Health, disability & well-being

Funding level: £10,001 to £25,000


Mind in Kingston is a local charity that supports people to maintain and improve their mental wellbeing. We are user-led, and our services are rooted in the local community. We subscribe to the recovery model, which focuses on building resilience and learning skills to maintain and improve mental wellbeing.

We are seeking funding for our Peer Support Project, a service for people who have long-term, enduring mental health problems, who are socially isolated and who lack the confidence or self-esteem to participate in their local community. This will be the first fully peer-led project where people with mental health issues support each other, and work on their recovery together.

Evidence from people we support shows that ordinary things like taking a walk, doing some shopping or going to the gym can cause deep anxiety and stress when someone has a mental health problem. People are worried they will be stigmatised, and this causes them to avoid going out. There are no services to support people in this position; people are expected to go out to services, even when this is having a direct effect on their mental health.
One person told us: “I want to go out, but I get to the door and panic and I can’t do it. I probably won’t see anyone else for the rest of the day, but it’s easier to just stay at home than facing that fear.”

The Peer Support project works with volunteer peers; people who have personal experience of mental health issues and who are in recovery. Peers are aware of the impact of mental health problems on daily life and have empathy and understanding. They use their own experience and knowledge to connect with others and support them.
An individual is matched with a peer volunteer; they will agree a plan that focuses on specific areas the individual would like to address, such as joining a walking group, going to the gym or to an event.
A woman explained “I really want to lose some weight but I’m terrified to go on my own. I’m scared people with judge me and stare at me, like they know I’m bi-polar. When [my peer worker] told me they could go with me, that was such a relief. I can’t wait now.”

The project will support people to build their confidence and increase their resilience. It will help them to access services that can benefit their mental and physical wellbeing, and it will lead to new friendships and connection within their own community. It will also benefit people keen to contribute to their local community by offering a challenging but rewarding volunteer role.
One volunteer said: “I really struggled when I had my mental health problems, and I wish I’d had access to this project. To be with someone who knows what you’ve been through really helps, so if I can help someone else, all the better. “
Volunteers will receive full training, and be supervised by a dedicated member of staff.

The project will also support both peer volunteers and people with mental health issues to start up special interest groups. Ideas we have received include a book club, a walking group, an allotment and a cake-baking group. We will help set up the group and support to become independent and community-based.

Mind in Kingston

Moment of Pride

This project offers something that doesn't exist in our borough: one-to-one contact between people with shared mental health experiences that will support them to feel connected with their local community and not be afraid to address their mental health issues.

Location: Kingston upon Thames