What they did:
- Angus Voice is a mental health participation group based in Arbroath. The group is made up of men and women who live in Arbroath and the surrounding area.
- The group started a new project called the Angus McFlourish Project where they are finding and creating activities to do together to prevent social isolation and loneliness. The Angus McFlourish project will then be putting together a resource containing hints and tips for preventing loneliness and will also create a directory of businesses that are ‘mental health friendly.’ The group also gave suggestions which were put into a booklet on how to get through Christmas and New Year when you have a mental health problem and how to stay well and enjoy yourself in your community without spending a lot of money.
- The group of five people are co-ordinating the project. They meet every month to discuss new things they could be doing and to go over what they have done already and to see if they were happy with how it went. These meetings themselves provide an opportunity for friendships to be formed and loneliness to be prevented.
What we did to help:
- Outside the Box was able to help by working with the group to develop their initial ideas for something practical that would help reduce loneliness and social isolation for people who live with mental health problems. The group had started the process of becoming an independent charity, but they were not there yet. So Outside the Box made the application for a grant to the Scottish Government’s Social Isolation and Loneliness Fund as a partnership project and are holding the grant.
- We are facilitating the Angus McFlourish project by taking the notes for each meeting and sending those around along with reminders about who needed to do what. This way, the people involved can focus on the ideas and the discussions.
- Outside the Box also produced fliers for the activities and was able to fund some of the group’s activities, such as a newsletter course the group wanted to take.
- Outside the Box also used the suggestions from Angus McFlourish to produce the two booklets – one on living well over Christmas and New Year and another on living well generally when you have mental health difficulties.
The impacts for people:
- Members of the group are able to partake in the activities that they were interested in and have a group of people to enjoy these activities with. After 5 months the group has a fortnightly walking group, a monthly cinema club, a pantomime trip, a mental health film night, and training on creating a newsletter. There are also lots of activities planned for the next few months as the weather gets better. Some of these activities include a bowling trip, a pottery painting day, playing pool together, an outdoor activity day, a fortnightly knitting group and a day trip to another town.
- People who use the services that they have developed are benefitting from having friendships strengthened and new friendships created. The group also benefit from having plans in their diaries to choose from. People say that they feel less isolated and do not feel lonely as much as they did before.
Impacts for the wider system:
- Organisations in the community will benefit from this as the group will be using more local services than previously. Businesses also have the choice to register themselves as ‘mental health friendly’ with the group, meaning that people with mental health problems know they are welcome and will be more likely to use those services.
- People in the community are aware of the Angus McFlourish project because they see fliers that are around town showing the activities the group is putting together and their social media presence. The fliers explain that people with mental health difficulties are very welcome so the project aims to reduce social isolation and loneliness for many people in Arbroath and the surrounding area who now know there are more options for them socially.
Creating the Angus McFlourish project has led to people feeling increasingly supported and that their voices are heard. Members of the group see an improvement in their mental health as they no longer feel so isolated. This in turn is likely to mean that members of Angus McFlourish, and people who join in with the group’s activities, may be less likely to need help from public services to support their additional feelings of isolation.