Psychological well being charity wins £200,000 grant – South London Information

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A charity that provides a place for people living with severe mental illness (SMI) to express themselves has received a major grant.

The South East London Arts Network in Lewisham is just one of the many local groups that have campaigned to help tackle mental health issues in their community during the pandemic.

Arts Network is an arts and mental health charity that provides an inspirational and understanding environment for people with mental health support needs and challenges the stigma surrounding mental health.

£200,000 in National Lottery funds have been awarded to run the Arts Network project, which offers members a supportive, welcoming space to explore their creativity, develop confidence and build friendships.

The project is primarily aimed at people with severe mental illness, with all members being referred to the group by mental health providers.

Matthew Couper, Director of Development at Arts Network said: “This funding from the National Lottery Community Fund is essential, it has really allowed us to grow and evolve as a charity.

“It was a very emotional moment when I got the call to say we got the funding, it was a real moment of change for us and a real validation of our work.

Jaydeane – Arts Network, Lewisham

“We’re a non-clinical facility, so someone who’s here isn’t a patient, they’re a member and an artist, and that’s so important to us.

“The last 18 months have been really challenging for all of us, but this has been a particularly challenging time for people who are already trying to manage their mental illness.

“With the support of our funders, we’ve been able to tailor our service so that our members continue to feel connected and know we’re there to offer support when needed.”

Kate (main image) joined Arts Network as a member, later trained as a presenter and now runs her own craft business.

She said: “Being part of the Arts Network has been life changing and has led to so many other opportunities all coming back to this place I love.

“It would be amazing to see more people open to this type of process. It should not only be prescribed to people with mental illnesses.

This can be just as important to recovery as clinical interventions.”

Arts Network member Jaydeane said, “Arts Network has given me structure and something to stand up for – a sense of belonging and motivation to achieve.”

Research conducted earlier this year by mental health charity Mind shows that 80 per cent of adults over 25 experienced mental distress during or before the Covid-19 pandemic, while up to 88 per cent of young people share the same feelings had.

To learn more, visit www.TNLCommunityFund.org.uk