Staff at a day service for people in Calderdale with mental health problems have taken steps to encourage people who use the service to engage more in their local community. The Calderdale inclusion support service is jointly run by Calderdale Council and South West Yorkshire Mental Health Trust, which provides specialist mental health and learning disability services to people in Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield.
Previously the service operated on a traditional ‘drop in’ basis in a day centre setting, but in response to a national push to make mental health services more socially inclusive, it now runs in a more open, café environment. People using the service are free to browse the internet, socialise and talk to staff if they need to.
In addition, a number of the service’s old ‘in house’ activities have moved into community settings and the service has two five-a-side football teams, which has prompted some service users to join independent community football teams.
The service has also launched a vocational service to support people trying to return to employment, whether paid or voluntary, by learning new skills. This has led to the service developing more links with local businesses and identifying more voluntary work placements for service users.
Day service coordinator Penny Moore said, ‘Calderdale’s day service has taken a new direction to encourage people with mental health problems to engage in community life and live more independently. Keeping busy is great for people’s mental health, but keeping busy whilst feeling a part of the local community is even better and helps people on the road to recovery.’
The work of the Calderdale Inclusion Support Service builds upon recommendations made by the National Social Inclusion Programme. In 2004 a report by the Social Exclusion Unit set out what needed to be done to address mental health and social exclusion. The ‘Vision and Progress’ report, launched in March 2009, highlights the progress that has been made across the statutory and non-statutory sectors and continues to champion the importance of social inclusion for people with mental health problems.