The national lockdown in March 2020 saw the CASS team change focus very quickly: events and workshops were cancelled, and community groups were unable to meet. Networkers moved to supporting their host organisations with their Community Hub work to support vulnerable residents. The South Bristol Networker, Dan, assisted Knowle West Health Park and the wider Knowle West Alliance response group as a telephone befriender, offering emotional support and using knowledge of local services to signpost people on for further wellbeing or practical support, and to CASS resources for self-help.
CASS expertise proved a valuable addition to this emergency response as Dan was able to provide information and resources to other befrienders, increasing awareness of local services. Training sessions for the befriending team were also arranged to support their emotional wellbeing and increase their confidence in support other people’s mental health and wellbeing. Peer support sessions for the befrienders were organised and facilitated, and the Networker used connections with the BCC Public Health team to organise a mental health training session.
CASS was able to contribute to additional projects run by the Hub to support local people. 120 wellbeing packs were delivered by Knowle West Health Park to residents known to be isolated and vulnerable, and included CASS Resource Booklets, a flowchart of local services, CASS Stress, Anxiety and Depression booklets and information on the 5 Ways to Wellbeing, along with art supplies and activity ideas.
The joint response has led to improved relationships and partnership working between CASS, members of the Knowle West Alliance, other local organisations and Bristol City Council, promoting the CASS service and resources widely.
Be Kind to Your Mind Event for the Somali Community
The Be Kind to Your Mind event was designed to raise mental health awareness within the Somali community. The event took place at Wellspring Healthy Living Centre and was delivered by Amran, CASS’s Inner City and East Bristol Networker, the Wellspring Wellbeing Engagement worker, a Bristol Community Health Link Worker, and a member of Golden Key
Amran delivered a presentation discussing issues and barriers faced by Somali communities. Topics including culture shock, personal experience, stigma and community support were discussed in depth. Attendees were provided with resources about mental health and wellbeing services in Bristol, and there was plenty of time for networking and discussions over lunch.
The event had full capacity and attendees reported that the event them opportunity to learn about Bristol services, and how to overcome the barriers they face. Due to the high level of interest in attending the event, and the response from attendees, Wellspring has gone on to run further wellbeing events for the Somali community, supported by Amran.
"Our Somali community needs more awareness like this.”
“Very welcoming facilitators that enabled the topic to be widely discussed.”
Joint work with a North Bristol advice agency and local councillor identified that materials to helping workers to signpost to mental health services would be helpful in supporting people with their mental health.
A series of flowcharts were developed for the South, North and Inner & East localities in Bristol, as well as a non-area specific flowchart for the whole city. These flowcharts made information more accessible by enabling workers, community groups and organisations to navigate services at a glance.
“We use the CASS flowcharts for new staff as part of their induction as having information all in one place is really useful.”
After the initial development, the CASS North Bristol Networker, Hanna, met with a local Reverend who commented that he frequently used the CASS flowcharts as a quick and easy guide when supporting his congregations. He also remarked that he would benefit from extra guidance on how and where to refer distressed members of the public who enter his church during evenings or weekends when many services are closed. This has resulted in the development of a new version of the flowchart that includes crisis information.
After the last meeting, Hanna has been invited to speak at the next Pastoral Group meeting later this year to disseminate information about mental health support services in Bristol to other church members and leaders.
Community Group in South Bristol
In Spring 2017, a new community group, Redcatch Community Garden, formed in South Bristol. After initial contact with CASS by email, they expressed interest in working together to integrate wellbeing into their activities to create an environment of increased empathy.
The CASS South Bristol Networker, Natalie, worked with the group in a variety of ways, running an information session with a group leader and collaborating to produce a short video about them and the wider wellbeing benefits of being part of a community group.
As a result of CASS producing the video with the group, the team realised the benefits that being part of the group had on its participants and have since built on that by providing courses and activities that focus on confidence, mental wellbeing, and also relaxation and physical health. These initiatives were showcased at the recent CASS event for other community groups to learn about.
The group core team have reported an increased understanding of mental wellbeing services and support, and more confidence in signposting group members.
“CASS have provided us with a great amount of literature about mental health support, advice and guidance; all of this information is easily accessible to people who visit our garden.”
“We value keeping up to date with issues, concerns, events and networking opportunities which CASS provides through regular newsletters sent to us by email.”