Group Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Support Together Southend is a voluntary mental health peer support group that I started with others in my local area in Southend as a place where people with mental illness or those supporting one could meet and share experiences and learn from each other. After I approached Rethink Mental Illness for support, a team of volunteers got together to organise meetings which began in November 2017 for 2 hours on the 2nd Wednesday of every month from 7pm to 9pm in Southend on Sea. The group has grown to having a core base of members who attend often with new members trialling the group regularly.
The groups co-ordinators work voluntarily to organise and make decisions for the group with the group’s involvement in partnership with Rethink Mental Illness. The group’s Co-ordinators are presently me, Isla Barton, Sherry Fuller and recently Ed. We do all kinds of activities such as support, arts & craft, creative writing, guest speakers etc…
The biggest challenge the group faces is meeting the ongoing costs in keeping it running. We get some donations from group members each month but this isn’t enough to pay for all the costs such as venue hire and refreshments. We have to conduct our own fundraising. We were fortunate to get a small grant of £320 from the Essex Community Foundation in October 2018 to help fund our monthly meetings as a result of an application I wrote.
In addition of our monthly meetings we have been organising additional events where it is deemed to be helpful.
We had an extra meeting on December 28th 2018 which was our Post Christmas Social & Raffle with party food for the group. I was able to source a number of Raffle prizes from businesses and some books from famous Mental Health Authors. We raised £95 which more than paid for the event including food. Rethink Mental Illness also wrote an article about this event and published it on social media: https://www.rethink.org/news-views/2018/12/shauns-story
We also had an extra event on Time to Talk Day on the 7th February 2019 6pm to 9pm as part of Time to Change’s national movement to get people talking about Mental Health. Isla and Sherry developed the ‘Speed Friending’ format with quizzes in small groups (thats changed throughout the session) so everyone got to know each other better.
Since March 30th 2019 we began scheduling physical activities for the group fortnightly. Activties sccheduled so far have included Rounders, Ping Pong with board games, Cycling, Circuit Training and Walking.
On April 7th I ran the Manchester Marathon (my first) fundraising in the region of £500 for the group.
I have designed all posters for our group and play a significant part in maintaining the group’s Facebook Page:
I also send a mass SMS to all group members (that I have a number for) on the Monday before the group meets to remind them.