Friday, 17 June 2022
South London Listens' Be Well hubs are safe spaces for local people to turn to when they feel their mental health is low or simply to feel more connected with their local community.
The initial vision - born out of south London community leaders listening to their communities - was for nobody to be more than ten minutes away from being connected to someone who can help them with their mental health.
Mental Health Champions have received training to help people whose mental health is suffering get support they need.
Faiza Mulbocus, a Mental Health Champion and Advocate at the Islamic Resource Centre in Kingston, shares her experiences and ambitions for the Be Well hub.
Q. How is the Be Well hub coming along in Kingston?
We’ve started a hobby craft club and a coffee morning, and we are so pleased that we’ve had women from our community coming along. A lot of the women who joined us have been coming to practice their language, and to socialise. You don’t have to pre-register for the sessions so there is no pressure on the day, and you don’t have to come to every session. Some women who come to these sessions have stories to share and these sessions are a safe space for women to come and feel comfortable over a hot drink, chat and importantly, to listen. Some women bring food to share – we were treated to some Turkish pastries last week. It’s about supporting each other and helping to signpost people to services or organisations which might be helpful.
The Islamic Resource Centre also provides advocacy, counselling and teaches English as a foreign language. We have women joining us from all over the world – Brazil, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkey. We are open to everyone.
Q. How are the hubs helping people with their mental health?
One woman told me last week that she enjoyed the session so much that her children will say she’s a new person when she goes home. This is exactly the impact we’re setting out to have – boosting morale, confidence and supporting people with their mental wellbeing.
We held a picnic in Richmond Park at the weekend – we were so lucky with the weather that day – families were invited, Mums came with their children and babies and it was such a good occasion with lots of lovely food, Moroccan mint tea and Turkish tea. It was a lovely chance to meet others, lots of families would like to do this more often!
The pandemic really impacted people who couldn’t see their families and made some people nervous about reconnecting in person when the guidance was relaxed. We recently celebrated Eid in the park and it was heaving! It was wonderful being able to see people in person and celebrate together without social distancing.
Q. How are you finding your role as a Mental Health Champion?
A lot of women we meet just need someone to listen to their story – this is what I’m doing. It is a responsibility when people trust you with their stories, but it is so good to see people coming forward to look for advice. Many of the women coming forward are just settling into their communities or moved to the area just before lockdown. It was very isolating for a lot of people, but people are quietly starting to talk more about their mental health which is good.
I’ve done my training to be a mental health champion and I have a background in social work, so I feel well equipped to listen and support people. People do come to us in crisis which is always hard, but we can offer practical support and signposting when people need it most.
Q. What are your ambitions for the hub?
I would like to see it grow and for it to become a real community hub and see more people come out and join in. We aren’t seeing enough people come forward from our Asian communities at the moment, so I want to start going out to see and talk to people. We have to connect with each other on a personal level. I also want to encourage more people to come forward to be volunteers.
Find out more about the Islamic Resource Centre