2015—2016 was a transformational year for Plymouth & District Mind. Sharon Claridge retired from the CEO position in December 2015. Sharon played an incredibly important role in re-shaping Plymouth & District Mind, including the development of the Recovery College, now in its third year. In January 2016, Olivia Craig assumed the position of ‘new’ CEO, following nearly 2 years with the organisation as Operations Manager.
During 2015-2016, we got involved in a number of large scale projects, of regional, national and EU importance:
- Our selection as one of only 9 Peer Support Hubs across England as part of the national MIND funded Side by Side project was an important milestone for our peer support work. During this year, we supported 31 organisations in Plymouth and surrounding areas to gain access to training and support to develop sustainability within their own peer support networks.
- Our involvement in mental health training for Blue Light personnel, funded by government Libor funds, saw us deliver 35 ‘Managing Mental Health at Work’ courses to 378 personnel over a 6 month period. Attendees came from the fire, ambulance, police, and search and rescue services across Devon and Cornwall.
- Our inclusion as a delivery partner for the Devon and Cornwall wide Victim Care Network, funded by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner has enabled us to seamlessly refer victims of crime, both reported and non-reported, to appropriate agencies in a joined up way, thus reducing the stress on individuals who need these services.
- Our leadership of a large Erasmus funded project, Deliberate Self-Harm: Positive Choices, has enabled us to develop a suite of comprehensive resources to support young people with alexithymia who are using self-harm as a way to cope with their mental health issues. We are leading on this project which is being implemented in 6 countries across Europe.
The reputation for the quality and professionalism of our Recovery College has continued to grow across the city, and we have seen an increase in the number of GP referrals, in addition to self-referrals, contacting us for support. Our mental health training portfolio has also expanded considerably, and in 2015-2016, we received more requests for courses such as Mental Health First Aid and Wellbeing in the workplace than ever before. We have continued to work closely with National MIND to develop a partnership that is positive and supportive on both sides.
Our commitment to the local community
This year, we began to work more in our local communities to deliver additional services alongside those already offered from our Woodside base close to the centre of Plymouth. We recognised an increasing demand for support services that were co-located in GP surgeries, and within other community services and community centres. The main aim was to enable the more vulnerable members of our community to receive support in locations that they already felt comfortable in. This move saw us deliver a regular suite of stress management and mindfulness courses to carers at the Carers Hub in Plymouth, in addition to supporting individuals through the co-location of our services in Working Links.
In 2015-2016, we also made changes to the open access services that were delivered from our Parkside building. We took on board requests from our service users to offer more structured activities such as exercise classes, creative courses such as jewellery making, computer courses, and more peer support groups. We now offer a programme of weekly activities from Parkside that enable people to socialise and develop new skills at the same time.
The staff and volunteers at Plymouth & District Mind work with a tireless determination to ensure that we can support all those who seek out our help. Our capacity to reach more people was boosted by the appointment of a new Volunteer Coordinator at the beginning of 2016. We are now able to offer a transition from our Recovery College services into volunteering as a meaningful pathway for recovery. Peer support remains an important underpinning theme for our work, and we will continue to grow and develop new peer support groups in the areas that most need them. We have made it a priority to continually invest in our staff and volunteers so that they have access to opportunities to enhance their learning and to develop new skills.
Our Goals for 2016/2017
This year’s annual report sets the scene once again for Plymouth & District Mind as we work to grow our services in a sustainable and effective way. Our ambition to become the number one organisation for mental health and well being in the city still stands, and 2015-2016 has brought us closer to achieving that vision. While we cannot lose sight of the uncertainties in future funding, and the need to grow our unrestricted income so that we can invest back into our services, we remain optimistic that the next 12 months will bring more positive outcomes for our organisation and the people we support.