Social Seeding project awards grants to improve health of marginalised groups

Social Seeding project awards grants to improve health of marginalised groups

19th January 2016

NHS West Leicestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has awarded over £220,000 in grants to voluntary groups who work with the most vulnerable groups in society, supporting them to access health care and support.

This is the first round of funding from the CCG’s innovative “Social Seeding” project, a £360,000 scheme run in partnership with Voluntary Action LeicesterShire, which aims to target those groups who can be marginalised from mainstream society and may struggle to access health care. The grants have been awarded to projects starting in 2016.

Groups targeted by the scheme are those who find it hard to engage directly with health professionals due to social isolation, discrimination for characteristics such as their sexual orientation, ethnicity or disability, those who travel as a lifestyle or are people who have come to the United Kingdom seeking asylum. It can also include those who are homeless or work in the sex industry, suffer with drug or alcohol abuse, are not in employment or training or have enduring mental conditions, as they can often find themselves unable or unwilling to access much needed services.

To access this funding, voluntary and community not for profit groups were invited to bid for funding for projects which will specifically reach these groups. From the 35 applications received, 17 projects were selected to receive grants ranging between £4000 and £20,000 each. These grants represent the first round of funding, and the CCG is now asking groups in the area to apply for a second round.

Included in the first round of grants are projects such as Little Bird SOS, which was awarded funds to provide crafting activities for adults who are suffering from mental health problems. Lisa Pidgeon, Arts for Health Practitioner and Director of Little Bird SOS explains:

“Participants of our groups may have suffered from stress, anxiety and depression or experience severe and enduring mental health difficulties. Some have mild learning disabilities or early stage dementia. All are catered for, and individual assistance is given where possible from our volunteers. By giving people the chance to create and achieve, and to socialise and learn new skills in small, nurturing groups, we are able to help them cope with their difficulties. Those who attend our workshops tell us their health and wellbeing is improved, meaning, for some, that they have been able to reduce their medication and find they need to seek medical help less often. With the funding we are receiving through Social Seeding we will be able to expand our programme, adding more sessions for more people in West Leicestershire and helping more vulnerable adults to gradually improve their health and wellbeing.”

Another organisation benefiting from the grants is Women’s Aid Leicestershire, who will be receiving funds to run a project which will train GPs and other health professionals on the possibility of domestic violence amongst their patients, how to recognise the signs and what to do about it. Pamela Richardson, Chief Executive of Woman’s Aid Leicestershire said:
“Domestic abuse is a major public health problem and across the UK, approximately 15.4 million incidents occur annually.

We know that many victims approach their GP in the first instance and by providing training and support directly in practices we can work closely with our health colleagues to improve support for victims of domestic abuse. Victims of domestic violence often become socially isolated and suffer from depression, as well as facing injury and abuse. We are very excited to have been awarded this funding as we believe by helping GPs and practice staff to not only recognise the signs of domestic abuse, but also what they can do to help victims, we will be able to improve the lives and the health of women across West Leicestershire.

Other examples of organisations receiving grants include
• Young Leicestershire – a 1 year project which will provide fortnightly provision for young carers aged 12-18 years
• Quetzal Project – an 18 month project to provide online, telephone and one to one therapy to female sufferers of childhood abuse.
• Dear Albert – a 1 year project to provide Mutual Aid Facilitation (MAFs) programme for people suffering from drink and drug addiction.
• New Futures – a two year project to provide a weekly drop-in service in Loughborough to improve the sexual, physical and emotional health of women involved in prostitution in the County.

Dr. Peter Cannon, clinical lead at West Leicestershire CCG and a working GP in Loughborough said

“The social seeding project is an innovative new way to reach those members of our community who may struggle to access health care through the normal routes or need additional support. We are lucky in West Leicestershire to have a thriving voluntary and community sector, and through their expertise and the strong links they have with these often marginalised communities, we are able to help these vulnerable people to improve their physical and mental health, assisting with their immediate health needs and preventing illness in the longer term.”

The second round of funding is launching on 5 January and voluntary and community groups in the West Leicestershire area who work with marginalised or hard to reach groups are urged to get in touch. The funding is available for any not for profit organisations, partnerships or consortiums that can provide services in West Leicestershire. Faith groups are eligible to apply to provide community based work whilst not promoting any particular religion.

Groups interested in finding out more should check the Voluntary Action LeicesterShire website