23/07/21: Theatre Company and Men's Shed unite to become Mental Health Community Champions

Members from two Breckland community organisations have become the first to take part in a new training programme aimed at enhancing local mental health support.

The newly-trained Community Mental Health Champions from Dereham Men's Shed and Dereham Theatre Company will support and signpost local people requiring mental health support and advice. 

The training is part of the new Breckland Mental Health Community Partnership, which is supporting by Breckland Council's Inspiring Communities programme. Inspiring Communities is a £1million commitment to tackling vulnerability and driving early intervention on issues surrounding metal health, domestic abuse, isolation, and county lines drug and people trafficking.

The partnership has also seen Dereham Theatre Company and Dereham Men's Shed agree to share skills and resources, with the Men's Shed now being offered a permanent workshop base in the theatre's rehearsal facilities, in return for 'The Shedders' assisting with set building for future theatre shows.

The pilot Mental Health Champions training event was arranged by Breckland Council and delivered by the Norfolk and Waveney Wellbeing service. So far, 16 representatives from across the two organisations have taken part in the training session, though the Breckland Mental Health Community Partnership training is looking to recruit 250 Mental Health Community Champions from community organisations and small businesses over the coming two years.

It is designed to increase awareness of mental health issues, instil confidence in champions about how best to facilitate a sensitive mental health conversation, and educate them on how to signpost people to appropriate local services and support.

Cllr Alison Webb, Executive Member for Housing, Health & Communities at  Breckland Council, added: "The coming together of these organisations is exactly the kind of outcome we want to see evolve from our Inspiring Communities program. It is not only about providing education and raising awareness around mental health, but it is also bringing community groups together to share resources and capacity to help residents."

Gary Davison, Dereham Theatre Company Vice Chair commented: "The council's Mental Health Community Champions training has been a fantastic way to demonstrate our commitment towards supporting members with mental health needs. On top of that, we are really happy to have been able to provide the 'Shedders' with a space to meet, in return for access to their set-building skills! It is a great example of local people coming together for a common good."

Kevin Green, Secretary of Dereham Men's Shed, said: "This is a wonderful outcome, not only do we now have a home, we also now have a collective purpose for our members to get involved with.  I enjoyed participating in the Mental Health Community Champions training, which has taught me new skills that I can use within Dereham Men's Shed and the wider community."

Kelvin Colbourn - Wellbeing Service Community Development Team Leader, said: "We are absolutely thrilled to be back out and engraining ourselves within the community where we belong. Although we have been delivering the training online, there is nothing like face-to-face meetings to enhance the impact that the Wellbeing Champion Training can have, a massive relief."

Last updated: 19/08/2021 13:16:07