timely opportunity to implement new ways of working with a stronger infrastructure and more clinical capacity.

• WE WILL have helped form strong youth mental health partnerships between schools, communities, young people and health groups. We have a track record of delivering bespoke youth led solutions to mental health problems in our area.

• We know that across the NHS we don’t have the whole clinical workforce that is needed but we’re not asking for that today. Many of our requests mean less reliance on the NHS.

• North Cumbria CCG, Cumbria County Council, NTW Foundation Trust and the Lord Bishop of Carlisle support WE WILL’s approach to improving youth mental health.

• By investing into pilot projects to deliver the NHS Long Term Plan initiatives for children and young people’s mental health in West Cumbria in partnership with WE WILL, we can work together to reduce the strain on the mental health system and ensure that young people receive timely support in the family, in the community, in schools and from specialist providers.

• We can help you to make a start delivering on the commitments that you want to make happen as outlined in the NHS Long Term Plan.

Their story

The WE WILL group members undertook their research and looked at what they could do improve youth mental health in their area. The following is what they have achieved/undertaken…

They expanded the group to 15 active committee members with hundreds of supporters and advocates.

All group members are Youth Mental Health First Aid trained. They have helped secure funding for over 300 local parents, teachers, pupils and community workers to gain a qualification in Youth Mental Health First Aid. This number is rising rapidly. After finding YMHFA training to be a vital tool in understanding youth mental health and teaching simple listening skills, the group then went on to encourage others in their community to take the course. The young people work as advocates for YMHFA training – encouraging people to undertake the training and also spread the word. They are also trained to pass on basic YMHFA and suicide alert messages to peers and the wider community. They have worked with the Ewanrigg Local Trust to fund training so that anyone living or working with young people in the Maryport area can access the training (many courses have been offered for free depending on certain criteria). In one of their local secondary schools the group have set up a scheme whereby all teachers and sixth formers who are Youth Mental Health First Aid trained now wear green lanyards that clearly mark them out as a friendly and approachable person for any member of staff or pupil to speak to if they need guidance. Expanding the young people’s work, one of their local secondary schools has become a champion of youth mental health and has successfully secured funding that enables EVERY secondary school in West Cumbria to nominate a member of staff who will access free training to become a qualified Youth Mental Health First Aid Trainer. This secures the sustainability of the above work across West Cumbria. Each secondary school will also offer free training to staff in primary feeder schools.

‘I’ve done my YMHFA qualification. This doesn’t make me a counsellor but it does mean that I’m not afraid to ask someone in school if they are ok and to listen and know what to do if they aren’t. Being approachable and available can make all the difference to someone who has a lot going on in their head. This is why we want to get as many people trained as possible within schools.’ A We Will member.

The group helped recruit other young people and set up youth led mental health groups in their local secondary schools. Supported by the senior leadership team these groups devised and initiated bespoke solutions to the problems they faced. They have written and presented recommendations for schools to improve youth mental health and regularly present these to West Cumbria secondary school cluster meetings see These recommendations include each school having their own bespoke youth led mental health group; a YMHFA trained Governor responsible for mental health for each school and a programme of activity for mental health awareness week.

‘Having a governor who took a lead on improving youth mental health was a complete game changer for us in our school. We had someone who we could go to with our recommendations and who could help us put them forward to the senior team. We met with this Governor and our Head teacher with a list of things that we wanted to do in school to improve youth mental health. We hoped that they might approve one or two. They approved all of them!’

As mentioned above, they wrote and presented recommendations for government and health commissioners to improve youth mental health and presented these in Westminster to the (then) Minister for Mental Health Jackie Doyle-Price MP; Shadow Minister Barbara Keeley MP, Sue Hayman MP and senior civil servants. Meetings in Westminster were also Chaired (at WE WILL members request) by members of WE WILL. The meeting led to Barbara Keeley MP offering to visit West Cumbria to speak to WE WILL and health commissioners to share the trailblazing example in her Manchester constituency, her letter is attached as an appendix. Westminster meetings also opened the door for WE WILL to speak directly to the most senior health officials in the region and campaign for commitments to improve youth mental health services as bullet pointed further down.

West Cumbria is a historically underfunded area. The young people have brought in £10,000 of funding from #IWill to support their campaign. They have also brought in approximately £7000 in funding in kind from people who have heard about the campaign and wanted to offer support. Some examples include film professionals volunteering their time to teach film skills; a professional comedy workshop; a Guardian journalist offering a ‘writing for social causes’ course and a ‘learn how to teach meditation’ course. In addition a mother who lost her son to suicide has been in touch to say that she would like to fundraise to support the group.

WE WILL actively promote the importance of LISTENING. They have made three award nominated films that have reached over 100,000 people. They are also one of only 10 national successful applications for NHS Community Funding in 2010 – this new funding will enable them to make their next film and for it to be distributed by the NHS nationally as well as locally.

Their three films; BOY, WE WILL Listen and WE WILL Campaign can be viewed here.
Boy (HD)

We Will Campaign (HD)
We Will Listen

‘I’ve been struggling with depression. I don’t think teachers understand how much it stops you learning. I feel like I’m in a fog. I can’t hear the teachers. I can’t remember anything. I want to be invisible. Some teachers think that if they shout at me it will motivate me. I’ve done the YMHFA training and I can tell which of my teachers have also done the training as they understand me better, I feel like I can talk to them which of course helps me to learn more.’ We Will member.

WE WILL want their simple message to be communicated globally and to make a difference to how people of all ages and backgrounds support young people. They have given up their time to formulate communication plans and key messages and they learned the strategic benefit of investing in planning their communications. The main message which they have created and want to communicate is:

• Have the courage to talk; have the courage to listen. No-one is alone.

To help spread this message WE WILL have given many interviews.
They have had an almost full page article in the Guardian newspaper, please read the article here The Guardian article resulted in much higher engagement figures than normally experienced in that section of the paper with an unusually high number of comments. The story was shared on to Facebook almost 8,000 times and over 200 people shared their personal stories on the Guardian online page with the feature sparking much debate (some of the comments are included at the end of this nomination).

They have achieved national media attention, inspiring thousands of others to recognise the problem and know how to make a difference.

They met the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to discuss their mental health work and gave them a copy of their film BOY on a USB stick. Hours later the film was played by Kensington Royal Palace and was liked by 170,000 of their followers in 24 hours – a copy of the message is included as an appendix. Please see to view the Instagram post

When the group won a Diana Award for their outstanding contribution to improving youth mental health they were featured globally in the People Magazine which is the USA’s second biggest online magazine see

They have been interviewed for the German equivalent of the BBC see… in Italian online news articles.

They have undertaken media training to help them identify and communicate their key messages; to help them understand how to work with journalists and to understand the parameters and safeguards that they need to put in place around themselves when talking to the media. Local press has covered their activities from the beginning (News & Star, Times & Star) and they have been interviewed for CFM Radio. They have also been interviewed on BBC 5Live breakfast show with Nicky Campbell, appearing alongside local MP Sue Hayman. Their story has been shared on BBC Look North and also on ITV Border News.

The group have actively engaged with other local media opportunities and networks including working with the production team of Maryport Matters, a free 20-page full colour community magazine that is delivered direct to 8,000 homes in the area. They have provided regular articles and helped to create a youth focused special edition in September 2018. This edition carried listening tips created by the group and a self-help mood awareness cheat sheet for young people.

The group have given assemblies to local schools to convey their mental health messages. The last assembly they gave was filmed by CBBC for a half hour documentary about youth mental health which is due to be aired in February 2020 on Time to Talk Day. The documentary follows one of WE WILL’s group members on a journey to find out how better nutrition, more sport and relaxation exercises can help improve mental health and includes interviews with the WE WILL group.

‘You don’t leave a person in a burning building for four hours. Why is it acceptable that young people have no out of hours mental health crisis care other than going to A&E?’ WE WILL member.

WE WILL are currently planning their next two films to be made early in the New Year. One film will focus on their main campaign message for 2020 which is Just Listen – how to communicate with and listen better to young people. In the past few months alone WE WILL have presented to over 1000 people locally including employers; school pupils; Rotarians; health commissioners; philanthropists and health workers. Demand for them to present is greater than the time they have available therefore they are working with key stakeholders to create a film that can help them reach more people with vital mental health messages and specifically listening skills. For example North West Ambulance Service who employ nearly 5,000 staff have said that as staff training they will commit to regularly sharing a WE WILL Just Listen film. The other film has been commissioned by the NHS national Communication and Engagement Team and aims to inspire other people to learn from WE WILL and to take a lead in their community to improve health and wellbeing.

The group have initiated meetings with local health service providers including GPs, CAMHS, counsellors, social workers etc. in order to research the issue and talk to them about potential areas for change. They have organised round table discussions, debates, taken part in questionnaires and surveys and constantly chased up to date statistics and information that can help strengthen the campaign for change. The group has actively engaged with local politicians and local authority figures throughout the campaign (including town councillors, county councillors and local MPs).

‘It’s almost impossible to get accurate, up to date useful statistics about our local youth mental health services but we managed to find out that the number of referrals of young people from West Cumbria to CAMHS quadrupled in the previous year. QUADRUPLED! This statistic helped us to push open doors, ask really challenging questions and continue to demand action and improvement.’ WE WILL member.

Having evaluated their achievements in 2019 WE WILL decided that whilst they had reached and influenced many people, their aim for 2020 should be to gain more commitment from people to improve youth mental health. They have refocused their campaign and are now putting plans in place to secure the following commitments…

  1. Gain commitment from health commissioners to meet what we call our 4 x 4’s target
    • 4 week waiting times for specialist youth mental health services (inc CAMHS and MyTime)
    • Young people in crisis to be seen within 4 hours
    • A mental health specialist available 4 all schools
    • Youth mental health services to be accessible 4 young people aged up to 25 years of age.
  2. Gain commitment from West Cumbria schools, community groups and employers to implement a mental health policy which includes a named YMHFA governor/board member responsible for overseeing…
    • Putting in place a YMHFA training plan for staff and volunteers
    • A plan for mental health awareness week including watching and sharing our films
    • Clear signposting so people know where to go if help is needed
  3. Gain commitment from members of the public to watch and share our youth mental health awareness films (including a package of new films) during Mental Health Awareness Week May 2020

In order to pursue the above commitments the group have put forward the commitments outlined above to key individuals and have already set up meetings for the coming months. They have encountered no barriers and in fact due to their positive working relationships and reputation have been welcomed to meet with the Chairs of local health trusts, Secondary Head Teacher clusters and a number of large employers including Sellafield Ltd.

As far as we know WE WILL are unique in being a youth initiated partnership of young people from different schools and colleges who have established themselves with the goal of improving youth mental health. When the group formed only a couple of them knew each other before. These young people have driven forwards and undertaken their own research. They have identified problems and opportunities and formulated their own strategy and campaign plan even down to creating their own logo and strapline ‘Have the courage to talk; have the courage to listen. No-one is alone.’

The impact of the group’s activities has been huge. Their voluntary research has been absolutely vital – not only in shaping their campaign, but also in sharing knowledge and understanding across ages and sectors. As young people, they have not only managed to make their voice heard more clearly and loudly than perhaps adults could have, they have also doggedly asked forthright and challenging questions until they have gained the information needed or found a way forward. They have had boundless energy and enthusiasm and have pursued issues that may have been dropped by adults who sadly don’t have the time or have had to prioritise other things due to budget restraints, capacity etc. Lots of this research and ‘enquiring’ has resulted in practical and visible changes.

Going above and beyond

These young people face individual and collective obstacles with a fierce, selfless and socially minded determination. They made the decision at the beginning to focus on creating lasting change rather than discussing their own personal stories. These young people have given an estimated 3000 volunteer hours since they started the campaign. This would be extraordinary for anyone but is phenomenal considering the personal challenges that they face. Examples of some of these challenges is as follows…

Time – all involved have been dealing with enormous academic pressure; on top of which many have jobs which involve working every weekend as well as weekday evening shifts.

Caring responsibilities – some of the young people are caring for grandparents, parents and siblings with poor physical/mental health.

Personal challenges – some of the group struggle with their own mental health without specialist support available to them. Several in the group struggle with health conditions which affects their ability to participate in ‘normal’ activities.

Financial – many in the group live in the most deprived areas of the UK and are working in paid jobs to provide for every day necessities and to support their families.

Geography – compared to most other areas we have less available public and third sector mental health support, health services, public transport, social mobility, jobs and training opportunities. All of this, with rural isolation contributes to mental health problems as well as making it more difficult and expensive to study, to access health support, to volunteer and to work.

Access to mental health support – those in the group who are struggling with their own mental health challenges have waited on average over 12 months for CAMHS or Tier 2 support. Support when received is of varying quality. Ongoing recruitment issues mean that it is not unusual for mental health providers to be on long term sick and/or leave at short notice leaving posts unfilled often for long periods.

Despite all of these daily challenges, these young people contribute thousands of hours of their time to help others and are determined to continue to find a way of ensuring that young people can and will access the right youth mental health support in the near future. What surprises people who meet this group is that not only are they passionate, selfless and motivated, but they know ‘their stuff.’ They do their research and they put their point across in their own words, in their own style and with so much persuasiveness and planning that they are a force to be reckoned with and are truly making a difference in their community.

We all know that it is difficult to make change. In an area like West Cumbria when the population is mostly intransient and people are isolated by the sea on one side and mountains on the other, cultural change can feel almost impossible. The group have had to learn how to deal with people who are resistant to change and/or unwilling to engage with them. They have had to learn to respond politely and respectfully and to know when to be persistent and when to ‘return to the drawing board.’ They have to continually review their campaign strategy, weighing up which doors to ‘push at’ and how to focus their limited resources most effectively.

‘People think that because we live in Cumbria we live in a chocolate box of pretty cottages, lakes and mountains. They don’t get past the Lake District to see the poverty, the daily grind and the isolation.’ WE WILL member

Ewanrigg, where the campaign is based is in one of the 10% most deprived wards in the UK. High rates of child poverty, incapacity claims and worklessness are combined with poor access to transport and services. The nearest A&E to Ewanrigg is a 30 minute drive away. One WE WILL member bravely gave an interview to our local press explaining that when she had a mental health crisis the ‘out of hours’ answerphone message told her that she must get to A&E however 42% of residents in this area have no access to their own transport. This is a classic example of the kind of challenge that young people here face and that their campaign seeks to address. The young people liaised with local youth mental health services and the newspaper to do a front page article in the local newspaper and online a few weeks before Christmas putting pressure on the commissioner to do more for young people in crisis in Cumbria and signposting young people and their loved ones to crisis hotlines that would be available 24 hours a day during the festive period.

One of the things about this group that makes them so unusual is that they are a group of young people leading change. The young people approached their local community development organisation (the Ewanrigg Local Trust) with a germ of an idea who have provided them with the operational support to explore and develop their ideas and to apply for small pots of funding to help cover costs such as travel. They have been supported to make their own decisions regarding the direction of the campaign, what things they want to change and how they are going to do it. They have been supported to carry out their own research, work out their priorities and decide on their activities. They have been supported with training so they could formulate their own slogan (“Have the courage to talk; the courage to listen. No-one is alone.”) their own key messages and their own branding. At each stage of the process they have made their own decisions on how they want to get their messages across. They chose to use film as a medium. With no adult input they wrote their own script and their own storyboards. The Ewanrigg Local Trust put them in touch with a local film crew who offered to help with the practicalities and the equipment and who were so impressed with the young people and their potential they helped them to make their first film and wouldn’t take any payment for time, travel or equipment. In 2020 they are chasing commitments to change regarding youth mental health so have decided to work in small teams, dividing themselves into representatives who ‘take on’ either health commissioners, schools, community and employers.

‘We as adults would have meetings after meetings to achieve what WE WILL manage to get done straight away.’ Media expert on meeting WE WILL.

Their campaign was started on the basis that ‘they were sick of waiting for other people to make a change and decided to do something it about themselves.’ Taking responsibility and taking action are two qualities that are vital to the survival of our society. WE WILL have demonstrated both of these repeatedly – and to great effect. As a skilled, passionate and determined group they have proven that young people are best placed to create a culture change and visible change with adults listening to the needs and recommendations of young people. Their energy, their approach to problem solving, their well-researched knowledge about mental health, their capacity to understand complex problems and come up with deliverable solutions continues to inspire and demonstrate to adults the value of involving young people in decision making.

Encouraging others to take a stand, encouraging others to make their voice heard, encouraging others to be part of the solution…. These are the sorts of values that make great role models. These are the sort of young people we need in our future. The group will be three years old in December 2020 and will arguably have achieved more for their community in these three years than many people will achieve in a lifetime.

What do others say?

I wanted to thank the We Will group – through you – for their time and energy in our meeting last week.

We were all impressed by the commitment and positive approach taken to improving the support available for young people.

I think some strong connections have been made between the group and the health system and I am keen that we keep that going at a practical level, and at a senior leadership level. We all took away issues to progress.

I’d like to suggest that we have a catch up with the group in the Autumn, but I am also aware of the need for us to schedule this at a time which is convenient and accessible for the group.

Many thanks again.

Best wishes

Professor Robin Talbot
Cumbria Partnership NHS FT

The WE WILL group is a very impressive collaborative of young people from the community reaching into different schools across the area. Their approach – although motivated by disappointment with NHS services – has been positive, innovative and about driving a better future.

The group has secured the support of their community, their schools, their local authority and our CCG. It has worked with local councillors and the local MP and visited parliament to meet shadow ministers. Their work was showcased on a royal visit to Prince William and Kate who praised them for their approach and achievements.

There are no easy answers to the challenges caused by increasing demand, fragility within NHS service and our CCG has recently been through a lengthy process of recommissioning mental health services with a larger Trust to help support sustainability and improvement of services. Our teams are very supportive of the approach taken by the group and their approach to developing support that is relevant and accessible to their peers.

The young people have been commended by the local newspaper group in their education awards and in the Cumbria Diversity Awards.

On a personal level I have met the young people many times over the last couple of years and have always been impressed by their professionalism, their energy and the way they care for their team. They are fantastic. They will deliver this work and be valuable in sharing really good practice.

Julie Clayton
Head of Communications and Engagement
NHS North Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group

On behalf of the High Sheriff of Cumbria and her guests, thank you and your amazing group of young people so much for the fantastic visit yesterday. Our group thoroughly enjoyed meeting the enthusiastic young people and were so impressed with their well-prepared presentation on mental health support for young people. They said it was very well presented and the videos were “extremely well-produced, focused and punchy”. We wish you continued success with your valuable work and thank you again for showcasing it with us. Kind regards, Kristine

Please can I thank the WE WILL group for coming and speaking at our ‘This is me’ event. You could have heard a pin drop during your talk and I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house. Every single person that I spoke to was overwhelmed with what you have achieved and learnt something about how they can support young people. I spoke to someone who was there and who the following day was talking to his daughter who was worried about her friend, he signposted her to your website and videos which I know had a positive impact. Police Inspector Annette McClement

I’m astounded once more! What an unbelievably talented, motivated and courageous group of young people they are. I have shared a link on my Twitter feed and I hope there has been lots of traction around this conversation during the week. It goes without saying that if they ever need some support, advice, someone to talk to, workshops, panel discussions, whatever I’d be happy to get involved. Please feel free to share my email. Thanks again and please pass on my deepest regards and respect to these wonderful people. Clive Judd Theatre Director

Echoing what Clive said – it’s amazing what you and the group are doing. Really can’t tell you how important it is and how inspiring I find it. Speaking to the group was still one of the most moving moments of last year, and have been talking about it to so many people since. And yeah, again what Clive said, – any support or anything like that just give me a shout. Simon Longman Playwright.

I’m surrounded by men – “geezers”, who are woefully under equipped and have no outlet for their fears and emotions. Instead, they, we, put on a facade and self-medicate through alcohol and the rest. I’ve been thinking about starting down the studying counselling route for a while now, reading your post has spurred me on, so thank you.” Guardian online comment responding to the WE WILL feature in the Guardian.

“Obviously the factor that caused this is the first place is a travesty but the response by these young people is the most uplifting story I’ve read in ages. Guardian online comment responding to the WE WILL feature in the Guardian.

Of course CAMHS needs to be funded to meet needs but it really needs to be seen for what it is, a clinical service for young people with mental health issues. It’s currently overwhelmed by young who’ve been pushed to the brink of ill health by external pressure that’s beyond their control.
Clinically diagnosed mental health conditions occur throughout the population and should be treated as quickly as possible to help the people concerned.
What we’re seeing in this example is an unnecessary level of stress being placed on young people creating mental and physical ill health. These young people did for themselves what we should be doing for all of them. They listened to each other and gave the space to breathe and realise that they weren’t alone. The thing is the factor causing the stress in the first place is mostly imposed upon them by the very people nominally in charge of their welfare.
We’ve chosen not to do anything about social media so they’re free to prey on our kids. We’ve made schools into academies with “management” on telephone number sized salaries who know their job is on the line if the results don’t come through: that goes all the way through the school from teachers to the poor sods in year 9 who’ve just found out that they’ve got to choose what they want to do for the rest of their lives and must get it right or they’ll shame the school, parents and themselves.
Add to this mix being a teenager in a world where adults have effectively decided we’re collectively fucked and given up trying to make a better world and bingo you’ve got this article. Kids realising the adult world isn’t the same as a “grown up” world and realising they need to do it for themselves.
I hope these young people go on to be the leaders they and their peers deserve not the bloated morally bankrupt lickspittles my generation has inflicted on the country.
The current situation in this country, irrespective of your viewpoint, is a test for anyone over thirty. We either decide enough is enough and show those in charge that playtime is over and they’d better tidy up pronto, or we become remembered as the generation who betrayed its children.
Whatever happens with Brexit, climate change and the global economy we’ll pass on to our young the world they’ll think we wanted for them. That can either be a blessing or a curse but it’s the responsibility of us all and we need to wake up and start expecting more from ourselves and especially the people to whom we give the privilege of power.” Guardian online comment responding to the WE WILL feature in the Guardian.

Inspirational story (over 18s)

Ben West

At the age of 18, Ben West discovered his brother in his bedroom and as first on the scene, gave him CPR as he waited for the emergency services to arrive. Ben has used his personal experience of mental ill health to raise awareness and has taken his story to No.10.

Their story

Losing someone you love is heartbreaking and can affect all areas of your life, both personally and professionally. To go through such deep personal loss and create something positive from it, which will help others affected by mental ill health, takes real courage. That’s exactly what Ben has done. This amazing 18 year old organised a 200km walk across Kent while studying for his A’Levels to raise awareness of mental ill health. He did all this while grieving for his 15 year old brother Sam who took his life in 2018. As you would expect, this tragic event crushed Sam’s family and friends. None more so than big brother Ben. No one can imagine the impact something like that has, unless you’ve experienced it yourself. Ben, his family and friends want to help prevent anyone from having to go through that experience. He knows it will take some time, but together with Mum Michelle, Dad Chris and brother Tom, they’re determined to use their experience to make a difference. Project #Walktotalk all started on a train journey when Ben had his very own light bulb moment. Grabbing his phone he quickly set about rallying the troops – ‘how about raising awareness by walking across Kent?’ Eleven close friends quickly jumped on board and the 200km walk across Kent was created. Ben admits it wasn’t easy. “Organising the event wasn’t straight forward. I’d been involved in charity events before but never organised anything!” Thankfully he wasn’t alone and friends and family started to throw in ideas which saw the project grow to more than 450 people taking part in stages of the walk across ten days. Studying and organising the event whilst still grieving for his brother was tough. With everything going on, it was hard to ignore that it had the potential to take its toll. “Revising was difficult, it was hard to focus and naturally affected how well I could revise. However I soon found that organising the walk helped me to clear my mind and focus better. It gave me a little bit of an escape. From the beginning I knew that the walk was something positive I could do to focus my attention. It kept me in a much better place.” The project soon became so big that more and more of his friends pitched in. “None of us had any experience doing this sort of thing, it’s been a complete step in the dark for all of us, but we’ll take all that experience and put it to making an even better event next year.” The walk ended in London outside the Houses of Parliament and the team have been praised by celebrities, MPs and the Prime Minister at the time, Theresa May. “Receiving that letter from Theresa May meant so much, it was the recognition that we’re really starting to make a difference. All the messages of support have shown us that we’ve found something here, it’s really helping people and we have to keep it going.” With the 2018 walk completed, there’s no sign that team West will be stopping anytime soon. Mum Michelle is giving speeches at conferences to encourage teachers to take part in Mental Health First Aider training and the team have raised over £15,000, from the #Walktotalk event, to help develop more mental health awareness projects. In 2019, they carried out more Kent based events but Ben is looking to encourage others to plan their own. “We’re putting together plans to help people run their own events under the #Walktotalk banner. We’ve had so many positive messages and comments about the project, it’s important to us to expand on what we’ve already achieved. We’ve learned from what we’ve done so far and now others can take that and build on it themselves. Together we’ll keep learning, keep raising awareness.”
Ben is now attending the University of Liverpool while studying Aerospace Engineering and is looking to organise events local to him. “Jonny Benjamin, MBE, a mental health campaigner, put me in touch with some mental health champions in Liverpool. I’m meeting with them so we can bounce ideas of each other to see how we can work together, including an awareness event. I’m also in touch with the University leadership to find out more about a project they are doing to increase the awareness of student support.”
Knowing full well that education is the key to arming people with advice on mental ill health prevention and messages of where to get help, team West are currently encouraging everyone to sign a ‘Save Our Students’ petition calling for mental health first aid training to become compulsory for teachers. “The Department for Education is encouraging schools to have mental health first aiders but unfortunately many schools are happy with just one but it’s not enough for the amount of students they have. We must not stop until every teacher has the training. You don’t need the school to put you forward and many charities are subsiding costs. Anyone can take part and it all goes towards making sure someone is there for those in need.” With more than 178,000 signatures, there’s still room for more.

Above and beyond

Ben is a true inspiration. Not only has he taken a tragedy and turned it into an opportunity but he has continued his studies and works hard on his own personal life too. His dedication is outstanding.

What do others say about them?

11 October 2019
Despite his grief over his brother’s suicide, Ben West launched a campaign to make mental health awareness mandatory in teacher training. Boris Johnson invited him to Downing Street to present his petition. Let’s hope that vision becomes a Conservative Education Policy.

ITV News Meridian
Oct 5, 2019
Our @PrideOfBritain winners: east and west of the region. Ben West from Frittenden, Kent, raised awareness about mental health after his teenage brother took his own life.

Ann Booth-Clibborn

Sep 5, 2018
Respect to the incredible Ben West and his #walktotalk team arriving at Westminster at 4.30 after a 10 day walk from Cranbrook School, Kent to raise awareness of mental health after the death of Sam his 15 yr old brother. It’s OK to be not OK

Channel 5 News

Oct 23, 2019
This student is calling for compulsory mental health training for teachers after he lost his younger brother, Sam, to suicide.

Ben West is determined to save others from the same pain by campaigning for mental health awareness.

News UK
Oct 17, 2019
The Sun Who Cares Wins Mental Health Hero, Ben West, writes for @TheSun today on why we must teach schools to be happy places. Read here: #WhoCaresWins19

Liverpool Guild Student Media
Nov 20, 2019
‘Liverpool Guild Student Media has recently interviewed Ben West, in which his campaign about raising awareness for mental health issues amongst teenagers was discussed.’

Thank you for the interview @iambenwest!

NHS England Media
Oct 8, 2019
Ben West wins @TheSun’s #WhoCaresWins19 Mental Health Hero Award! Read Ben’s story of his passion and determination around mental health for his late brother, Sam. @katesilverton and @MattHancock present him with his award: #NHSHeroes

Emma Mulqueeny OBE

Aug 28, 2018
Am taking part in #projectwalktotalk with our #boysgetsadtoo tee shirts. We are doing this in support of Ben West and his walk for teenage mental health in memory of his brother Sam. and Boys Get Sad Too here

The Lifestyle Award

Start to end suicide

Evidence tells us that stigmatising attitudes result in people being less likely to get help or give help. If we don’t speak up about persistent stigma, we are at risk of perpetuating a society where we remain reluctant to reach out for help for ourselves or to support others.

This is why ‘Reach Out; Start to End Suicide’ was setup, it is dedicated to the prevention of suicide. It is based on the foundation belief that suicide is preventable and everyone has a role to play in preventing suicide. START utilising its foundation within therapeutic arts developed incredibly innovative interventions that: proactively engage with the Salford community; provide support and hope to those directly affected by suicide; and challenge stigma.

It has brought together the people of Salford as they build resilience, caring, save lives and end the stigma that surrounds mental illness and suicide. It is a people’s movement that is delivering outstanding results. We aim for a community that makes it the norm and acceptable to feel free to discuss their feelings and told that they matter. Through raising public awareness, education and equipping people with the confidence to have conversations, to support those at risk of suicide, we know we can save lives being lost and contribute to reducing suicides in Salford.

Salford suffers from very significant health inequalities, average health levels in the city are much worse than the national average. Typical life expectancy for Salford residents is three years less than for England as a whole, and with average life expectancy in the city’s most deprived areas is 10.6 years lower for men and 10.3 years lower for women than in its least deprived areas. (PHE,2017). ‘Reach Out; Start to End Suicides’ is focused on strengthening community action and overcoming health inequalities through having the community at the heart of this project. ‘Reach Out; Start to End Suicide’ encourages health behaviour change among the general population of Salford. It is disseminating behaviourally focused messages with the intent of influencing the decision making processes of individuals in Salford. We are decreasing stigma, raising suicide knowledge and increasing the public’s confidence to help people who may be struggling. The scale and reach of the project is critical in reaching at-risk individuals who have not engaged with the health care system and are at high risk of suicide.

Above and beyond

Reach Out; Start to End Suicide’ maximised its impact through its innovation and delivery of:
• 250+ people attending ‘Vigil of Remembrance’ which harnesses the community in support of those that have lost loved ones to suicide. It delivers support and destigmatises the grieving of a loved one lost to suicide. It provides education on suicide prevention and the roles that everyone can play in ending suicide while instilling hope through performance and participatory arts.
• ‘Surviving Suicide; voices of suicide and attempt survivors’, brought together 18 suicide/attempt survivors within a therapeutic arts setting that allowed healing and support. Suicide/attempt survivors created art works that communicate their stories and experiences of suicide and the impact that it has had on their life. Participants reported 111% increase in their mental health & wellbeing. 100% also reported increases: in confidence/self-esteem; social activity/less isolated and more connected to their community. These results directly reduced the incidences of suicidal ideation and increased crisis awareness and support. These artworks are touring Salford as educational/engagement tools accessible to all Salford residents.
• 2,000 Salfordian pledges of support on yellow cut-out hands are planted to make up ‘Sea of Hands of Support’, a participatory art installation, as a mass display of support for anyone who is suicidal. This highly impactful engagement tool allowed over 3,000 conversations that enabled people to identify warning signs of suicide and empowered them to start a conversation that can save a life. 96% of those who engaged with ‘Sea of Hands of Support’ reported increased awareness of suicide prevention.
• Last year ‘Turn Yellow for Suicide Prevention’ grew to 1,239 suicide prevention promotional materials displayed across 277 sites.
• ‘Builders Lunch’ saw us attend worksites where we fed 271 construction workers pizza. They are the hardest to reach and highest risk profession of suicide. We chatted about mental health and suicide prevention. 97% reported an increased awareness of suicide prevention.


Reach Out; Start to End Suicide is effecting meaningful change with its multi-faceted community focused suicide prevention intervention. Every facet of the intervention is innovative within its own right, and collectively reaches out to the Salford community in a scale that hasn’t been seen in Salford before.

‘Reach Out; Start to End Suicide’ is Salford’s first orchestrated suicide prevention programme of activities that include:

• The ‘Vigil of Remembrance’ is the first of its kind with in Greater Manchester and harnesses the community in support of those that have lost loved ones to suicide. It delivers support and destigmatises the grieving of a loved one lost to suicide and enables reflection on the person rather than the act of suicide itself. It also provides a platform for education on suicide prevention and the roles that everyone can play in ending suicide and instilling hope. The vigil is also a participatory event as we have a procession of remembrance which see loved ones of those lost to suicide carry flags in a procession that marks the opening of the vigil. In 2018 we had 109 flags which grew to 126 in 2019, these represent the lives lost in Salford over the previous five years.
• ‘Turning Salford Yellow for Suicide Prevention’ educates and empowers Salford’s community, on mass, to meaningfully connect with people around them, raise awareness, improve community attitudes and increase public dialogue on suicide, while improving the community’s resilience, saving lives and challenge stigma on a scale never before seen across the region or the country.
• ‘Surviving Suicide; voices of suicide and attempt survivors’, in a first in the country brought together suicide and attempt survivors within a therapeutic setting that allowed healing and support for all. The suicide and attempt survivors created art works that communicate their stories and experiences of suicide and the impact that it has had on their life with the support of bereavement and mental health support workers. These artworks on another first tour Salford as educational and engagement tools accessible to all Salford residents.
• ‘Builders Lunch’ is the first time this type of innovative approach to public health has been used for this target audience. It goes direct to the workplaces of this hardest to reach at risk group, with suicide being the largest killer of men aged 49 and under, and men aged 15-29 years of age, and especially within the construction and contracting industry where male site workers in construction are three times more likely to die by suicide than the average UK male. Our outreach workers talk to the workers about mental health, suicide prevention and getting support.

Sustained impact

In 2018 Start Inspiring Minds celebrated its 25th year of delivering creative therapeutic arts to those experiencing mental ill health. One of our staff members suggested that we channel our energies into make real change through a campaign preventing suicide in Salford. Sadly, we have lost several members through suicide. Our communication lead who is a suicide attempt survivor himself setting up the campaign and firstly finding out what was needed through talking to our community.

We spoke with 7 attempt survivors and 6 people that have lost family or friends to suicide in Salford, all of them said that there needs to be more education within the community about what the warning signs are, how to support people who are suicidal, and how to start a conversation with someone who they suspect is feeling suicidal. A suicide attempt survivor said “I was desperate, I couldn’t reach out and speak to anyone, I thought that I would be a burden, it would have made a huge difference if someone, anyone noticed that I was hurting and desperate, but I couldn’t”. A suicide survivor who lost their mother to suicide said “If only I knew what the warning signs were and how to talk to her, what to say, it would have saved her. I could have saved her, now I live with the guilt everyday”. She went on “We need to be taught how to spot warning signs, it would make such a big difference knowing what to look out for and how to help them”. When consulting by a questionnaire with 22 people with no experience of suicide, 86% would not be able to identify warning signs of suicide, and 77% not being able to identify who they could contact to get support for someone that was feeling suicidal apart from the emergency services. 90% said that they didn’t have the knowledge of how to ask or support someone if they were feeling suicidal.

Reflecting on his own recovery from being a suicide attempt survivor and the research he carried out he developed the tools that are now what we very proudly call Reach Out; Start to End Suicide. We place lived experience at the heart of this project, which has delivered incredible results over the past two years. We look forward to continue to start conversations that save lives in Salford.