A blog profile introducing Harriet Johnson and the importance of The Ideas Fund in Hull
Harriet has over 15 years’ experience of working with community organisations in Hull. Her career started at Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and she loved supporting young people to get outdoors and experience nature. Back in 2017, she worked on the city-wide volunteer programme to support Hull’s year-long hosting of events and celebrations as the UK’s City of Culture.
Today, Harriet is Partnerships Manager at the Two Ridings Community Foundation - a hub for donors to channel funds directly to grassroots charities. The Foundation is working in partnership with The Ideas Fund in Hull, together with Hull & East Riding Timebank and Hull University.
Harriet also volunteers as an independent visitor for a young person in care through a local charity.
How would you describe mental wellbeing overall in Hull? What are the challenges and opportunities?
“We know from the research that the British Science Association has just completed that one in four adults surveyed in Yorkshire and the Humber described their mental wellbeing as poor, and nearly half said their wellbeing had worsened since coronavirus restrictions were first introduced back in March 2020.”
“I suspect that the figures here in Hull are even higher than that. The city has been adversely affected, with job losses and high levels of social isolation. Community organisations, groups and centres haven’t been able to operate in the way they once did, creating a widespread loss of the social moments and connections that are central to people’s lives and wellbeing.”
“Hull was on a real high after being the City of the Culture – it created an energy and proactivity that was helping to tackle historical challenges and the ‘end of the line’ or ‘forgotten’ city perceptions. It feels like Covid has set us back and halted this progress, which is why The Ideas Fund is so needed right now.”
“The upside of the past year is the level of resilience and passion for community we’ve seen across the city. The response from our voluntary sector has been incredible and there has already been a lot of interest in The Ideas Fund.”
What makes Hull a good fit for The Ideas Fund – are there specific characteristics that mean it is likely that local people will be keen to get involved and put forward ideas?
“There’s a growing diversity of people and community organisations in Hull, meaning there’s an opportunity to work with a wide cross section of groups across the city. We also have a culture of innovation. People are willing to come together and try something new in order to make a difference.”
“Local organisations have also learned a lot about rapid response, at the start of the pandemic they ensured immediately that those most vulnerable were safe, fed and supported.”
What difference could The Ideas Fund make in Hull?
“Myself, Kate and Gill (the other local coordinators) are so excited to part of this project and the potential there is for an impact on mental wellbeing.”
“The timing of the Fund’s launch is incredible – there’s an urgent need for a response to a growing mental wellbeing crisis, especially amongst young people and those who identify as disabled.”
“It also offers new and exciting opportunities for connecting public engagement work with researchers at Hull University, and for partnership working and skill sharing across the voluntary sector. The way in which the Fund has been designed to test and trial new approaches is really unique and refreshing and I hope will enable all sorts of people who haven’t connected with researchers before to do so.”
How to get in touch
Call Harriet on 07736 147674 or email her at HJohnson@tworidingscf.org.uk