Mental health workshops for hundreds of schoolchildren in deprived areas of Birmingham and Solihull are among over 30 new innovative projects being launched thanks to £22.2million of NHS funding.
Birmingham and Solihull Integrated Care System has awarded small grants totalling over £300,000 to new projects being delivered by 33 voluntary, community, faith and social enterprise sector organisations. It is the first round of funding being awarded as part of the £25.5million ‘Fairer Futures Fund’, which has been launched to reduce health inequalities and improve health and care services for patients and citizens across Birmingham and Solihull.
The projects receiving the small grants include:
- The Birmingham Hospice – co-designing and delivering bereavement awareness training for workers and volunteers who support people experiencing homelessness.
- Change Birmingham Brief Therapy – delivering 60 mental health resilience building workshops to 300 young people in schools in deprived areas of the city.
- Arts Enterprise with a Social Purpose – ‘Dance to Health’, a pioneering falls prevention dance programme.
- Inclusive Sports Academy – a programme designed to support school children in Solihull into physical activity, promoting enrichment activities and getting them ready for learning.
In Birmingham, the funding has been allocated by a committee working in collaboration between the NHS, Birmingham Voluntary Service Council and Birmingham City Council. While in Solihull, it is being distributed by the Heart of England Community Foundation, acting on behalf of Solihull’s place committee which brings together the NHS, Solihull Metropolitan Council and the VCSE.
Suzanne McArthur, Head of Community Development and Partnerships for Birmingham Hospice said: “Too often people avoid speaking with those who are dealing with a bereavement, out of the fear of saying something wrong. This project made possible through the Fairer Futures Fund will enable workers and volunteers to approach and immediately support those from the homeless community who are dealing with loss and grief, removing some of the existing barriers that currently exist for these individuals accessing bereavement support.”
Chair of the Trustees of Change Birmingham Brief Therapy, Fiona Taylor, said: “We are aware that the mental health crisis in younger people has been exacerbated by the disrupted education and social isolation brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic. The Fairer Futures Fund grant will enable us to use our well-established and proven service delivery model, to deliver a programme of 60 Mental Health Resilience Building Workshops to 300 young people in schools in the most deprived areas of the city, helping students to find effective solutions to better manage current and future adversity, supporting their future mental health development and wellbeing.”
Dr Dalia Halpern-Matthews, Head of Business Development and Marketing for Arts Enterprise with a Social Purpose said: “Our pioneering Dance to Health falls-prevention dance programme combines the power of falls-prevention exercise and creative dance and drastically reduces falls in older people, while allowing them to express themselves and socialise with others. With falls being one of the leading causes of injury and immobility, this can be life changing.”
Managing Director of Inclusive Sports Academy, Andy Warmington, said: “The funding received will be enormously beneficial and positively enhance the lives of children and young people with send who will be able to access weekly after school provision. This will take place in their school environment to enable them to feel relaxed and ready to learn. The project staff will facilitate a vibrant and varied programme of activity that will encourage physical activity and promote enrichment activities. We are excited about this and look forward to the many children that will benefit from this delivery.”
David Melbourne, Chief Executive of NHS Birmingham and Solihull, said: “We are delighted to be able to invest in such a broad range of projects, all designed to improve the way our patients and citizens receive care in their local communities. This has really showcased the high level of innovation and forward thinking in Birmingham and Solihull, as well as the commitment and passion of our staff and professionals. We look forward to seeing how these projects unfold.”
Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care in Birmingham, Councillor Mariam Khan, said: “This is a great development for the people of Birmingham, as this funding goes straight into community-based initiatives. The ambition is for these projects to make a real difference to the lives of our local populations, improving health and care and enabling our people to live their best possible life. I look forward to seeing how they progress, as well as for further funding to be distributed across our city.”
Stephen Raybould, Programmes Director for Birmingham Voluntary Service Council, said: “We were delighted with the volume of interest and quality of applications for the small grants, and it was incredibly heartening to see the passion from and for our communities. The 31 successful bids are prime examples of how focused prevention work delivered by VCFSE agencies could work better for citizens, and we’re excited to see how they develop over the coming months.”
Deputy Leader and Lead Member for Wellbeing, Skills & Inclusion at Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council, Councillor Karen Grinsell, said: “It’s great to see projects starting to be funded through this really important initiative. The ambition is for these projects to make a real difference to the lives of people in Solihull, improving health and care and enabling our residents to live their best possible life. I look forward to seeing the funding being allocated further and the impact and work of projects as they progress.”
Applications are open for bids from Solihull-based voluntary, community, faith and social enterprise (VCFSE) sector organisations for small grants of up to £10,000 to be allocated by Solihull Place Committee via Heart of England Community Foundation. Organisations can apply or find out more via https://www.heartofenglandcf.co.uk/solihull-fairer-futures-fund/.
Meanwhile, applications will open in early October for funding for voluntary, community, faith and social enterprise sector organisations for projects that will support at least one of Solihull's three local priorities: integrating services in the community; improving approaches to prevention; and better support around mental health – from prevention through to crisis. The deadline for applications is 20 November, and successful applicants will be notified on 18 December.