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New mental health and wellbeing service to launch in Suffolk

An exciting and innovative mental health and wellbeing initiative will be launched in Suffolk this year, through a newly formed partnership between three organisations.

Suffolk Libraries, Suffolk Family Carers and Suffolk Mind have been awarded funding to work with a number of other Suffolk organisations to increase access to mental health and wellbeing information and support across the country.

The partnership will develop an information phone line, signposting service and community based groups. The whole initiative will build on existing community activities and links, improving the spread of information available and providing safe spaces for groups, drop-ins and information events. A dedicated service provided by Suffolk Family Carers will offer specific assistance to those who care for people living with mental health needs.

Martin Jones, Mental Health and Substance Misuse Team Manager for Suffolk Family Carers, said: "we are pleased to join Suffolk Mind and Suffolk Libraries in partnership. The new service will maintain the provision of information, advice and guidance services for family carers and families across Suffolk with opportunities to become more involved and shape the services they receive."

The partnership will also be underpinned by a new volunteering scheme with Suffolk Mind which will see up to ten volunteers recruited and trained across Suffolk. The scheme will encourage signposting and provide peer support in the community, enabling a wider reach and opportunities for residents of Suffolk to get involved.

Christina Perea, Volunteer & Ecotherapy Service Manager for Suffolk Mind, said: "we are excited to be part of this new partnership. Our new volunteers (peer mentors) will help people who need some encouragement or advice on what they can do to support their mental wellbeing and better meet their emotional and physical needs so they are more emotionally resilient and happier."

Suffolk Libraries will continue to develop its staff, resources and the Open Space group, which currently provides a relaxed drop-in environment in Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds Libraries. Suffolk Libraries works in partnership with Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust and Julian Support to offer this service.

Sarah Lungley, Mental Health and Wellbeing Coordinator for Suffolk Libraries, said: "we are very pleased to be a part of this fantastic new partnership. Previously our information service, New Chapters, has provided and supported wellbeing information to thousands of customers across the county and we believe this new partnership will help us gain an even wider reach and encourage many more people to ask for help and guidance when they need it."

The funding has been awarded by Suffolk’s Mental Health Pooled Fund (a combination of Suffolk County Council and Suffolk’s Clinical Commissioning Groups) and is the first of its kind. Previously, Suffolk Libraries and Suffolk Family Carers have received funding to provide information services on an individual basis but commissioners are hoping that the new partnership and a three year contract will help build a more sustainable service, and increase resilience in Suffolk.

Jason Joseph, Suffolk County Council’s Commissioning Manager for Adult and Community Services, said: "Suffolk County Council are proud to have awarded this grant to this exciting partnership, on behalf of the Mental Health Pooled Fund partnership. It builds on Suffolk’s ambition to improve people’s mental health and wellbeing."

An implementation phase will begin in April 2017, which will involve designing the service, rolling out new projects and engaging stakeholders. The partnership is keen for members of the public and those with lived experience to get involved to ensure the new service will provide the provision people want and need, and ultimately help improve people’s wellbeing.

  • If you are interested in being a part of designing this new service, please complete our information and wellbeing survey or email mentalhealth@suffolklibraries.co.uk

  • If you are looking for information, advice or guidance for carers, please call 01473 835455 or email MH@suffolkfamilycarers.org

  • If you would be interested in becoming a peer mentor, please email christina.perea@suffolkmind.org.uk