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Lottery funding helps Pembrokeshire mental health network start ‘Greener Healing’ project

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Grŵp Resilience in Pembrokeshire has received a grant of £7,880 from The National Lottery Community Fund in Wales to fund the Greener Healing project.

The project supports people with mental health needs to take part in green social activity and evaluate how this affects them.

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Vicky Moller, Chairman of Grŵp Resilience, which is a network of businesses, communities and organisations committed to working inclusively in the long-term interests of nature and people, explains: “We found that many people with urgent social and mental wellbeing needs are happiest when they feel useful and doing practical things with others. This project will enrol those in need of greater wellbeing as volunteer researchers to help practically in community gardens and similar social ventures. They will research the effectiveness of the activity over time.

“We are working with people who have experienced damaging life experiences. They include people who have escaped war, mothers who have lost children, victims of long-standing abuse and young people damaged by life and substance abuse. They do not want to live as victims. They want to be valued, to be healers and to heal themselves.

“We are building greener healing from the grass roots. The National Lottery money will also provide practical help to social ventures and community gardens and support a coordinator to take care of the volunteers.”

The funding enabled one of the volunteers, Leoni Jenkins, to take a horse called Monk to the reopening of Monkton Community Centre in Pembrokeshire. The centre recently reopened under new management, Dezza’s Cabin, a self-help social needs charity providing peer to peer support. In Vicky Moller’s words, “Dezza’s is turning tragedy into empowerment, with a sprinkle of help from Grŵp Resilience. “

Leoni Jenkins, who is a volunteer at Dezza’s and Grŵp Resilience, said:  “I have had troubles nobody should, I have experienced emotional pain that is worse than physical torture through the loss of my children. However, I refuse to be defined by this pain. Working with Monk has honestly kept me alive at times. It has taught me simplicity, patience and compassion. 

“The horse-human relationship is unique; horses mirror human emotions. This sensitivity offers feedback to a person because of the horse’s powerful stature. They allow people to overcome fear.”   

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Leoni told us about one experience her and Monk had that will stay with her forever: “A Dad approached us with his very shy, non-verbal daughter. She was interested in Monk but froze by fear of the other humans around. Her dad leaned down, picked her up and put her on Monk. Wow! An instant smile. We did a 20-metre circle and on our route back, out of the blue the little girl responded to a question I had asked ten minutes earlier. She said HER NAME! Her Dad could not believe she had spoken and I know it’s down to the magic in Monk, and in any horse.   

“There are parents who have also expressed a concern to me that local drug dealers are using their children to run drugs. These children are aged between 12 and 16. At least two of them came and met Monk at Monkton Fete. For those few moments, I watched them come alive and just be children.  

“Wouldn’t it be a wonderful world if other people who struggle with anything could find comfort in the same way I have. It would give children the chance to learn life skills that have kept me alive and sober! Unfortunately, this all comes at a cost and so for the most vulnerable and poorest of our communities, these skills are completely out of reach.

“My wish would be that we can help people learn the life skills that have very often kept me alive at my most troubling times.”

Ruth Bates, Head of Communications at The National Lottery Community Fund in Wales, said: “This project is an excellent example of how community groups and volunteers support the people who rely on them. National Lottery players raise £36 million each week for good causes throughout the UK.

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“Last year we funded over 8,000 projects across the UK to bring communities together, over 7,500 supporting health and wellbeing. I hope this grant will enable Grŵp Resilience and the other projects receiving funding this month to continue offering support to the people and communities who really need it, and continue to change lives.”   

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Ospreys star helps kick off mental health awareness week activities

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As Action for Children marks Mental Health Awareness Week (9-15 May), the charity recently celebrated its Bouncing Back Plus mental health partnership with Ospreys in the Community with a huge event at the Academy of Sport in Llandarcy.

Hundreds of primary school children joined the celebrations and were treated to rugby sessions, craft workshops, music therapy and mental health classes with Ospreys star, Lloyd Ashley.

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The charity teamed up with the rugby region’s community arm over the autumn and spring terms to deliver a combination of classroom-based Cognitive and Dialectical behavioural therapy (CBT and DBT) techniques and physical exercises such as touch rugby on the playground.

Bouncing Back Plus has become increasingly important as recent Action for Children research showed nearly a third of children across UK (32%) said that school does not provide enough emotional support for them with 28% of parents agreeing.

The children the charity polled in Wales were the least satisfied with support received in schools with 28% saying they received a great or good amount of practical support and only a quarter (25%) reporting getting the same level of emotional support.

Primary school kids from the Ospreys region enjoying craft sessions

Caryl Dyer manages the Bouncing Back Plus programme for Action for Children in the region and said: “The celebration was wonderful. We wanted to run an event to celebrate the success of the programme as we’ve worked with 15 primary schools and almost 800 children in 6 months. The programme is critical for the mental health and wellbeing of our primary school children especially in light of the Covid-blighted period they have been through.

“We wanted to invite everyone along and enjoy a bit of normality and the elements of mental wellbeing and physical exercise in lots of different workshops. It’s been a roaring success working with Ospreys in the Community, the partnership has gone from strength to strength and it’s a pleasure to be a part of it,” she added.

Holly, 11, from Coed Hirwaun Primary School enjoyed the celebration and said: “It’s been really good and a lot of fun. We did lots of activities and I really liked doing ‘capture the flag’ and making stress balls.”

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Tyler, also 11, from Pontlliw Primary School, added: “The day was fun, I enjoyed the rugby and the stress ball class. I enjoyed all of it, really.”

The children enjoyed a host of physical exercise activities as well as wellbeing sessions

At the end of each Bouncing Back Plus programme, each participant receives a Mental Health First Aid Kit, providing them with resources that support them to manage their mood and sustain improvements in their emotional wellbeing. The process also supports us to identify those young people who may need a higher-tier intervention.

Tom Sloane, Foundation Manager at Ospreys in the Community, said: ‘It’s really good to see that this programme is around supporting kids, building confidence, resilience and supporting mental health and wellbeing through physical and emotional sessions.

“The celebration ties off the last two years really nicely and it’s great to do that in partnership with Action for Children.

“It’s a really positive relationship we’ve got as official charity partners and we’re looking forward to the next year working together as this programme grows and hopefully, we can help even more children.’

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Kidney charity unveils new name and revamped branding

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After nine years of providing unrivalled support and care to the kidney community of Wales, the Paul Popham Fund, Renal Support Wales, is changing its name and revamping its branding.

The charity is now called: Popham Kidney Support.

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The re-brand signifies an important transition for the charity that includes a new name, logo and website. The charity opted to rebrand following a trustees meeting where the name was discussed. It was thought that the former name did not clearly explain what the charity offers. The new name, Popham Kidney Support, does exactly that, while also maintaining and recognising the historical origins of the organisation.

Popham Kidney Support was set up in 2012 and is managed by the friends and family of the late Paul Popham. The trustees felt that Popham must remain in the name, and this is also reflected in the logo, where Paul Popham’s handwriting is seen in its design. The brand colours have also stayed the same. The colour green implies new growth, vibrant health and also has connotations of rebirth and renewal, an apt description of what the rebrand represents.

The inclusion of a butterfly in the new logo design was chosen as a symbol of transformation, mirroring the sole objective for the charity which is to transform the lives of kidney patients. The butterfly wings are also made up of two kidney shapes, once again keeping a consistent theme that is relevant to what the organisation offers.

Popham Kidney Support’s rebrand journey began in September last year, and the trustees have been through various stages of feedback. This has included offering the service users and followers of the charity the opportunity to give their opinion on the new name and the logo design. Keeping an open dialogue between the charity and its service users, volunteers and stakeholders was an important aspect of the process for the trustees.

Additionally, the charity recently announced two new ambassadors: TV chef Matt Tebbutt and Welsh TV presenter Sian Lloyd, both of whom will aid the charity in reaching its fundraising goal. The goal for Popham Kidney Support is to raise £132,000 for the Children’s Kidney Centre, Cardiff and it has recently surpassed £30,000.

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Sian Lloyd, Popham Kidney Support ambassador, said: “The new name is an exciting new chapter for the charity, offering a new clear direction into its 10th year.”

Matt Tebbutt, Popham Kidney Support ambassador, said: “I wish Popham Kidney Support the best of luck with its rebrand. The new name and logo are now an appropriate symbol of what they do. I am pleased to help such a fantastic charity that provides vital support to those with kidney disease in Wales.”

The new name and logo were unveiled at the charity’s Supporters Celebration on April 29 at the Mercure Hotel, Swansea. In attendance were the trustees and employees of Popham Kidney Support, its service users, volunteers and stakeholders, all of whom have helped the charity support everyone affected by kidney disease in Wales, and a guest appearance from former Swansea City footballer, Lee Trundle.

Joanne Popham, CEO of Popham Kidney Support, said: “We are extremely pleased with the result of the rebrand. It was important to the trustees and myself to recognise the history of the charity, and we have done that by keeping Popham in the name and my dad, Paul Popham’s handwriting within the logo, keeping his legacy alive.

We believe the new name and logo clearly signifies what we do, it says, no one is alone in their journey, the charity is here to support them. Though we have seen a rebirth of the charity, our aims remain the same: to ensure our community of people with kidney disease can experience life to the fullest!”

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Welsh family charity encourages mums to ask for help if they are struggling as part Maternal Mental Health Week campaign

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A Welsh family support charity is encouraging mums to talk about their wellbeing and reach out for support if they need it as part of a campaign for Maternal Mental Health Week (May 2-8).

Home-Start Cymru is raising awareness among local mums to let them know that in addition to clinical services, vital peer support is available in their area through the charity’s network of confidential, trained volunteers.

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Bethan Webber, Chief Executive of Home-Start Cymru, said: “For Maternal Mental Health Week, we are encouraging families to talk about their wellbeing and not be afraid to ask for help. There is still a real stigma around talking openly about parental mental health.

“We would love to encourage mums who are feeling overwhelmed to take the brave decision to reach out for support.  Parenting is hard. It can be wonderful, but it can also be lonely and relentless. That is why Home-Start Cymru is ready to stand alongside families when they need us most with compassionate, non-judgmental support.”

Home-Start Cymru supports mums’ mental health with trained volunteers through a range of activities, including wellbeing walks in the community, 1-2-1 support in the home, weekly group support groups and virtual catch-ups.

Leanne Joy, a Home-Start Cymru volunteer who has experienced perinatal mental health herself, said: “After rounds of IVF, I fell pregnant with my first, and after giving birth, I had everything I wanted, but I didn’t feel how I should be feeling. I felt the loneliest and most vulnerable I had ever felt. I was lucky to be referred by my GP and supported by the perinatal mental health team.”

The mother of two from Cardiff continues, “After my diagnosis and treatment, I wanted to give back and found Home-Start Cymru by chance. This was my opportunity to help parents who are experiencing the same as me. I really wanted to help others feel less alone and make a difference for those who feel there is no way out. Because there’s a way out. You just have to reach out.”

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Meirwen Jones, Head of Operations for Home-Start Cymru, said: “Home-Start plays a vital role in providing non-judgemental peer support in people’s homes alongside group support. This year’s theme of Maternal Mental Health Week is fitting as it is ‘The Power of Connections’.

“We know only too well how not being able to see family and friends has been difficult throughout the pandemic. Home-Start harnesses the power of human connection to support families facing mental health challenges in the perinatal period.

“The excellent support our staff and trained volunteers provide has an amazing impact on families – because we truly are stronger together.”

Meirwen continues: “We understand the value of face to face connections, especially for first time mums. Reaching out for support either to family and friends, a professional such as your midwife or health visitor, or getting in touch with a local community organisation such as Home-Start Cymru could be the first step to make a positive difference. 

“The impact on families can be amazing – because we truly are stronger together. In the meantime, we want to remind mums to remember they are brilliant, remind them to take breaks, remember self-care, know that parenting is tough and most of all remember that parenting is not always the picture-perfect lifestyle often portrayed on social media.”

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Another mum who was supported by Home-Start said: “Please don’t shy away from asking for help. We all have limits and it’s important to recognise them. Looking back I probably had post-natal depression but didn’t realise it at the time.

“To me, Home-Start support was like taking the weight off your shoulders for a while, so you can be the parent you want to be. Without Home-Start I think I would have fallen into a deep depression, but I didn’t and that’s thanks to my volunteer.”

Home-Start Cymru works across 18 local authorities in Wales providing compassionate support to local families who are facing a wide range of challenges including mental health, bereavement, isolation, multiple births, domestic abuse, financial hardship or supporting a parent or child who has a disability or health issue.

Once a family is matched, their trained volunteer visits once a week for two hours to support in a wide variety of ways that meet the individual needs of that family.

Maternal Mental Health Week, which is into its eighth year, is a campaign dedicated to talking about mental health problems during and after pregnancy.

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The week focuses on raising public and professional awareness of perinatal mental health problems, advocating for women affected, changing attitudes and helping families access the information, care and support they need to recover.

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