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The Ideas Fund round two project funding announcement

08.02.23 By Beth-Louise Sturdee

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Today Wednesday 8 February, 26 community projects have been awarded £1.2 million in grants from The Ideas Fund, in a second round of funding, to work with researchers to develop and try out ideas that address problems related to mental wellbeing in their communities.  

Since its launch in 2021, The Ideas Fund has awarded £3.28 million in grants to over 70 community projects across four geographical areas of the UK: Oldham, the Scottish Highlands and Islands, North West Northern Ireland and Hull.

The local projects aim to improve mental wellbeing across a broad range of communities – including veterans, vulnerable young women, cancer survivors, local dads and those living with experiences of addiction. The 26 projects that have been awarded grants in the second round of funding are listed below.

Oldham: six community projects have been awarded £223,000 in grants

  • Westwood and Coldhurst Women’s Association: plan to run a series of eight workshops with South Asian women, exploring identity through the process of craft making. A researcher will help the women construct the stories of self and share their skills with each other.     
  • Men Behaving Dadly: will train volunteer dads to engage with other local fathers to identify issues and facilitate programmes to support each other’s mental wellbeing.    
  • Inspire Women: the StrongHer Together group will co-create a community research project for local women, identifying topics that matter to them including developing resilience and building meaningful relationships. They will then use creative methods such as podcasting to draw together the insights from the research.   
  • OAK Community Development: will run a range of outdoor activities for isolated minoritised families in Oldham, followed by participatory workshops to explore the benefits to health and wellbeing of taking part in these kinds of activities.    
  • Air Athletics Cheer and Dance: this grassroots cheerleading and dance club will collaborate with a researcher, an experienced mentor and a former elite athlete to run sessions for young people and parents exploring experiences around wellbeing and competition.  
  • Keeping Our Girls Safe: aim to collaboratively design and deliver a peer mentoring programme for young women affected by, or vulnerable to, child sexual exploitation, bringing them together in participatory arts workshops. They hope this will both build skills and enable the participants to see University as a realistic goal for their futures. 

Paolo Arru, The Ideas Fund Development Coordinator for Oldham said“Seeing the results of partnerships exploring and developing ideas together in this latest round has been incredible. We can’t wait to see the projects come to life and create new conversations on what matters to people across Oldham about mental health.”

Scottish Highlands and Islands: seven community projects have been awarded £408,000 in grants

  • Deepness: a new dementia arts and mental wellbeing festival to showcase the lived experiences of people with dementia and their unpaid supporters in the Western Isles, Caithness and Ullapool.
  • Safe Spaces Project: an Inverness-based youth-led collaborative, participatory research project to develop ideas for a safe space for students (16–26-year-olds) from underrepresented groups such as LGBTQIA+, carers, care experienced or neurodiverse  
  • Centred: the Highland Discovery College in Inverness will use collaborative models to deliver mental wellbeing courses and peer support to people and communities with lived experience of mental health and/or substance use who are isolated or want to explore their community and network to improve their health .
  • Kyleakin Connections: this project, based on the Isle of Skye, actively involves adults with learning disabilities as co-designers and collaborators in peer research with researchers on a digital Makaton initiative and the redesign of a Wellbeing Garden as a place for the participants and community members to connect, use Makaton together, and explore how this impacts mental wellbeing. 
  • Relationships Lab: will explore the barriers to accessing relationship counselling in areas of disadvantage in Inverness including improving access to support and communication skills assistance for young parents, individuals and couples, thereby supporting their mental wellbeing.   
  • Equal Adventure: will work with Ark Housing Association on the Isle of Lewis and a researcher to support individuals with disabilities, including those with Learning and Sensory disabilities, to actively participate in the design of outdoor physical activity provision on the Island.   
  • Garelochhead Station Trust: provides information, support, training and social opportunities for veterans and their families, in Garelochhead, of all ages who will work with two researchers to identify areas for improvement, gaps and opportunities for further support to impacts on mental wellbeing.  

Lewis Hou, The Ideas Fund Development Coordinator for the Scottish Highlands and Islands said“We are excited by genuine community-led partnerships which centre the lived experience, autonomy and sheer creativity of those living with dementia to lead their own research to understand the role of artistic expressions to support mental wellbeing.  We can't wait to see how the project develops and feel privileged to be part of this journey together along with all the other diverse Ideas Fund projects together across the Highlands and Islands – from supporting Makaton communities to LGBTQIA+ youth, we're looking forward to continuing to convene the community groups and researchers to share learnings, network and think collectively about mental wellbeing." 

North West Northern Ireland: six community projects have been awarded £388,000 in grants

  • In Your Space Circus: will run a programme of circus workshops for older people in Derry
  • Menopause Project: Informing Choices NI based in Derry & Strabane, will co-design an educational programme that informs and supports women with learning disabilities through the menopause on issues ranging from depression to hair loss.    
  • Pink Ladies Cancer Support Group: will work with researchers to interview cancer survivors about their experiences of cancer surgery, focusing on themes from body image to mental health, an artist will then be commissioned to transform these themes identified into a mural in Derry City Centre.   
  • ARC Fitness Addiction Recovery Coaching: will create gender-specific addiction recovery groups to better understand the potential wellbeing benefits and outcomes of participation in a gender-specific versus a mixed-gender group.    
  • Londonderry YMCA: will run a mentoring project for 15 girls aged 11 – 14 years old whom access YMCA services, ranging from drug counselling to housing advice, by pairing them with student mentors from Ulster University’s Social Work and Community Art Department.   
  • Derg Valley Care: will bring together a “Grow Your Own” initiative in rural Castlederg with social prescribing in Strabane town to see if an intervention like this could alleviate both poor wellbeing and food poverty at the same time.  

Roisin McLaughlin, The Ideas Fund Development Coordinator for North West Northern Ireland, said:“We are delighted for the groups in the Derry and Strabane area as they embark on delivering their Ideas Fund projects. The Ideas Fund is a new and different way to support communities to work with researchers on ideas around mental wellbeing. This second round of funding has been a great opportunity for communities and researchers to come together to develop an impactful partnership, build new skills and address mental wellbeing challenges within our area. We are excited to support communities with their researchers to bring their ideas to life.”     

Hull: seven community projects have been awarded £267,000 in grants

  • P.A.U.L for Brain Recovery:the project focuses on improving the mental wellbeing of families living with acquired brain injury (ABI) in Hull, enabling them to share their stories via creative activities, including storytelling and arts, and holding an exhibition (see case study below).   
  • ERNI: Emotions Are Not Illness (ERNI) is currently a group of people who meet virtually, of both mental health service users and practitioners, in Hull who are frustrated by the current mental health service systems. They build real-world relationships between service users and co-create resources.   
  • Sight Support Hull and East Yorkshire: Project Insight will work with visually impaired children in Hull to research factors affecting both their physical and mental wellbeing in order to deliver a diverse programme of creative and nature-based activities.   
  • Youth Aspire Connect: the NORM wellbeing project will co-create toolkits and creative outputs to support young people, parents and community leaders in Hull to destigmatise and normalise conversations about mental health and wellbeing among young people from minoritised backgrounds.   
  • Self-Advocacy through Storytelling: the VOICE self-advocacy group in Hull supports people with a learning disability by exploring how storytelling helps with connection and increases a sense of community and wellbeing.   
  • Open Up and Transform: the OUT group is a diverse group of 12 people, some of whom have been in prison, with a collective interest in the prison and criminal justice systems. The project will work with a researcher to exchange lived and learnt knowledge, with the aim to improve the mental wellbeing of people with experience of the criminal justice system.
  • OSHI Support for an App Design: OSHI is a peer-led project that connects those with relevant lived experience to those living through experiences of addiction and recovery who need immediate help. This new project will explore the ideas of bringing support onto one digitally accessible platform.   

Gill Hughes, one of the The Ideas Fund Development Coordinators for Hull, saidP.A.U.L for Brain Recovery has developed a much-needed project for people in the city who can often be invisible. The project has the potential to make a real difference to the mental wellbeing of the families and carers and we really look forward to seeing what creative ideas and resources come through this participatory project as it unfolds.”