Camden is one of the most vibrant and diverse areas of London with world renowned markets, tourist attractions, popular culture as well as a hospitable and welcoming environment on the gateway to Europe.
Camden is also home to some of the most socially deprived communities in the United Kingdom with health inequalities in the borough having a significant impact on well-being, none more so than in the area of mental health.
Voluntary Action Camden (VAC) has a long track record of successfully engaging and supporting BAME communities in Camden to identify and raise awareness of mental health needs. VAC has recruited and trained community members as volunteer Community Mental Health Champions and Workplace Mental Health Champions.
Cultural Advocacy Project (CAP) is a joint venture between Voluntary Action Camden and Mind in Camden. The CAP works in partnership with community organisations to develop good practice in understanding, supporting and actively engaging with users that may be experiencing mental illness. The CAP works towards raising cultural awareness across and within communities
The CAP works with BAME communities through the organisations they attend and utilise,to reduce the sense of isolation they feel; raise awareness of mental health and well-being from a cultural perspective; enable and encourage individuals to access activities, services and support that meet all their daily needs.
YEAR 1 (2018/19)
In the first year of the CAP we have successfully engaged with several partner organisations supporting Black, African. Caribbean and Bangladeshi communities in Camden namely: Bengali Workers Association, King’s Cross and Brunswick Neighbourhood Association, Swiss Cottage Community Centre. African Health Forum. Bengali Women’s Forum, Light of Nations Mission and British Somali Community.
Peer Support Groups
We have set up Peer Support Groups for members of the community to connect with people from their cultural background who have similar experiences. These free supportive networks are warm and encouraging spaces, enabling members to be around like minded people; ask questions in a safe space; learn and share experiences; feel more enthused and confident about doing things and going out.
We have co-produced more than a 150 peer support group sessions with on average regular attendance of 8-10 members in each group.
Peer Support Group: A personal experience.
One woman, a regular attendee, took the opportunity to tell us something that had been upsetting her for more than year. There is a complete breakdown in her relationship with her brothers/sister and parents. The last time they saw each other at a close relation’s wedding, it ended up in a huge row. She has tried to positively engage with the rest of her family but she no longer has the will to do so. Though she accepts that her husband may be the reason, she is reasonably in her relationship and their child is the centre of her world. She will not compromise on her marriage. Mediation? No one in the family could do it properly or impartially. Outside people? The other side wouldn’t agree and it has probably gone too far. Back home, family elders would have intervened.
The group made her believe she wasn’t to blame for the situation; did not judge her; allowed her time and space to talk openly. They made her believe that there was a lot more in her life than she thought. They also advised her she should never lose hope and that she should always look for opportunities to engage with family.
She felt relieved to have spoken about her predicament today and the group was a positive place to be and belong. Opening up for the first time to a group she finally felt a connection to and a confidence/trust in is what these groups were all about.
Our partners, with the training we have provided are engaging in 1-1 support to their users who need it.
We have co-produced 10 community mental health awareness events with more than 500 people attending in total.
YEAR 2 (2019/20)
In this second year our priority is working with Chinese and Irish communities. We will also look to work with hard to reach groups if funds allow.
Contact: Zubair Matin
Community Liaison Worker
Cultural Advocacy Project
Tel.No. 020 7284 6550