On Tuesday 2 September 2014, Together For You hosted its first annual shared learning event on mental health and wellbeing. Together For You is a partnership project, funded by the Big Lottery Fund, aimed at delivering mental health and wellbeing services to a range of people across Northern Ireland.
Led by Action Mental Health (AMH), services are delivered in partnership with Aware Defeat Depression, CAUSE, CRUSE, MindWise, Nexus, PraxisCare, Relate NI and The Rainbow Project.
The Minister of the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety in the Northern Ireland, Edwin Poots MLA opened the event and welcomed over 90 delegates from across voluntary, community and statutory agencies:
“I am very impressed at how truly inclusive this project is, reaching out to help young and old, men and women, as well as minority and marginalised groups. There is a real sense of staff and volunteers being fully committed to working together to improve services and support for these people.
I have long recognised the value of our local voluntary sector. Often the staff and volunteers have a personal insight into the needs of those they are helping. With this unique perspective they can often devise new and more personalised services from those traditionally provided by the statutory sector. Indeed, it has been as a result of the voluntary and statutory sectors working together that we have been able to achieve the progress to date towards the modern and diverse mental health services envisaged by Bamford.
Together For You compliments the services delivered by the five Trusts, greatly improving the lives of those living with mental health problems. It is vital that those delivering mental health and wellbeing services share their expertise and experiences. This collaborative approach benefits not only the partner organisations within this project but also the health trusts, other statutory agencies and private sector organisations. The result is that the people who use our services get better support that is more responsive to their particular needs.”
David Babington, Chief Executive for Action Mental Health who compared on the day said “It’s hard to believe that it has been less than a year since the launch of Together For You. The successful collaboration between the nine partner organisations has resulted in significant progress for the project, and more importantly has impacted a large number of people who have been able to benefit from services delivered. With potential cuts of £140million in the health budget, it is even more important that complimentary services delivered through projects like Together For You are successful and person centred, to help improve the mental health and wellbeing of people living in Northern Ireland”
Julie Harrison, Northern Ireland Committee member for the Big Lottery Fund, said: “The Big Lottery Fund is delighted to be supporting the Together for You partnership, which is promoting mental health and well being across Northern Ireland. It is encouraging to see that this contract is providing important services in collaboration, and that these are focused on the needs of users.”
Diana Day-Cody, Chair of Royal College of Psychiatrists NI, told attendees at the event ‘I am so impressed of the amount of work achieved in such a short period of time, and the reach of the project across Northern Ireland, to rural and urban areas. I really congratulate all the partners for their hard work and committment to this project. I think we can all learn from the collaborative nature of this work.”
Amanda Jones, Project Manager for Together For You agreed “We’re delighted with the progress of the first year of the project. Since its launch in October 2013, Together For You has delivered services like befriending, bereavement support, specially tailored counselling, support for carers, mental health awareness programmes, peer group support for LBG&T and volunteering to over 8,600 people. The event today will allow us to share our learning and experiences so far with each other and with other voluntary, community and statutory organisations, helping to further discussion on mental health interventions and service delivery”