People experiencing mental health difficulties in Bucks will have greater access to social activities and support groups, thanks to a grant from the Paradigm Foundation

Posted on the 26th October 2017

The Paradigm Foundation, a charity set up by Paradigm Housing Group to support individuals and community projects in the areas where it operates, has given a grant to Buckinghamshire Mind for its Mind the Gap peer support service.

Mind the Gap’s aim is to provide peer support groups and social activities for people over the age of 18 who are lonely and isolated because of their mental health difficulties. The groups provide a safe environment where people can support each other, share experiences, learn new coping techniques and develop a sense of community.

Members of Mind the Gap say that the support they receive improves their mental health, their emotional wellbeing, their self-confidence and their sense of belonging.

Pauline Hayden, Bucks Mind’s Befriending and Peer Support Worker, is delighted the service has received the funding.

“The generous grant from the Paradigm Foundation will enable us to continue supporting our social groups in both Wycombe and Chesham with the potential to offer a range of activities such as cultural visits to London, arts and crafts and swimming. These activities will give members closer links with the local community and broaden their life experience.”

A volunteer for the service also speaks highly of its benefits for all involved. “As a volunteer, I have had a very positive experience at Mind the Gap both in terms of gaining experience of mental health difficulties as well as the gratification I’ve had making a positive impact in people’s lives.

“Some people in the group are socially isolated and this seemingly simple activity may make their week. Mind the Gap is a brilliant way to support independence and have people engage in the local community in a positive manner on a regular basis.”

A number of Paradigm residents have already benefitted from the service. “Mind the Gap has helped immensely to increase my confidence in social environments, which in turn helped me into employment,” commented one resident.

A Chesham based Mind the Gap member remarked; “Our peer support group gives me a voice; I can give advice to others on how to deal with issues I have dealt with, which I hope helps other people going through similar problems. I feel I am saying something useful.”

The donation from Paradigm Foundation will help the service to expand and support more people, particularly by offering ‘out of hours’ groups in the evenings and at weekends when other services are not available

It will enable Bucks Mind to establish a monthly walking group, additional out of hour’s social group and another bowling session in High Wycombe. It will also help establish a weekly table tennis group in Chesham.

The grant will also be used to fund an extra three hours per week of staff time and to recruit and train additional volunteers to help run the service.

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