South London Listens - giving everyone a voice
Our journey so far
In summer 2020, the Mental Ill-Health Prevention and Recovery Programme was formed in response to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the mental health and wellbeing of our communities.
Supported by the three mental health Trusts in south London (SWLStG, SLaM and Oxleas), the programme is backed by all local authority partners (councillors and leaders), South West London and South East London Integrated Care Systems, Healthwatch organisations and several community organisations.
The programme has established a Taskforce, hosted three community summits, and commissioned and delivered the South London Listens campaign in partnership with Citizens UK.
The latter involved Citizens UK and other community groups working with the three NHS mental health trusts and 12 boroughs to help prevent a mental health crisis and ensure local people and communities recover from the pandemic together. A survey commissioned for South London Listens revealed that 78% of people have been feeling isolated since the start of the pandemic and 76% have experienced loneliness. Some 81% of people have felt powerless.
Between November 2020 and March 2021, the campaign heard from 5,732 people across South London and focused on reaching groups disproportionately affected by mental ill health. There were also ‘mini-summits’ in several boroughs, attended by community leaders and MPs to share their experiences and ideas.
Throughout March and April 2021, these events were complemented by an online survey which was completed by nearly 600 people.
Time to act
Community workshops were then held in the spring of 2021 to explore commone themes identified across the listening campaign and to develop solutions to the key mental health challenges facing communities in south London.
At a summit held in June 2021 community leaders presented pledges to address four key areas that need to be urgently tackled as identified through the listening: social isolation, work and wages, young people and parents, and access to services.
At this event, hundreds of members of our communities heard NHS Mental Health Trusts, local authorities, voluntary sector organisations and commissioners peldge to take specific action.
The commitments that the mental health trusts signed up to included:
- Working with community groups and local authorities to train hundreds of local people as Mental Health Champions who can support others and signpost them to professional help
- Working with community organisations to become Mental Health Hubs where people can talk and get up to date information on mental health support.
- Working with councils and community groups to develop a social isolation, loneliness and digital inclusion strategy
- Supporting and resourcing parent groups to offer peer-to-peer and other mental health support
- Developing a ‘virtual waiting room’ where children and young waiting for mental health treatment are kept better informed and given bespoke digital tools
- Training and equipping staff to understand and overcome barriers that members of black and ethnic minority communities face in accessing mental health services
- Champion the Living Wage within the health sector more widely, including encouraging GP surgeries, Clinical Commissioning Groups and hospitals to become Living Wage employers.
Over the summer of 2021 programme partners will be working together to develop the programmes action plan to deliver on the various pledges. This will be published in late Autumn 2021.
About our taskforce
The programme is overseen by tge ‘Mental Ill-Health Prevention and Recovery Taskforce’, a group made up of representatives from across the programme’s partner organisations. Its purpose is to take forward a long-term prevention programme focused on protecting and promoting mental health in the community.
In 2020, the South London Mental Health and Community Partnership laid the foundations for the programme by hosting a number of digital summits to bring people together. The Taskforce built on early insights gained to develop a set of ambition statements in six key areas:
Social isolation, loneliness and community involvement
Helping people who are at risk of losing their jobs cope
Housing insecurity and environment
Supporting communities and groups who experience disadvantage
Supporting families, children and young people
Developing a long-term, joined-up approach to prevention
Alongside this, the Taskforce has started work early on to shape possible solutions to the impacts of Covid-19 on our communities’ mental health. Ideas included tackling the digital divide, improving mental health awareness and signposting, co-producing information on mental health promotion and prevention, identifying the barriers to support and growing community networks.