Group of the Year: York Group
Digital team's blog
The York Group is the current holder of our Pringle “Group of the Year Award”. The Group supports both service users and carers and has strong links with local mental health organisations and services; it runs a number of successful fundraising and social events.
It was a great honour for us to win the Pringle “Group of the Year Award” at Members’ Day in November. This acknowledgement of our work has given us all great encouragement but we know there is a great deal more to do as we play our part in helping implement the aims of Rethink Mental Illness in York. Our Group has a Management Committee made up of nine volunteers all of whom are either carers or former service users. We are all very “hands on” and each member has a specific responsibility such as secretary, treasurer, fundraiser etc.
The Committee meets every two months and oversees our activities including our fundraising programme. We also give feedback to Rethink Mental Illness on members’ concerns over mental heath policy issues such as Personal Independence Payments which are causing such a lot of anxiety at present.
Winning the award has given a boost to our two programmes – Club 84, a monthly social club for people who have experienced mental illness, and our monthly support group for carers, which is run in partnership with the York Carers’ Centre.
Club 84 is so called because our Group was formed in 1984 under the name of The York Fellowship. The Club has about 20 members on its books and about 8-10 regularly attend evening meetings. Members also choose outings which are supported by our volunteers – most recently they went on a day trip to Scarborough.
Our Carers’ Group has over 100 members, and about 25 regularly attend meetings. We have talks and discussions at some meetings – others focus on peer support. Some carer support workers and the Head of Nursing for York and Selby also come to meetings which mean that carers can get individual help and advice from professionals when necessary.
The Carers’ Group has benefitted enormously from working in partnership with York Carers’ Centre. The Carers’ Centre, of course, has a great deal of experience in running events in support of a wide range of carers and has paid staff, including carer support workers. Our Group has brought to the partnership: a lot of experience of mental health issues; important contacts in the local mental health community; and valuable links with Rethink.
Earlier this year our Carers’ Group was invited to make a film on “Caring for people with mental illness” and filming will begin soon. The project is part-funded funded by the Rethink Mental Illness Get Together Fund. The film will form part of our Trust’s recently launched OnlineRecoveryCollege. Our Group has always been determined to help improve services and care and we believe making this film will provide another opportunity for us to do this.
As we have pointed out, partnerships are very important to us and we have strong links with the University of York. A mental health lecturer from the University regularly attends our meetings and our carers help with the teaching on the University’s degree course in mental health nursing. This enables our carers to provide students with a valuable insight into the role of carers, the challenges they face and the important contribution they make.
Our tireless fundraisers continue to amaze us. They have run two very successful 1940’s-style dances and plan to repeat last year’s ambitious art auction which was run together with York Mind. Other activities which are planned include street collections and events run by local church groups in aid of our Group. Several individuals are also running in local half-marathons to raise money for us. Our fundraising activities also help raise the profile of Rethink Mental Illness locally and nationally.
Each year, Tees, Esk & Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust runs a series of “Making a Difference Awards”. In March, our Voluntary Coordinator John Bettridge, was awarded “Highly Commended” in the Volunteer of the Year category. We congratulate John on his well deserved award but, as he points out, running an effective group like ours needs to be a team effort. Getting as many people as possible involved in our activities and working in partnership with other organisations to help improve services and care, will continue to be very important aspects of our work.
Nominate a Rethink Mental Illness group, service or member for a Pringle award
There are around 110 registered groups across England. For further information about groups in your area please contact 01823 365 327, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.