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Proud Preston: How our city has championed mental health support in 2019

Posted on - 24th December, 2019 - 7:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Charities, Health, People, Preston News
 Pic: David Goehring
Those needing help are being urged to call a mental health helpline Pic: David Goehring

Christmas and the end of the year is always a time to reflect.

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We’re no different here at Blog Preston. The news we’ve covered in 2019 has included every genre and although its important to keep you all informed on the latest events, traffic and crime news, the stories of proud Prestonians helping their community become a better place are always close to our hearts.

We’ve put together a list of those stories we covered this year where the people of Preston gained more support with mental health issues.

In April 2019, Menhear was formed by William Killeen. The non-profit organisation offers one-to-one and group sessions to help Preston’s men manage their mental health.

Menhear drop-in sessions give men the chance to engage in a one-to-one, person-centred chat at their convenience. This can include socialising, mentoring, or simply having someone to listen and talk to.

Read more: How this new group is telling Preston’s men it’s okay not to be okay

The national network of peer support groups, Mental Health Mates arrived in Preston this year.

Monthly Mental Health Mates walks was started by Laura Webster and from September, the walks started taking place on a monthly basis around Avenham Park.

Laura said: “The walks are for everyone, not just those of us who suffer with mental health issues, but as a preventative measure for people who may feel lonely or are struggling with their thoughts. It’s also for friends and families of sufferers to remind each other we are not alone.

“The walks and this group is not intended to replace or give medical advice and support, only as a place to feel part of a ‘we or us’ so as not to feel so alone with our mental health. We are all in this together.”

Read more: Be a ‘mental health mate’ and join these monthly walks in Preston

In the summer we covered how a peer support group was providing a safe space for Prestonians living with depression, anxiety or similar distress.

PeerTalk in Preston is part of a UK network of volunteer-facilitated peer support group meetings. While not classed as a treatment or therapy, PeerTalk meetings offer support with no waiting lists and no referrals needed.

Two trained volunteers facilitate the meetings, and those attending can offload and be heard, while sharing their advice and opinions with each other.

Read more: There’s a ‘safe space’ in Preston for people living with depression

In October, PeerTalk launched a new session aimed at adults aged around 18 to 30, in collaboration with the University of Central Lancashire.

Read more: New peer support group launching for Preston 18-30s facing depression

Rachel outside The Larder
Rachel outside The Larder after her first meet up

A woman from Longridge launched an online peer support group to help people facing mental health challenges.

Rachel Phoenix started the Preston branch of Blackburn-based group Rise and Shine on Facebook in September. The group’s feed consists of positive quotes, links to useful resource, and personal posts from members.

The long-term plan for Rise and Shine is to become a registered charity and expand across Lancashire.

Read more: Longridge woman launches new branch of friend’s online mental health support group

By November Rachel began holding weekly Rise and Shine meetings in Preston city centre so people aged 18 and above can also access peer support in person if they wish.

Read more: Preston-based online mental health support group now meeting in person

In August 2019, Wonderful Women, a non-profit organisation serving women in Preston, launched to increase women’s access to social opportunities.

Founder Leanne Dempsey believes social networks help us to thrive and that group activities improve our health and wellbeing, as well as our connections to whatever we need in our lives.

She said: “I want there to be a network for women in every local area, so women have this community they can dip in and out of to make friends and try activities. We are starting with simple, relaxed activities like the monthly Walk for Women.”

Read more: Wonderful Women aims to empower Preston’s females

Some of the volunteers from Let's Grow Preston
Some of the volunteers from Let’s Grow Preston

A Preston charity that encourages a community of green spaces grew its impact across the city this year. Let’s Grow Preston aims to create and support a network of volunteer-led community green space and growing projects in and around Preston.

Some of their volunteers reported significant improvements to their health and wellbeing and one of them even said that the garden had saved his life. He joined while he was suffering from depression and came along to the site as often as he chose, there was no pressure to talk, but he found that being useful and engaging with the site really helped his mental health. 

Read more: Creating green spaces and saving lives – how this Preston charity is growing its impact

There was also a new crowdfunding campaign launched this year which was aimed at tacking loneliness in Preston and across Lancashire.

At the heart of the Age Concern Central Lancashirecampaign is Lonk the Lonely Sheep, created by cartoonist Tony Husband. Lonk is sad and lonely until a group of socially conscious sheep on a neighbouring hillside realise that Lonk needs help, and collectively agree they ‘give a flock’ and spring into action.

Chief Executive of Age Concern Suzanne Carr said: “Never before has Age Concern faced such an unprecedented demand from vulnerable adults across Lancashire.

“Estimates suggest that 35,000 older people are chronically lonely and isolated. Nobody should face these problems alone.”

Read more: New ‘What The Flock’ crowdfunder to tackle loneliness in Preston and beyond

In May a website launched aiming to showcase what a helpful and caring city Preston is. Help in Preston brings together information for those needing help in the city.

Covering benefits, food access, learning, working, volunteering, money advice, health and wellbeing, housing and homelessness the website also includes emergency contact information for a whole host of services.

Read more: New website launched to assist people in Preston to find help

A new gallery exploring how art can improve wellbeing opened in September at the Harris. The idea is for visitors to take time to slow down and relax. Various wellbeing activities were on offer, such as creative writing and mindfulness, inspired by the Harris’ art collections.

The new partnership between the Harris and Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust also saw the Lancashire Recovery College based at the museum and art gallery every Monday throughout autumn and winter for free wellbeing workshops.

Read more: Slow down and relax as the Harris launches new wellbeing gallery and workshops

Has a mental health story we’ve covered helped you? Let us know in the comments below.

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