There are umpteen different local and national phone lines available for people who are experiencing distress or looking for someone to talk to, but having been in this situation myself these can often feel lacking. I have recently become aware of several community based projects specifically designed to support the citizens of Derby face-to-face, at different times of the week and day.
The night bus has been set up to give people in distress or who are struggling a place to go between 2200 and 0100 every Friday and Saturday nights. The nightbus is hosted by the Chatterbox Cafe, St. Martin’s Church and has been developed by a local Community Interest Company, Headhigh (the website doesn’t contain a great deal of information and this is one of the sad things about the night bus, it isn’t really being promoted very much).
The night bus will be staffed with volunteers who have recieved training to support those experiencing distress or mental illness, many of whom have had similar experiences, so there is a great element of peer support in place. People visiting will be able to find out about local services tha are on offer, or else just have a chat and a warm drink if they prefer.
The cafe timings have been decided based upon research that identified these times overnight at the weekend as when people can struggle the most, together with the least support being accessible.
The Hannah Fields Community Garden is a fab little project that currently opens 1000 to 1600 (weather permitting) on a Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Managed by another local CIC and run by a trained mental health nurse, Angela, the organisation has taken a previously neglected piece of urban greenspace and is in the process of transforming it into a thriving community garden and workspace. I have visited once, and met Angela on a number of occasions and have been really impressed by what she is aiming to do. None-clinical solutions to poor health and illness and prevention are at the top of the list of current priorities for the NHS. Projects such as this tick all the boxes for how better health will be achieved in the future. Specific strands of the project include training in forest school activities, growing and donating food to the local community and also working with local groups to develop sensory spaces, as well as being a haven for local wildlife.
Thrive Nutrition are part of a wider collective that brings together a range of people with different skills and experiences. The fab Lucy Kay, a nutritional therapist who practices in Derby runs a regular monthly event at Boyer Street which discussed a whole host of topics and naturally touches upon the benefits of good diet and nutrition for mental health and general wellbeing. Although not strictly a place of support for mental health, Thrive is a really great resource for people wanting to learn about how diet and lifestyle can support recovery from and prevention of mental illness and distress. There is also an opportunity to meet some fabulous and really friendly people, so encouraging social interaction and friendship.
Thrive also have an active facebook group with over 200 members, which is a great place to ask questions and find out about local events.
A weekly, non-auditioning choir that was set up to encourage singing and allow a wide range of people to access the mental and physical health benefits of music. Although I have not been to this personally I am very aware of the research that supports the benefits of community choirs such as this. Another important aspect to these choirs is that they created destigmatised spaces for those with mental health distress or illness. So often, initiatives like this are set up with the primary purpose of being places for people with ‘mental illness’ to go, and so create a place that is seperate from the local community and people who are not having similar experiences. In opening up such projects everyone benefits, with the dual advantage that exposure to people with mental distress is increased and discrimination and strerotyping are successfully challenged.
The choir meetings every Wednesday evening between 1930 and 2130. I can find no mention of costs to attend.
Derby City Life Links is run by the fab Richmond Group, a mental health charity that also runs the Crisis House on Old Burton Road; a supportive non-clinical environment which lives its recovery based values.
This latest venture in Derby by the charity was only something that I recently became aware of, but it looks as though this might be the beginning of a number of recovery based projects in the city, such as organised peer-support and recovery college type classes. The website is an wealth of information of other initiatives and projects going on in the city that can offer different kinds of support (check out the ‘self help’ tab at the top of the page to activate a drop down menu with options). There is also a dedicated page for recovery education, wih specific classes looking at managing anxiety, mindfulness and meditation, confidence and relaxation.
The last service of note is the creation and support of a number of peer-support groups. A full list of those currently in existence is available, with group options catering both for interest and condition-specific accommodated. There appears to also be opportunties to seek assistance for those wishing to set up their own group
Part of a national initiative instigated by Action for Happiness, Derby’s branch of the Happy Cafe movement is hosted by Derby QUAD on every third Wednesday of the month, between 1900 and 2100. The space is created for people to come together to discuss and support happiness and general wellbeing, with particpants beng sure of a friendly welcome and drink. The only downside is that the drinks must be paid for and the prices are reflective of the city centre location.