We spoke to Bethan Davies, local Mental Health Support Worker about the charity and how she became involved.
Q What is the history of SWR Mind?
It is a registered charity, established in 1962, that serves Scarborough, Whitby, Ryedale and the Esk Valley. Our mission is to work in partnership to ensure that people with mental ill health have access to personalised support that empowers and enriches their lives. We work to raise awareness, combat stigma, and educate our community about mental health and well-being.
Q What services and support does SWR Mind provide for the local area?
We are currently running a joint project with the NHS providing mental health practitioners and link workers within GP surgeries across Ryedale. People can simply ring the surgery and ask to see a wellbeing practitioner.
“We also offer workshops that focus on specific topics such as managing anger, dealing with anxiety or improving sleep. We have new workshops starting in the near year with longer programmes around some of the big gaps we are finding such as help with bereavement and grief.”.
We also have a new pilot activity service with an ‘activity connector’ who will be providing training to sports and exercise providers in mental health, but also run a wide range of accessible taster sessions to people interested in trying to be more active.
Our services are provided free of charge at the point of need and delivered in the heart of the community and peoples homes where, and when, we are most needed.
Q What is your background and how did you become involved with the charity?
I am a Mental Health Support Worker and have been working for the charity since April 2022. My role involves organising and implementing workshops within our local area. I run a series of workshops, tailored to the needs of the attendees, about mental ill health. The workshops are for anyone who wants to understand more around mental health; perhaps you have a family member or a friend who is struggling, and you want to understand the illness and how you can provide them with support, or maybe you are struggling yourself and want to learn more.
I grew up in Ryedale and throughout my life, I have been unwell with depression. When I was young I didn’t know how to explain it and it took me a long time to recognise and understand the signs and symptoms. After lots of false starts, and travel around the world working for a charity, I was still not functioning properly and so unwell. Following a few years as a secondary school teacher in the UK I eventually stopped functioning completely and was unable to work for 4 years. With amazing support from SWR Mind, a local therapist and the NHS, I started looking for a part time work at the beginning of 2022 and was offered this job. I have learned to accept and live with my mental ill health, and I can now bring my extensive experience to my role within the community. I am a positive person now and I love working one-to-one with people to help them get the right support.
Q Who does the charity help?
Every year we support hundreds of vulnerable people in the community aged 11 and above who are struggling with a wide range of mental health problems, ranging from depression and anxiety to bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
We have recently begun to develop new services for young people aged 11-16. We help anyone who is experiencing mental illness, or at risk of struggling. Many of our staff have close personal experience of mental health issues which enables us to provide genuinely empathetic peer support.
Q Have any recent initiatives proved successful in really making a difference in the community?
Our peer support service over the past 7 years has helped over a thousand people with almost 90% saying that the support has improved their mental health. Feedback from the new workshops has been hugely positive and people are really valuing the opportunity to learn from each other and to embrace new ideas on how to manage their own wellbeing.
Q Does the charity receive grants or funding? If not, how do you raise money to run the charity and how can the general public get involved?
The vast majority of our funding comes from charitable foundations who are looking to fund specific types of work or particular client groups, for example, older people. Most funding is for 1 year and under £20,000 which does present challenges when trying to employ staff and make longer term plans. We rely on top-up funding which comes from the community through donations or fundraising events. People in the community make such a massive difference and our volunteers have such a huge impact.
Supporting the Mind Shops support the network as a whole. However, if you wish to support local services in your area please consider supporting Scarborough, Whitby and Ryedale Mind.
Q Can you describe a day in the life of a volunteer and how can people get involved?
We always need volunteers, particularly at the moment, to help out with fundraising events and to help provide telephone support. Unfortunately, we don’t currently have funding in Ryedale for a volunteer co-ordinator that would allow us to do one-to-one outreach, but we are working hard to try to secure funding for this.
The volunteer role is varied; helping out with admin at our office, attending one of our workshops and supporting people to take part and talk, helping out at fundraisers or getting a team together to plan a community event.
Our one-to-one volunteers go through quite an extensive training schedule, but once qualified, their role is to visit people weekly or every other week to help them work through an agreed support plan that is all about working to the goals that the individual has set for themselves. This could involve the volunteer going along to groups, to the theatre, out walking, cooking together or advocating at a health appointment.
For anyone interested in becoming a Trustee, we are always on the lookout for someone with useful skills and perspectives, perhaps someone who has experience running a business, involved with marketing or PR, or able to write funding proposals. Trustees meet once a month for a couple of hours and they guide the organisation, make decisions and set the direction of the charity.
Q How do people get in touch if they need support?
People can contact our office on 01723 339838, or email email@example.com. Our office is based at 1st Floor, 24 Huntriss Row, Scarborough, YO11 2EG.Please visit our website www.swrmind.org.uk or our facebook page (facebook.com.swrmind1). To book onto one of our workshops, please contact the SWR Mind office.
Q Owl or Lark? Owl
Q What did you want to be when you grew up? Anything that involved travel.
Q What makes you happy? Travelling and the colour green – its such a relaxing, beautiful colour
Q Who would you have at a dinner party and why? Freda Kahlo because of her passion for vibrant colours. And Friedrich Nietzsche even though I disagree with him in many things, I find him fascinating, his reasoning and solutions can be applicable to mental health issues. .
Q Proudest moment? Getting this job
Q Who is your inspiration and why? I am inspired by striving to bring out the best in people. My Father was the community constable in Norton, working hard for community. When he and my mum retired, they moved to Cambodia to work at Hope International School.
Q I couldn’t get through the weekend without….? A cup of Yorkshire tea?